Poona Community Enhancement & Infrastructure Planning

Our opportunity to shape our township to meet our future needs. A community working together, following the right processes and in concert with all levels of government can achieve a great deal. To do otherwise often plays into the hands of government agencies not wanting to spend money in our town.

Timeline    Community Engagement    QG Boating Forecast Study    Council Services    Formal Documents    Property Data    Census Data    Current Status   

 

Being a 10 Year Plan - what should Poona look like in the 2030s
Our Town - Our Say

 

Remain like this?

Poona foreshore

Poona trails

Poona mangroves

Poona foreshore

Poona boating

Poona channel

Poona trailer parking

Poona foreshore

or should it be something entirely different?

Poona Infrastructure Planning

The Poona Community Progress Association (PCPA), on behalf of the Poona community, has long advocated for better infrastructure in our town. Underpinning the desire is to make our town more liveable and ensure the town receives its share of services and amenities.

This page is designed as a medium to share facts and follows the evolution of concerted efforts on behalf of our wonderful community. Over many decades, all actions have had broad support of the majority of residents and since 2016 all actions undertaken have followed agreed actions established at open community workshops and actioned by the PCPA in accordance with those determinations.

As can be seen from the historic records, be very mindful of actions inconsistent with majority community positions. Please, check any statements/opinions against the facts and be conscious

  • to acknowledge democratically and balanced made decisions, and importantly
  • maintain community solidarity as the key to success, as division ensures failure

For clarification of any aspects or general enquiries please contact the Infrastructure Planning Sub-Committee (IPSC) by email.

Poona's Infrastructure Timeline

Below is a summary of actions in chronological order and incorporating links to supporting information and links to download key documents.

1960s

In 1967, the original 640 acres of freehold land was sub-divided with a section on Outridge Avenue/Boronia Drive (29 lots) going to auction. The balance of the parcel of land was sold to the Poona Palms Pastoral Company.

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1970s

A channel was dredged in the 1970's (Owen Cox St) by the Poona Palms Pastoral Company for the specific purpose to load and unload cattle. The channel was quite a way out from high water mark. The spoil was used as fill in the caravan park with the park owned by the pastoral company.

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1980s

The dredged channel was accessed by local fisherman directly from the foreshore (no ramp). Through these early years the community strongly advocated for a proper boat ramp.
With continued lobbying, in the late 1980s a single boat ramp was constructed to join the existing dredged channel. The community was quite accepting of the facility, generally meeting the needs at the time but noting there were no designated trailer parking bays and the ramp facing the prevailing SE winds was a difficult ramp for launching and retrieving.

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1990s

In 1992, the developer (Peter Kurts) acquired from the Poona Palms Pastoral Company a 230ha site at Poona. The land had approval for 144 residential blocks. The Maryborough City Council (MCC) had strongly opposed any development in Poona but their decision is understood to have been overturned on court application.

Poona started to develop with nicely constructed housing blocks and the town started its growth.

In 1994, the first actions were taken on preservation of the Great Sandy Strait for environmental protection.

The boat ramp was becoming less usable due to the silting of the channel. The PCPA through the second half of the decade lobbied to get the channel dredged. See historic photos.

The MCC, with the financial backing of the developer (Peter Kurts) had applied for dredging of the channel and an upgrade of the ramp but that request was denied by Fisheries Department on environmental grounds. MCC lodged an Appeal to the Fisheries Tribunal and a public meeting was held at the boat ramp demonstrating the community's desire to have the channel dredged.

Issues arose in the community with a long-time resident opposing the dredging purportedly because it would only attract more boats to the area and take the fish. The resident, ignoring the community's desires organised a petition with 70 signatures against the proposal. MCC withdrew the Appeal and the project shut down.

In 1999, with environmental interests of the migratory shorebirds, a Ramsar Wetland Area in Great Sandy Strait was declared.

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2000s

Early in this decade the new land developer sought to decrease the planned block sizes on the balance of the estate (higher density living). The community strongly objected on environmental grounds having particular regard to the agreement governing the world heritage status of the Strait. Legacy storm water issues were another factor. Strong lobbying resulted in the proposal being overturned.

Two more concerted efforts were made in this decade by the PCPA to get the channel dredged with the last effort focussed on safety should there be a serious bushfire. Council and the State Government continued their stance that the area was environmentally sensitive and would not gain the necessary approvals from the environmental agencies.

In 2006, the Great Sandy Strait was declared a Marine Park.

In 2008, the MCC was amalgamated into a larger conglomerate, the Fraser Coast Regional Council (FCRC) with management moving to Hervey Bay and a community perceived view that there was less interest in the towns on Sandy Strait (refer to table of Poona's gains/losses).

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2016

General community displeasure remained as to be the 'poor cousins' when it came to infrastructure, including the sub-standard boat ramp. Colloquially, the ramp was referred to as the 'boat ramp to nowhere'.

Concerns were expressed as to the need to cater for both a growing and an ageing community (refer to population data). The depressed land values in Poona, in comparison to our neighbouring communities (>30% difference), was clearly a concern as is the case for most people, their home was their greatest asset. Many residents forced to relocate because of health issues were faced with significant financial shortfall in purchasing elsewhere. Refer to property data

Issues were identified and a stand out was a lack of infrastructure since the developer had gone and FCRC generally reducing services to the town (eg Blue waste transfer bins, removal of second toilet block, foreshore management, closure of green waste dump).

A dedicated Infrastructure Planning Sub Committee (IPSC) was established under the auspices of the PCPA.

MSQ had advised the IPSC of the engagement of GHD Consulting to undertake the latest Statewide assessment of boating infrastructure needs. The IPSC made a formal submission to that study and focussed on 3 important elements – economic, social and safety for an improved boating facility in Poona.

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2017

Initiated by the IPSC, the community was asked to ‘have a say’ on what our town needed and all those inputs were collated into a database and presented without opinions/recommendations etc. to the first workshop.
That community workshop (22 April 2017, over 100 attendees) was held to discuss the ideas presented in the survey and identify the forward actions (10 Pillars). They were-

  1. Pathways & Walking Trails
  2. Beach Erosion - Mitigation
  3. Foreshore Infrastructure
    • Boat Ramp Upgrade
    • Official MSQ Navigational Markings
  4. Foreshore Enhancement
  5. Street Scaping
  6. Precinct Infrastructure
  7. Precinct Enhancement
  8. Community Services
  9. Development
    • Tourism
    • Retirement Village
    • Council Services

For more information refer to the section on Community Workshops/Open Meetings

Collectively these Pillars focussed on the community’s identified needs as a growing and ageing community. One of the 10 Pillars was an improved boating facility and seen as integral to a future plan.

Analysis of tide and wind data showed a ramp that had very limited access. In fact, studying the 2016 Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) data showed that the ramp was only usable for 48% of daylight hours and when wind was taken into account (direction & strength) that percentage was reduced to just 29%. Looking at it another way a fisher wanting to access the Strait on weekend mornings, over the entire 2016 calendar year that was only achievable on a ratio of 1 out of 9 weekends.

Initial enquiries with FCRC and MSQ suggested there was no way any dredging would be undertaken at the existing boat ramp because of environmental impacts and the situation was even greater now that the Strait was part of a Marine Park

MSQ released the GHD recommendations in May 2017 (Queensland Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study 2016) based on boat registrations, regional growth etc. identified Poona as a ‘Priority 1’ (as soon as possible) and with a recommendation of a new facility on Poona Creek. For more information refer to the section on Boating Demand Forecast Study 2017

The IPSC made subsequent written submissions to both FCRC and MSQ outlining Poona’s need.

FCRC held to a view that there was no value in a ramp on the creek as there was no difference to be gained in tide access, a position at on-site meetings debunked by local fisherman and evidence produced of a drone video taken on a spring low (dead low water). Watch the Video (38mb)

MSQ officers inspected the site on the creek and held a meeting with the PCPA outlining issues and the way forward.

The IPSC was invited to make a personal/formal presentation 29 May 2017 to a Councillor meeting detailing both the need for an improved boating facility and also the need for a new town plan covering the spectrum of the identified Pillars. There was clear support at that meeting from the Mayor and Councillors.

However, despite the support of the Councillors it was evident the FCRC bureaucracy resisted any commitment in advancing both the town plan and actions on the boat ramp. Eventually, FCRC and MSQ agreed to a joint Feasibility Study with the proposed boat ramp. MSQ was to evaluate all the water/ramp matters and FCRC the car parking and land tenure aspects to form the joint study outcome.

Concurrent with the boat ramp actions, the IPSC continued lobbying for an agreed town plan making many submissions and holding numerous meetings at all levels.

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2018

Despite the agreed community position on the 10 Pillars and all the work that had already progressed, in April 2018 one resident emerged and strongly advocated that the proposed new boating facility should be on Poona Point, not on the creek.

There was no indication of any real support for the idea. The alternative was well and truly addressed and dismissed as an option on environmental and economic grounds. Marine Parks about this time released a ‘green paper’ regarding protection of rocky headlands on the Strait. Poona Point is one such rocky headland.

MSQ completed their hydrographic work and the raw data confirmed that the site on Poona Creek offered far greater access than the existing ramp or other possible foreshore sites.

MSQ advised also that as with the existing ramp any other foreshore location experienced the same obstacles (wind, dredging etc). Preliminary geotechnical assessments undertaken and initial cultural assessments did not identify any matters of concern.

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2019

With the progression of the boat ramp Feasibility Study, FCRC generally failed to meet stated deadlines as part of its commitment.

Similarly with the town planning FCRC resistance remained but agreement was finally reached to engage Archipelago Consulting, a well credentialed firm of town planners. On 25 October 2019 Archipelago led a terrific community workshop (over 100 attendees) but in the absence of the completed Feasibility Study a town plan could not be finalised.

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2020

COVID emerged and impacted progression of all aspects associated with the Town Planning and the boat ramp.

Similarly, a level of disquiet on the Poona Creek proposal gained momentum and social media was used along with various letter box drops to discredit the plan of a boat ramp on Poona Creek

Disinformation was promulgated as to the unsuitability of the proposed site particularly citing the height of the cliff. The reality was that the site was on the gully adjacent to the cliff and was the former leasehold land upon which 'Tiger' Thompson had a creek side hut until the 1990s.

A further community workshop was convened on 29 February 2020 (over 150 attending) following the release of the joint Feasibility Study. This was a combined Archipelago, MSQ, and FCRC presentation. For more information refer to the section on Community Workshops/Open Meetings

  • At the workshop, boat ramp and carpark plans were displayed and demonstrated the whole project was suitable.
  • The inaccurate facts around inclines were debunked (ramp steepness 1:8 (the standard incline for boat ramps), a turnaround area relatively flat at just 1:20 and an incline to the carpark 1:10). Overall, nothing unusual.
  • Good suggestions were put forward at the workshop having regard to the median age of Poona residents. FCRC set a formal consultation period with final submissions due by 31 March 2020.
  • Clearly when the majority of the town are in favour with what is proposed they do not bother to make written submissions but the results (31 submissions) were strongly in support (80%). Of the negative submissions, one sought a construction on Poona Point and the others cited it being too difficult a site on the creek and/or opposed on environmental grounds.
  • The final Feasibilty Study included an added section rejecting any prospect of a ramp on Poona Point. See Appendix 'J' of the Feasibility Study
  • With modified plans to include floating walkway etc. the total project cost was estimated (with contingencies) at $4.13m.
  • FCRC at its Council meeting on 23 June 2020 voted unanimously, giving ‘in principle’ support for a new facility on Poona Creek and requested that the feasibility report and preferred conceptual design layouts be used as the basis of a joint pre-lodgement meeting with relevant State Agencies.

At the same workshop, a comprehensive town plan was presented by Archipelago and well received seeking to have infrastructure improvements with the underlying approach to maintain Poona’s natural appearance (minimal concrete/bitumen). Following this presentation of a draft plan to the community, FCRC at its meeting on 25 November 2020, formally adopted the Plan as a component of its town planning suite of documents.

With the Poona Creek boat ramp signed off by Council in June, FCRC executives at a meeting 29 October 2020 advised that land tenure was a key topic in light of the relevant parcel of land for the boat ramp car park having recently been handed back to the Butchulla people.

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2021

On 5 February 2021, a meeting regarding boat ramp progress was convened at our MLA’s office and attendees included FCRC representatives. The FCRC representatives emphasised that there needed to be consultation with changes to an Environmental Reserve and there is also the consideration of Butchulla interests. The tenure aspect needed to be dealt with first even though it was an aspect that should have been done as a consideration in the Feasibility Study. Other advice conveyed to the IPSC was that a FCRC meeting with State Agencies indications were that ‘there did not appear to be the number of red flags previously thought’.

No further meetings were held during 2021 and there were some COVID issues but we were led to believe matters were progressing with land tenure issues.

FCRC wins a prestigious statewide award for community engagement associated with the development of the Poona Town Plan and boat ramp consultation.

A small group emerged in opposition to the Poona Creek boat ramp proposal and ignoring the community's democratically determined decisions took up a petition over the Christmas break canvassing locals and visitors to have the existing Owen Cox St ramp upgraded. History repeating itself and giving government agencies opportunities for an 'out', as had happened also in other towns.

To allay many of the concerns an open community meeting was held on 11 December 2021.
For more information refer to the section on Community Workshops/Open Meetings

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2022

With all that had happened to get a better boating facility, the Feasibility Study completed and essentially a ‘shovel ready’ project for Poona at a cost of $4.13m, it became evident that FCRC failed in its undertaking to negotiate with the Butchulla traditional owners.
A highly regarded Butchulla Elder wrote on 22 February 2022 to FCRC and the State Member advising 

  • that the Butchulla people were being blamed for delays in getting a boating facility citing that there had not been any contact with the Butchulla people on the matter
  • the comments also included advice that the proposed site had pipe clay and was culturally significant (in his view). It was not a formal stance of the Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC) but nonetheless an issue of importance

Instead of taking the matter further through due levels of consultation/negotiation FCRC, in these most dubious of circumstances simply seized on the reference of ‘cultural significance’ and totally withdrew from the project, accordingly advising MSQ of their decision.

While not dismissing the comment around cultural significance, it is of note that the land at the proposed ramp site, under Native Title is ‘non-exclusive use area’. In contrast the area at the existing Owen Cox St ramp is ‘exclusive use area’ and that status extends the full length of the Poona foreshore.

The big question to be answered - what information/facts about the Poona community's desires/requests had been conveyed to the Butchulla Elder to form such a view, and by whom?

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2023

The adopted Poona Town Plan is a 10-year plan but implementation appears to be moving at glacial pace. Essentially nothing has progressed since FCRC sign off in November 2020.

Beach erosion remains a serious concern for many and still no action or even the establishment of a consultative group and/or expert engagement. FCRC's advice in acknowledging delays has cited budget constraints. It should be noted that Poona volunteers, unlike many other communities on the Fraser Coast, do a lot of work with FCRC workers eg. the Parks & Gardens Group that work to keep out town looking at its best (eg maintaining Market Alley and cul-de-sac gardens, public toilet rectification works). Hence, cost savings for Council.

With the Poona Creek boat ramp proposal shut down and with no other viable options available in Poona, MSQ undertook to explore further what could be achieved at the Owen Cox St ramp, particularly some form of shallow dredging. A second Feasibility Study was undertaken that involved-

  • a hydrographic survey
  • preliminary agency approvals, and
  • geotechnical sampling

Those steps were completed in February 2023 and the outcome of the Feasibility Study remains outstanding. If dredging is permitted, the way forward remains unclear as many other elements come into play that potentially make the timeframe quite protracted.

Roughly, every 4 years a comprehensive study is undertaken by Maritime Safety Qld on the future State's boating needs. The latest Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study 2022 was released on Thursday 7 September 2023.

The study is broken into local government regions and with respect to Poona the consultants have recommended that the existing Owen Cox St boat ramp be upgraded to a dual ramp with a fixed walkway. Poona though has been relegated, down from a 'Priority 1' to a 'Priority 3'. Also of note is that there is no reference to dredging or upgrading the car/trailer parking, with the latter ultimately the responsibility of Fraser Coast Regional Council.

With the change in priority for Poona it would appear greater emphasis is now being placed on an expanded capacity of the Tuan ramp. Tuan boat ramp is currently classified as 'near full tide access' which by definition provides 80% tide access. The recommendation is to increase car/trailer parking with an additional 40 spaces.

To download the documents go to "The Demand Forecast Studies" section.

The IPSC continues negotiation with relevant agencies and remains committed to achieve the 2017 community's goal of improved boating access to the Strait.

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In the absence of comparable public infrastructure/government services to that in other coastal communities, Poona's property values will be less than they should be. Hence, every landowner in Poona has a financial stake in appropriate, community approved development.

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or enhanced to be like this?

Poona foreshore

Poona walkways

Poona mangrove walks

Poona foreshore

Poona boating

Poona channel

trailer parking

Poona foreshore

or should it be something entirely different?

Community Workshops/Open Meetings

Workshop 27 April 2017

With numerous community submissions made and collated into a database, the IPSC held an open community workshop on 22 April 2017 to discuss the towns inputs and to firm up on what directions needed to be taken. The presentation covered our evolution as a community and considered what has been happening with property values and the general decline in infrastructure and services in, or available to Poona. Those attending put forward a number of additional ideas to help shape our future direction.

The Workshop Handout of April 2017 can be downloaded       Presentation

Following this initial workshop and with regard to the desire for a better boating facility, the first approach was to FCRC and MSQ that centred on an upgrade of the Owen Cox St ramp but this was very quickly ruled out on environmental grounds.

In May 2017, MSQ had released the GHD Study (Queensland Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study 2016) that identified the need for a new facility on Poona Creek rather than any upgrade of Owen Cox St ramp. FCRC, again after much lobbying agreed to a joint Feasibility Study with MSQ.

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Workshop 25 October 2019

After much lobbying by the IPSC with regard to the urban planning, Council finally acceded to the appointment of Archipelago, a consultant expert urban planner who conducted a second open workshop on 25 October 2019. Below are the links to the relevant documents from the workshop

Full Presentation       Download    Workshop Summary       Download

However, by this stage FCRC had agreed to a joint Boat Ramp Feasibility Study and this work was crucial and integral to the broader Infrastructure Plan. The next stage of the Archipelago consultancy was deferred pending availability of that Feasibility Study.

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Workshop 29 February 2020

The third workshop was organised in concert with FCRC and facilitated by Archipelago. Also in attendance were personnel from FCRC's Engineering Section and a number of technical officers from MSQ, each providing the community with detailed facts upon which to base decisions.

With over 150 locals attending the workshop it was most informative and FCRC and MSQ provided presentations on the outcome of the Feasibility Study with concept drawings of the boat ramp on Poona Creek and the accompanying carpark. Opportunity was provided for extensive questioning from the floor which led to some very positive suggestions.

Both presentations from 29 February 2020 together with the complete Feasibility Study are available for downloading. The latter document is split into two parts -

Boat Ramp Presentation (1mb)   Archipelago (Infrastructure) Presentation (8mb)   Draft Feasibility Study Part 1 (20mb)   Draft Feasibility Study - Annexure, Approvals Summary (19mb)

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Community Meeting 11 December 2021 - New Boating Facility

The PCPA General Meeting on 11 December 2021 was provided with a presentation and update on infrastructure developments by the sub-committee. A PDF copy of the presentation and associated documents can be downloaded below.

Presentation (PDF)    Video - low water/spring tide 38mb    Carpark Concept Design    Ramp Concept Design    Community Consultation    Mayor's Media Release    GM Handout

Further questions are answered in this Q&A.     Q&A

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Fraser Coast Regional
Council Infrastructure/Services

Following council amalgamations in 2008 which had Maryborough City Council merge with Hervey Bay to form the Fraser Coast Regional Council, we look at what infrastructure and services to Poona that have been gained/lost and we note the following.

Gained

Lost

Upgraded playground in Eric Coe Park

Blue waste bin transfer station ceased

Drainage improvements on Boronia Drive

Boonooroo dump operating on reduced hours and restrictions on what can be dumped there

Installation of two second hand bus shelters (from Hervey Bay)

Green dump gone and no alternatives put in place

80 metres of concrete footpath on Boronia Drive (from nowhere to nowhere)

Toilet block on Poona Point removed leaving just one public toilet block for the whole of Poona

 

Foreshore not duly maintained - mowing ceased and palm frond pickup & removal stopped

 

Negligible maintenance undertaken on the walking trails (overgrown and often too boggy to walk)

 

Mobile library cessation

 

Withdrawal of support for the Poona Creek boating facility

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Poona Population Data

From its beginnings in the late 1960s Poona has continued to grow. Early Census data is not available by locality but it can be seen from the below graphs that there is clear upward trends in both population and dwellings. Of particular interest is that the community is showing an ageing population.

 

 

 

To view a larger images - right click on the image and 'open image in new tab' or 'save image'.

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Poona Property Data

In 2016, with concerns about the depressed property market in Poona, questions were raised as to why? A comparison was done that showed the value of properties in Poona were significantly lower than other coastal towns and more broadly other parts of south east Queensland. At the time there was an oversupply of vacant land on the market, leaving Poona values in the order of 30% lower than comparable places.
But the question was - if Poona had comparable public infrastructure, eg a decent boating facility, would that situation change and would the community, has a whole benefit through greater property asset values.

 

 

 

To view a larger images - right click on the image and 'open image in new tab' or 'save image'.

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Formal Documents

FCRC Consultation Results      FCRC Endorsed Poona Town Plan.       Feasibility Study (Final) 44mb     Feasibility Study without Appendices (Final)     Appendix A - Extract from GHD report    Appendix B - Concept Designs (1A &1B)    Appendix C - Concept Designs (3A)    Appendix D - Concept Design (Floating Walkway)    Appendix E - Poona Creek Survey    Appendix F - Carpark Design    Appendix G - Cultural Heritage Assessment    Appendix H - Geotechnical_Investigation    Appendix I - Approvals Part 1    Appendix I - Approvals Part 2    Appendix I - Approvals Part 3    Appendix J - Public Consultation

Poona Town Plan

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Boating Demand Forecast Studies

Approximately every 4 years the State Government undertakes a comprehensive study of future boating needs.

In May 2017 the Queensland Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study 2016, prepared by GHD Consulting, identified Poona as a 'Priority #1' for a new boating facility and recommended a site on Poona Creek.

Fraser Coast has one of the highest boat registrations north of the Sunshine Coast with forecast significant growth and higher demand for boating infrastructure. You can download the full GHD report, sections relevant to Fraser Coast Region or just pages regarding the Poona facility. The latter though excludes supporting data and economic analysis.

Full 2017 Report 39 mb       Fraser Coast 12 mb       Poona Section 1 mb

Again on 7 September 2023 the latest study was released in which the consultants (BMT) recommended that the existing Owen Cox St boat ramp be made a dual facility with a fixed walkway but there is no reference to factors such as dredging or car parking. Poona, in this study was relegated to a 'Priority 3' and emphasis is now focused on an expanded carparking facilities at the Tuan boat ramp. You can download the full report and/or the Fraser Coast section.

Full 2023 Report 7 mb       Fraser Coast 10 mb

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Historic Photos of Owen Cox St Ramp

Aerial photo of the pastoral channel dredged in 1970

boat ramp image

Site of the boat ramp before construction in the late 1980s

boat ramp image

1999 photo depicting the silting of the channel and calls for re dredging

boat ramp image

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Questions & Answers

In response to community concerns at various stages and also responding to the spread of disinformation, question & answer documents were released.

 

Q&A - Dec 2021

Q&A - March 2023

 

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Our community, as always is kept fully informed of developments and regular updates are provided on this web page, via email, Poona Community Noticeboard (Facebook) and the Poona Post. If you are not on the email distribution and would like to receive updates please click here to register.

"It's Our Town - Our Say.

Poona Home Page

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