Residents are under house arrest
IT’S like being under house arrest – but Denise Dunn has committed no crime.
She just happens to live at Stockyard Point, a beauty spot 40 kilometres north of Yeppoon where non-essential travel is banned.
Residents like Denise have a permit to leave the beautiful township for essential purposes – like stocking up with food or medicine or for a hospital appointment.
But no one, not even close family or friends, is allowed to visit since Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service closed the access road on March 9.
“It makes us feel so isolated. How many other people in Australia are in this situation?” said Denise.
Stockyard Point has 33 houses and about a third of them are occupied year round. The others are used as weekend and holiday retreats.
Residents have been issued with permits, but warned if they are caught driving on the dirt and sand track that links them to civilisation for non-essential purposes those permits could be removed.
Councillor Glenda Mather says the restrictions on travel – made to protect the damaged road – are not only unreasonable, but discriminatory and has called on the government to adopt a more considerate approach.
Cr Mather said she had been shocked to hear of the ban and even questioned if it could be legal to restrict residents from being visited by their family and friends.
But she understood the desire of rangers to protect such a fragile environment.
“The fault lies with the irresponsible hoons in four-wheel-drives who have caused massive damage to the road. They are ruining it for everyone.
“I think there has been a problem with communication between the parks and wildlife service and the residents that could have been handled much better.
“The residents are very respectful of their environment and are the caretakers of it. They don’t go up and down that road for the hell of it because it is so rough.”
Stockyard Point received 946mm of rain in February and a further 194mm so far this month, but Denise says the road is passable and safe.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service said the access road was waterlogged, making it impossible for vehicles to travel on it without causing substantial damage.
However The Morning Bulletin understands rangers expect the conditions to improve and could lift the ban on non-urgent travel within the next few days so Stockyard Point could be opened up in time for Easter.
The government has closed numerous campgrounds and tracks for the Easter break across the state, including Byfield, because of sodden ground and boggy access roads.
At Byfield, the national park area is closed, but the adjoining conservation park and state forest will be open to visitors during the holiday.
Carnarvon Great Walk has been sealed off due to flood damage, but the rest of Carnarvon Gorge has re-opened. Parts of Blackdown Tableland National Park are closed.
Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said while it was a shame that a few favourite areas were out of action, there were plenty still available.
“Everyone who loves our parks will be grateful for the rain after so many dry years,” she said.