Monday, 7 February 2011

X Base Backpackers Trashed! But don't blame it on Yasi

Before Yasi - The Boardwalk
and beachfront rubble
I posted some time ago about base Backpackers (X Base) here on Magnetic Island and their apparent disregard for both the environment they seek to make money from and for the responsibilities that come with having one of the most unique commercial tourism sites in North Queensland. 

As I understand it, X Base Magnetic Island is the only 'resort' (loosely defined) in Australia and one of the few in the world where you can lean to scuba dive on coral from the beach.  To do so anywhere else involves a boat trip and associated expense and is a prime reason for backpackers coming to the island - it's the cheapest place to learn to dive and or get your hours up for an instructors ticket.

Before Yasi - Part of the pool retaining wall
showing broken infrastructure and rubble

As the first two pictures show, the Recreational Tourism Group Pty Ltd,  (the owners of X Base who are in turn owned by, amongst others, Babcock & Brown and Accor Hotels) have for a long time treated their absolute beach frontage with contempt.  The second of those pics is of their beach frontage damage that was never repaired/removed after (I think) Cyclone Tessi in 2000 or maybe a king tide since.

That second pic was taken on Tuesday afternoon - the day before Yasi hit.  The 'resort' had (rightfully, given its location) been fully evacuated by then.  On my Yasi night post I wondered what would be left the next morning. 
The results are below:

After Yasi - This more or less corresponds to the second of the before pics.
The spot in the before pics is on the left of this one, next to the bolder.

After Yasi - From a different angle - there is/was a swimming pool behind that wall
After Yasi - The (private) ramp to the beach which has to stretch below the high tide mark.
After Yasi - The boardwalk corresponding to the first of the before pics.
The rubble shown in that before pic has clearly moved.  Some has been lost to the sea
These results were completely predictable - a sure bet.  While none of the buildings at the 'resort' appear damaged, their sea frontage is a wreck for only one or, more likely, both of two reasons:
  • Their sea frontage structures should never have been built there in the first place.  The seawall by the pool and the rocks under the boardwalk have to (at best) be on the high tide line.

  • The structures were extremely poorly (read cheaply) built and certainly not constructed to a standard that would survive the inevitable storm surge.  Some closer pics of their seawall footings which I hope to get over the next few days will provide ample evidence of the shoddy construction.
While there are a lot of questions to be answered about why this was allowed to happen and/or never redressed, the reality is that the Recreational Tourism Group Pty Ltd and X Base are responsible for their structures and they have done nothing in the years that they have been custodians of the beach to ensure that those structures were both attractive to visitors and safe to the environment (and to visitors and beach walkers for that matter).

Given the damage that they will have inflicted on the beach and  inshore reef, I reckon it's time to go this mob - after all, the damage was within in their control and as such is their fault, NOT Yasi's as they will no doubt claim to their insurance company and Authorities. 

Copies of this post will be going to the EPA, National Parks, GBRMPA, Townsville City Council, local members and the relevant State and Federal Ministers over the next day or so.


Getting your bearings: Nelly Bay looking west on the morning after Yasi.
X Base is located at the end of the Bay, just out of frame.  There are no other beachfront structures between where this pic was taken and where X Base are located at the end of the Bay


AndyM said...

Thanks for your report on the XBase.
As a potential resident of Magnetic can you let us know what happened to the rest of the island, the buildings, flora and forna?
There's not much being published in the mainstream press.


Island View said...

Hi AndyM - in short, the buildings are ok, the old jetty is looking very, very sad and the bush looks stripped bare (but only for a month or so). As someone said Yasi brought us "pruning winds".

I've posted some pics here: