Above: The judging of the annual Miss Sun contest during the 1960s with the new Picnic Bay Jetty in the background. (Photo: Courtesy Arch Fraley, MIHCC Magnetic Museum, Miriam Hardy collection)
Right: Mothers Day at Hotel Arcadia and the R & R Bar Picnic Bay Photos Debbie Denison
17th May 2013 VOl 23 Issue 49
Jetty popular with kegs in the drink
There have never been so many willing helpers as the day a load of beer kegs went into the bay off the Picnic Bay jetty, according to the memories of Colin Herbertson, a past pupil of the Picnic Bay State School.
It was Colin's job in the late 1940s, to meet the Hayles launch every day or so to pick up the family's meat order which came from the mainland in sugar bags. “All the provisions were loaded on to a handcart and wheeled back along the rails. I remember the kegs being lost into the ocean on one occasion, and there was no shortage of volunteers to jump in and shepherd them to shore,” claims Colin.
Colin and many other past pupils of the school at Picnic Bay will be returning June 7-12 for the school's centenary celebrations. One of the events planned for the long weekend is a community dinner on the jetty, to which the Magnetic Island community is invited to come and join with the returned past pupils. The dinner on Saturday, June 8, 2013 will be a self-catered event, so bring everything you need for a start at 6pm, minus the alcohol, of course, as local law 51, no alcohol in public places, applies to this event.
The Picnic Bay jetty has long featured in the social activities of the island and particularly Picnic Bay.
However, the occasion on which the island's jetty featured in state and national news was a sad one.
The Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre retains a full page Townsville Daily Bulletin March 2, 1972 front page describing events of the previous day when a car full of people went over the edge and into the drink, killing all occupants.
The front page said that locals attributed the accident the day before to a heart attack suffered by the man behind the wheel. Five occupants of the car drowned. A sixth person died at the scene having been clipped by the car as it sped down the jetty, this person having been pulled unconscious from the sea. The museum does not have an article about the coronial inquiry but would like one if someone has this.
The island's only police officer, Snr Const. Reg Kanowski, had been granted leave the day of the accident having worked non-stop since Christmas Eve when Cyclone Althea hit the island, according to the TDB. Those attending the jetty accident included the clinic's Sr Cecily Steptoe, who saw to the man who had been hit by the car but he died at the scene. He was a prominent North Queensland orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Thomas Urben Ley, an island resident. The island's concrete works owner, Angelo Smaniotti and his daughter, 10, witnessed the accident. Mr Smaniotti, a non-swimmer, threw in a rope for Dr Ley while his daughter ran for help.
It took half an hour for divers to free those in the car which had plummeted about 15-20ft out from the jetty in about 20ft of water. Those who lost their lives in the car were: Raymond (Doc) Hallett, a retired dentist; his housekeeper, Mabel Standen, 70; their neighbour Charles James Fraser, 70, and his wife, Thelma 'Adair' May, 64, all of Nelly Bay; and Mrs Frasers' uncle, William Daniel Sunaway, 92, of West End. Divers who worked to free them were Vic McCormick, a marine researcher Theo Brown, Ian Croll and Rod Williams, of Marine Gardens, forerunner to Base Magnetic Island. First on the scene was a carpenter working on Cyclone Althea repairs, and a young Don Bowerman, then 18, who dived in, attempting to get to the car to free its occupants.
The jetty on which this occurred is much the same as that which we have most of the use of again today, with repairs still continuing to the head which was so badly damaged by Cyclone Yasi in 2010. There have been some changes since the de-commissioning process and some additions that took place in between the time it was built and the time it was de-commissioned. It is Picnic Bay's third jetty. Let us take a look at the history of the Picnic Bay jetties.
Records at Magnetic Museum reveal the island's first pioneering settler, Harry Butler, of Picnic Bay, wrote to the Lands Department in February 21, 1903, complaining that he had been advised his lease No. 949 had been forfeited and he wanted it back in order to land his passengers in the electric launch, Tivoli, belonging to his son, Geo Butler.
The Lands Department wrote back to Butler, declaring: “There is no objection to his using this jetty nor would there be any objection to his being granted a landing reserve there if considered necessary but there would be an objection to his being granted exclusive right to any of the foreshore opposite the reserve formerly known as special lease 902.
It is unclear in what year Butler built his jetty, other than that it pre-dates 1903. The year 1898 keeps cropping up in histories about the jetties, but MCN could not find mention of the jetty in the Lands Department files for this period. It has been described as a short jetty, in comparison with its successors. The earliest photo of this jetty is c1900.
The next jetty, which operated while Butler was still using his, came about after Robert Hayles made application to the Lands Department for portion 653, a lease of 2 acres, out from which he intended to build a jetty to service his growing tourism interests at Picnic Bay, namely his two-storey Magnetic Hotel and his launch, The Bee. Hayles constructed his first jetty before any permission to build had been received. The earliest photo of this first jetty is c1900.
Hayles produced several jetties, the longest being 100ft (which was considerably longer than Butler's short jetty) before the current jetty now owned by Queensland Transport was constructed in 1957. The State Government realised that the increased population on the island since World War II meant that people needed to work in Townsville and school children needed to go to high school in Townsville. Designed by the Department of Harbours and Marine, the jetty was financed by the Commonwealth Aid Marine Works Trust Fund. John Holland won the tender and constructed the jetty, completing it by October for a cost of some 43,000 pounds.
The jetty was leased to Hayles Magnetic Pty Ltd for 20 years, which also undertook its upkeep despite no guarantee of priority berthing.
Pedestrians could access the jetty on a walkway and vehicles on the roadway section. The jetty measured 679ft long (or 206m). In 2006, a shelter shed was constructed on the head of the jetty and the jetty extended in 1976. Long-term island residents will remember the artwork of Magnetic Island State School students which adorned the shelter shed.
The jetty has always been popular with fisher persons. There was one pylon marked as Mario's spot, to honour popular island fisherman, Mario Roy, who has since passed away. It has been a fervent wish of Mario's widow, Gaby, 78, of Picnic Bay, that the restoration work still being undertaken on the jetty in the wake of Cyclone Yasi include another plaque remembering her husband's fishing spot, for Mario could be seen for many years on the jetty fishing the high tides, taking home mackerel for the family to eat.
Originally built with just one handrail, an additional handrail was built on the jetty demarcating the pedestrians from the vehicles in 1970.
Brisbane architects Allom and Lovell, in their document, Picnic Bay Jetty, Magnetic Island: A Conservation Plan for Queensland Transport, noted: “Although the Hayles' lease finished in 1981, the company continued to use the jetty. A Picnic Bay Jetty Maintenance Fund was established, with fees raised from vessels berthing at the jetty, to provide income for the jetty's maintenance...
“Some parts of the jetty structure have been removed and replaced over time, including many of the timber tender piles at the head of the jetty. Steel casings were constructed to some of these timber piles in 2002 and 2003 due to heavier displacement ferry traffic. Two staircases were constructed in 1989 to replace existing ramps.
“With the opening of the Nelly Bay ferry terminal, the use of the Picnic Bay jetty as a landing for ferries and other craft has ceased, with Queensland Transport taking over the structure and its maintenance and Townsville City Council taking over day-to-day management.”
In February, 2004, the Picnic Bay jetty was entered in the Queensland Heritage Register.
Decommissioning involved removal of the steel fender piles, removal of the timber tender piles, removal of the staircases and construction of timber barriers to prevent pedestrian access to the former staircases.
The Heritage Registry entry prepared by the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency describes how and why the place is culturally significant, though strangely makes no mention of the jetty's enduring popularity with bridal parties:
“Picnic Bay Jetty, constructed by October, 1959, is at least the third jetty constructed on this site (sic). Leased by the Hayles Co. in 1960, this jetty, and earlier jetties, has been linked with the Hayles' family company on Magnetic Island since 1898. The present jetty is evidence of the significant contribution made by the Hayles Company, through the company's development of Magnetic Island as a major tourist location, to the Queensland tourist industry.
“The community values the Picnic Bay jetty both for its contribution to the economic development of Magnetic Island as a significant tourist destination and for the jetty's role in the commercial, family and the island community. The importance of the jetty to the island community was recently demonstrated through the proposal to set up a management committee to assume responsibility for the structure once it became obsolete to requirements.”
It was during this push to save the Picnic Bay jetty that the first of a number of dinners on the jetty was begun, with this tradition to be marked this year by the Picnic Bay State School Centenary's June 8, 2013 Dinner on the Jetty. Patrons for this event are advised to bring their own tables and chairs, dinner, plates and cups. In fact, bring everything you need so you can have dinner with your friends and enjoy watching the sun go down and the stars come up with the lights of Townsville dancing across the water in the distance.
Hayles' first Picnic Bay jetty in the foreground, with Butler's jetty in the background, c1900. (Photo: gift of Fred Parker, MIHCC Magnetic Museum)
Swimmers at Hayles' Picnic Bay jetty, Easter, 1923. (Photo: Courtesy MIHCC Magnetic Museum, Sylvia McDermott collection)
Murray Views, Hayles' Picnic Bay Jetty, North Queensland, with Hayles' launch, Magnetic, c1956.
12th May 2013
Age is no barrier for Fairlie, 56
Fairlie Sandilands with daughters Jess and Caitlin.
Fairlie Sandilands, 56, is enjoying what life has to offer, with age being no barrier to new directions and personal fulfilment.
Her connection with Magnetic Island started when her parents moved to Picnic Bay to build a house, after her father's discharge from the army in 1976. Since coming up to visit her folks, all those years ago, Fairlie has lived for periods of time on t he island or has been a day visitor enjoying snorkelling and boating around the different bays. More recently, in 2009, Fairlie assisted with the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre's task of developing policies and procedures for the newly established Magnetic Museum.
Some of the work done so far by the museum will be on display from June 7-12 for the Centenary celebrations of the Picnic Bay State School.
As well as a wide range of activities planned for this event, there will be the unveiling of a public art centenary sculpture in the grounds of the Magnetic Museum and Picnic Bay State School, which now houses the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre. Artist Sue Tilley, with whom Fairlie has worked before, has participated in a public consultation process, with the sculpture now set to be a curlew family, representing school teacher and pupils. It will be made of off-cuts of metal collected on Magnetic Island. Donations of metal are still being sought.
Fairlie is collaborating with film-maker and musician, Matt Whitton, of Horseshoe Bay to produce a documentary about the school centenary celebrations, with island filk already involved in the process of filming footage necessary for cut-away sequences in what is set to be a DVD available for sale once it is launched during the Bay Days (Magnetic Island) Festival.
Filming is a good place to delve into Fairlie's past. After leaving school in Sydney at 15, she spent several years working as a researcher and production assistant for a feature film company, in an era when you didn't need a qualification for a job, you just got on with it.
“It was an interesting job,” she says. “As well as doing archival research, I spent some time interviewing the author, Ion Idriess, about his experiences in the Torres Strait. It was a real privilege to get to know him. He was, for quite some time, the biggest selling Australian author.”
Initially Fairlie would visit the island briefly to see her parents and she fell in love with the place. So she started working extra jobs in Sydney during the summer months, in order to winter on the island, living off her savings.
She eventually decided to live on Magnetic Island more permanently, packing up her life in Sydney, landing a job at what was then called Ward's Mediterranean Holiday Village as the public relations/entertainment person.
“I used to write the scripts for radio advertisements for the Village and then record them at Radio 4TO with Stuey McGuinness producing,” she recalls.
In those days, the Mediterranean Village was pumping with bands many a Saturday night. The dining room was regularly full, as was the terrace, and activities were put on for guests during the week.
Fairlie used to commute around the island on either a bicycle or her motor bike, depending on whether it was working or not. She recalls that there were lots of characters around in those days with fascinating pasts and stories to tell.
From this point, Fairlie took a leap of faith, enrolling in a degree in anthropology at James Cook University, her interest fuelled by time spent in Papua New Guinea with her parents while her father was posted there with the army; and by her experiences living on Mer Island in the Torres Strait when she worked for a film company.
She finished her degree at the Australian National University in Canberra and then spent several years living in Belgium with her then husband, a Belgian national. She had her eldest daughter there, experiencing what it was like to be a migrant woman in another country.
Above: Fairlie Sandilands on the day of her graduation with daughter, Jess.
“Everyone was very kind to me but I missed Australia a lot and I recall walking for a while behind a group of Australian businessmen just to hear their Aussie accents, one snowy day in Antwerp!”
Eventually she returned to Australia as a single parent, settling in with her mum and dad who had by this time moved to a house in Aitkenvale.
Fairlie says that here her life changed again, with the pursuit of a Graduate Diploma in Material Anthropology at JCU.
“A large component of this was focussed on museum curatorship,” she says. “I did course work and then wrote a thesis on how the material culture of the Townsville-based women of the eastern Torres Straits shapes their sense of identity. It was called Pandanus and Plastic.
“During the coursework, a placement at the museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville enabled me to design a schools' program called Our Very Own Dinosaurs, which included a song about the Mutaburrassaurus. I was later asked by the Museum to design and curate an exhibition for the inaugural Sea Week, which I called Hook, Line and Sinker. It was about Indigenous cultures in the western Pacific and their relationship to the ocean.”
Fairlie then aimed to do a doctorate at university but her first attempt, with fieldwork in the Solomon Islands was cancelled due to an outbreak of cerebral malaria at the research site. By this stage, Fairlie had her five-year-old daughter and an infant daughter from her next marriage, and was advised not to take children there. A second doctorate attempt, researching the Attitudes and Motivation of Recreational Fishers, was also doomed, with Fairlie the lynchpin of her little family not keen to put her young children through full-time daycare while she pursued her research, as her husband, a marine biologist, was often away.
“It was gut-wrenching to give up my studies but the needs of the children came first, it was just a decision I made. It's hard to balance what's best for the family and what you want to do for yourself, and it's just a personal choice that each woman makes.”
In amongst the studies and doctorate attempts, there was a successful application to the Australian Film Commission for preliminary research and a trip for Fairlie and a collaborator to PNG with the idea of developing a documentary examining the effects of World War II on women in PNG.
“As we were unable to obtain second-stage funding after returning from PNG, we gave back what was left of the funding,” she says. “They didn't know what to do with that at the Film Commission. There weren't used to getting money back!”
After dropping her final doctorate attempt, Fairlie did part-time primary school literacy tutoring for a while then, for 11 years, worked a job with a laboratory supply company that enabled her to be home for the children before and after school. She says: “it paid the bills but was very repetitive.”
Then, as often happens, there were life-changing events that prompted her to rethink her situation. First her mum died, then her dad also passed away after several years in a nursing home. One of the other residents in high care with her dad was Roy Spottiswood, a well known Magnetic Islander. Roy and Sandy would get Fairlie to buy them a kilo of prawns sometimes on a Friday afternoon, so they could sit on the balcony of the nursing home, having some prawns and an illicit beer and swap island stories.
Fairlie says: “When dad died, my youngest was finishing school. I started thinking I might do something creative again and use my then still very rusty skill base, so I contacted Shannon Chadwick, the Townsville City Council RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund) officer to ask his advice.
“He said that the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre was looking for someone to lend a hand setting up the museum, and after an initial 'getting to know you', I brushed on up my curatorial skills and commuted often to the island during much of 2009. It was a wonderful experience for me. Everyone was so welcoming and it was such a pleasure to be able to give something back to the island. The workers at the History and Craft Centre have tirelessly preserved much of Magnetic Island's history that might have otherwise been lost, and they really deserve recognition for that.
“I then took another leap of faith and, at the end of 2009, got a contract designing an arts-based program for mums and bubs for Playgroup Week. This led to work with Citylibraries developing
and running Townsville's first Living Library, which was based on migrants and refugees. This involved finding people willing to participate as 'books' and members of the Townsville community 'borrowing' them at the library for a chat about what they'd been through and what it's like to be a migrant of refugee. People got to tell their stories.
“One man who was participating, and who had come through dreadful circumstances in his home country, told me that by telling his stories to people who were really interested, he was now able to finally start putting his horrendous experiences behind him. This really affected me and I felt very privileged to have been able to work with him.”
Fairlie then moved on to another contract with the Spinal Injuries Association, developing a mainstream performance and art exhibition event at Riverway, that came from a collaboration between members of the association and local artists, musicians and performers. The event, ARTscape, was successful and it was a life-changing experience for some of the members who participated.
Fairlie says this was a very rewarding project for her, affording the opportunity to meet some interesting and courageous people. One of these was Matt Whitton, whom she had partnered with one of the association members to make a short film piece for ARTscape. Matt and Fairlie then went on to make a documentary of ARTscape and what happened to participants afterwards. This documentary, The Spine of Creativity, recently won two categories at the 2013 North Queensland Art Awards.
Fairlie enjoyed the time she and Matt spent editing the documentary. “The creative process was very rewarding. Matt is extremely talented and has many skills he can call on and Matt's beautiful wife looked after us, making sure we were fed and watered. She provided such a calm and nurturing presence.”
Fairlie is currently collaborating with a Townsville artist on a social awareness comic book and has done the photography and design for a series of posters soon to be distributed. Matt and Fairlie have also worked together on an earlier stage of this government project which focusses on Indigenous children in the Upper Ross.
Of her newest collaboration, the Centenary DVD project for the Picnic Bay State School, she says: “I am looking forward to this new collaboration, as it means I can keep coming back to the island!”
Fairlie has some longer-term goals, moving to Topaz on the Atherton Tablelands being one but, in the meantime, the creative juices are flowing and age is no barrier, with another project in the gestation stage, looking at the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on service men and women. She hopes this will be up and running in 2015, to coincide with the centenary of Gallipoli.
She says: “I work part-time as an administration officer with a veterans' advocacy organisation and this enables me to pursue my creative interests the rest of the time, most of which are community-based.
“When I look back on my life, it's interesting how some things have come full circle in a way I couldn't have imagined 20 years ago. It's such fun, so rewarding and, to me, very exciting – I am so appreciative of the opportunities I have had in my life, both in the past and currently. We live in a society that seems more and more to de-value age and experience, but we shouldn't buy into that – age is not the dictator of our life of creativity – everyone has creativity in them, whether it blooms at six or 60 is irrelevant.”
Above: Fairlie Sandilands filming in Papua New Guinea.
10th May 2103
This article we published in our print edition of the MCN, we believe should be of interest to the wider community.
Mayor Walks Gabul Way to Support Guide Dog Day
Above: Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill with Guide Dog Services Manager Andrew Barnes and Guide Dog Ali walk along pathway.
Wednesday 24th April was International Guide Dog Day and to highlight the message that Guide Dogs can go anywhere, Mayor Jenny Hill agreed to be blindfolded and take some brave steps along the Gabul Way walkway with guide dog in training 'Ali'. Mayor Jenny Hill said she was delighted to celebrate International Guide Dog Day at the newly constructed Gabul Way.
“There is an increasing need for Guide Dogs across the state and it is important that there is support from communities like ours to be able to keep up with demand to ensure we have trained Guide Dogs to assist those in need,” Ms. Hill said.
“The new Gabul Way on Magnetic Island is a fitting location to celebrate the event, it is an inclusive piece of infrastructure that was created with everyone’s abilities in mind including those with a disability.
Joining Mayor Hill was local resident Amy Tester and her Guide Dog 'Zoe', Guide Dog Services Manager Andrew Barnes and Guide Dogs Townsville officer Debbie Simpson.
On completing her walk blind folded Mayor Hill told the Community News " It was a very strange feeling of not being able to see and to give my trust over to 'Ali' the guide dog, it gives me a greater understanding what it is like to be vision impaired."
This week guide dog 'Ali' will be matched with her new owner, she is now 2 years of age and has completed her training. For Amy Tester, her dog 'Zoe' is her sight, her constant companion and her best friend. Amy moved to the island eight months ago after living on the Gold Coast" It was a lifestyle change and I really enjoy living here so much " says Amy.
Amy had 20/20 vision till the age of 26 when her sight began to fail, " I still have some sight of light perception and shadows so during the daylight hours is when I have optimum sight. Five years ago I was given the beautiful gift of 'Zoe'. Amy lived full time for 2 weeks at the Guide Dogs complex in Bald Hills in Brisbane, they gave me 'Zoe' at no cost, it was such an over whelming experience. The hardest challenge in the training was to give my complete trust over to 'Zoe'. "
Amy is a trained remedial therapist and has 18 years experience in natural therapies, since moving here Amy has built up a good client base.
Having guide dog 'Zoe' allows Amy mobility and to be independent. The MCN asked Amy how she was coping with access and roads on Magnetic Island. "I live in Nelly Bay close to Sooning Street, what would really be helpful is to have a pedestrian crossing near the harbourside shopping complex. I know there is a pedestrian refuge there, however I sometimes have to stand there for up to 10 minutes before we can cross the road. Motorists seem to be oblivious to us when we are standing on the footpath to cross roads. I have to rely on Zoe as my sight and my sense of hearing, if that is impeded by a lawn mower or any industrial noise in the neighbourhood then my hearing capacity is not at its optimum.
" A pedestrian crossing would not only be beneficial for myself but other sight impaired residents and visitors but also for children, the elderly and frail."
Mayor Jenny Hill said councils everywhere were not installing new pedestrian crossings because of the cost factor".
Amy told the MCN "If council can not see the need for a pedestrian crossing and justify the cost in their budget for Sooning St. the next best thing would be to have a raised section on the road with a sign saying Guide Dogs Cross here."
So if you are driving or walking and see Guide Dogs with their owners you can offer assistance by stopping or letting them know the road is safe to cross.
Amy said " The last thing we want is to cause an accident, please be mindful of our situation if you see us standing road side waiting to cross".
Above; Mayor Jenny Hill with Guide Dog Ali and island resident Amy Tester with her Guide Dog Zoe. Photos Debbie Denison
8th May 2013 Vol 23 Issue 48
'What's On' website up for sale
Magnetic Island Community Development Association's What's On Magnetic Island website was again under the spotlight this week, with the community speculating who might buy the website after association president, Lorna Hempstead, revealed she would “consider offers for the site”.
Speaking exclusively with Magnetic Community News, Lorna fielded questions as to why all the island's media outlets had not been invited to sit down with the association's executive to develop guidelines for the What's On Magnetic Island site.
“You didn't have a website then,” she told MCN editor/publisher Debbie Denison, who had sought such a meeting in vain when funding for the site from the Solar City Townsville project was announced a number of years ago.
However, Lorna, during our audience, said there had been a meeting with all website holders, Magnetic Community News had been excluded.
MCN contacted Mike Mercer of Island Impressions during the week. He could not recall being invited to any such meeting during or before the development of the What's On Magnetic Island website.
We also spoke with Nick Doran, publisher of the Magnetic Informer, who could not recall a meeting either.
Lorna told MCN that a meeting had taken place to discuss the way forward for the website. MICDA decided their What's On website would outshine Townsville's website.
MCN notes that since the advent of the free advertising on MICDA's What's On Magnetic Island site, there appears to have been on a downward spiral of advertising with other media on the island.
Advertising revenue generates funds to bring you the news around the island. This loss of advertising revenue has the potential to impact the island media's ability to do what we do very well, which is to be a good community because we are an informed community, supportive of one another's projects and causes that are at the heart and soul of island people.
Lorna's reaction to the impact on the island's media revenue was dismissive: “You've got to find better ways to promote your business.” We did not put to her the problem she was creating by diminishing news services to the community, though we would like Lorna to address this very real concern which we have raised in a previous article.
Lorna conceded that she had talked with MT editor/publisher, George Hirst, whom she said had indicated that, with his then current technology, he could go no further with his What's On column.
Member for Herbert, Mr Ewen Jones, told MCN: “There are many questions to be answered in relation to the Solar Cities programme. If this grant has been gifted to an organisation or an individual who is in direct competition to a small business, then I am opposed to it. Once again, this Labor Government seems to send conflicting messages. Existing small businesses are doing it tough enough without the Government becoming a direct competitor.”
MCN has long been plagued by businesses and organisations complaining about the What's On Magnetic Island website.
To this Lorna said she wished people would stop whinging and bring their complaints to MICDA so something could be done about them.
“If they have complaints about us they should talk with us,” she said. “If they have complaints about MIRRA (Magnetic Island Residents' and Ratepayers' Association) they should talk with MIRRA...Australians have a tall poppy syndrome...I wish this country would just grow up.”
During the week after our audience with Lorna, MCN contacted business people and those representing various organisations on Magnetic Island who had previously contacted us about their complaints about the What's On Magnetic Island site. We were told by many people they had made representations to Lorna and to webmaster of the What's On Magnetic Island page, volunteer Sara Shaw, about inaccuracies on the site, to no effect.
MCN editor/publisher Debbie Denison, during our audience with Lorna, brought up that Fresh off the Vine at the Saturday markets had been left on the site for quite some time after this activity had ceased, to be told by Lorna to show her where this was on the website, which she did, because bringing this to Lorna's attention had initially met with a strenuous denial that there were inaccuracies on the site. One business affected by Fresh off the Vine claims to have brought this to MICDA's attention on more than one occasion, to no avail. This same business has a series of complaints about the website brought to its attention by visitors to the island.
Another organisation head told us: “We don't use the website any more but if they put something up about our events and they put up what we're not keen on we've got no control over it. It's not user friendly. I think the problem is it's heavily reliant on the volunteer webmaster. Every time I wanted to put something up I'd have to go via the webmaster and she's so busy it never goes up how I want it. It doesn't have the immediacy for local use. They don't have the funds to pay someone.”
Lorna also told MCN that the website was useful for newcomers to the island and had superseded the need for the Newcomer's packs that MICDA used to provide.
She said that the website would continue in its existing format, denying that events that advertised meal and drink prices were in fact advertisements, rather than event listings.
“What is an event?” she countered. “Is a meeting an event?”
Lorna also went on the attack when questioned about the recent April 13, 2013 event listing for the visit by the Greenpeace vessel, the new Rainbow Warrior III.
The listing used copy that was political, with Lorna asking, “what is political”, putting up a barrage of possibilities.
However, MCN persisted, drawing to Lorna's attention that the website's attack on the coal industry and apparent support of the Greenpeace position might well have required a tag indicating who the spokesperson was for the advertisement.
In fact, if it had been within 32 days of the Federal election, according to a staffer for Senator Jan McLucas, then the advertisement might well have been in breach of Electoral Act requirements in this regard. This would suggest that the administrators of the site need to take heed of this warning about politicising the site with an election looming and the rules attached to this, or face the consequences.
MCN wonders at the wisdom of MICDA biting the hand that fed them the grant to kick the site off, the Solar Cities Townsville Project, which was run in no small way to benefit Ergon Energy to enable Ergon to delay a third submarine cable to Magnetic Island. The irony here is that Ergon is largely coal dependent.
MICDA has had plenty of practice at biting the hand that feeds this island, that of the tourists. Its and MINCA’s Mud Island letter box drop last week objecting to the proposed expansion of Townsville Port must also be deemed as political. We have to question if this is the way we want Magnetic Island to be perceived by our visitors – as Mud Island?
MT editor/publisher, George Hirst, emailed in response to our queries regarding the What’s On Site: “We don't discuss our business dealings with the Community News.”
The MCN also queried Ms. Hempstead on MICDA's financial situation, as several concerns had been raised by community members. We were bluntly told it was none of our business as we were not MICDA members.
The MCN still questions why MICDA was given a grant of $6,500 from Solar Cities for the website when at that time they had in excess of $35,000 in the kitty. And why at their last AGM there still is $27,000 sitting in their bank account?
MICDA membership figures shows MICDA has approx. 65 memberships @ $25 per membership, this hardly gives MICDA a mandate to speak for the island.
The MCN will not be putting in an offer for the What's On Site , as I pointed out to Ms. Hempstead the money for the site was grant monies, to which she replied "What about all the hundreds of volunteer hours we have put in?"
The site was set up 3 years ago, much of the general information has not changed since then and is out of date, obsolete and misleading. The site is cumbersome, not user friendly and nothing for MICDA to be beating their chest about. We do not believe the site is a community asset.
If MICDA wants to sell the site, does this not make it a business? Will the money go back into the community or sit in MICDA coffers, as appears to be the case with its 'Black Spots' money for over 6 years , while MICDA has squeezed our local small businesses for donations ?
For those who have complained about MICDA and they way it operates, our advice is join the association and ask questions yourself, you are entitled to get all answers.
Meanwhile I will get back to looking after my business, which I own and operate, employing local residents, supporting local businesses and the community at large.