Shire whacks cottage users

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianMidwest Times
A newly-renovated shack at The Blowholes.
Camera IconA newly-renovated shack at The Blowholes. Credit: Supplied

Just weeks before local government elections, Carnarvon Shire Council has voted to demolish 14 recreational shacks at The Blow Holes, about 50km north of town near Quobba Lighthouse.

North West Central member Vince Catania said he was “gobsmacked”.

“Why suddenly has this motion come up and been endorsed by councillors who are retiring,” he asked. “There is a masterplan that everyone has agreed to nearly 10 years ago. That is the plan everyone should be following so we can move on and ensure everyone has the opportunity of using the shacks.”

In a report to Council, Shire chief executive David Burton said the shacks were holding up a potential source of revenue to the community through camping fees that would be charged for a redeveloped site.

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“The shacks identified as requiring immediate removal have suffered significant deterioration,” he wrote. “They contain a level of corrosion that results in the structures either being in a potentially dangerous state of repair or containing structural elements that present a risk to occupiers and the community.”

Cr Ed Garrett, who moved the motion, said the time had come for “firm and definitive action”.

“It is apparent that tact and diplomacy will never result in a reasonable resolution to this vexatious problem,” he said.

Demolition orders were placed on the shacks almost three years ago, according to council minutes.

In unusually strong language, those same minutes say negotiations since then with the Blow holes Preservation Association had been “problematic and unproductive” at best and “totally hostile” at worst.

“The stance taken by the BPA has always reverted to an intention to retain the existing shacks in their current location,” the minutes say.

“Any valid attempts by the Shire staff to enforce the demolition orders has been stalled by sheer bloody mindedness on the part of a very small number of shack ‘owners’ who thumb their noses at the Shire and community of Carnarvon with an attitude of entitlement and privilege.”

According to the minutes this disadvantaged other community members and visitors who would make use of facilities proposed under the Blowholes Management Plan.

Shire president Karl Brandenburg was contacted for comment.

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