Bridge Across the Narrows?

As published in issue # 33 of The Coastal Passage

by Lynne Kombrekke

Whilst visiting Gladstone recently, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of going on a morning cruise up the Harbour towards 'The Narrows'. What a beautiful day.

It has been many years since I have been in that section of the Harbour. Industry with their ever-expanding wharves flanked the western shoreline but the area to the east and north remains unspoilt.

As I was in the process of updating my late father's book, "Noel Patrick's Curtis Coast", it was interesting to compare the information in the book to the actual area. Recent research had unveiled that there was talk about a bridge being built across 'The Narrows' joining Curtis Island to the mainland and I wanted to see first hand where the bridge was proposed to be built from Laird Point (south of Graham Creek on Curtis Island) to Friend Point on Kangaroo Island.

I then looked at the book and reread a section that my dad wrote in 1990 -
"Much has been made in recent times of tourist complexes near Cape Keppel and Black Head with everything from shale oil mining to steel works as future possibilities on or near Curtis Island. Let one hope that the powers that be have sufficient grey matter to understand the importance of keeping these water ways absolutely unrestricted as to the type of vessel using them. Too many waterways have already been lost to reasonable navigation because of the short-sightedness of even those government departments that boast of protecting same. Surely certain minimum clearances under any structure, whether it be bridge, power line, pipe line or what have you, should be laid down for the different categories of tidal waterways. This could vary from the height of a fisherman standing in his tinnie at HWS in the most remote mud creek to completely unlimited requirements for important channels such as The Narrows, Sandy Straits or Hinchinbrook Channel which take very tall masted vessels. Developers on islands do their thing with full knowledge of their situation and should not expect the rights of others be subjugated to their whims for power lines or bridges."

For those people who knew my father will acknowledge and recognize his passion for the Curtis Coast area having been born in Gladstone and living his whole life in the town. Dad was also asked to do a submission on "Safeguarding of Navigational Waterways" for a Curtis Coast Study workshop for the "Department of Environment and Heritage" in December 1992 which detailed many of the local waterways including 'The Narrows'.

He was not a man against 'progress' or 'development' but a person with a brilliant foresight into the future. Dad died in August 1993 so was unable to continue with his quest for commonsense.

Like my father, I am very passionate about the Curtis Coast area and would like to see "The Narrows" remain navigable to all craft, whatever shape, size or height they may be. Let us hope that commonsense prevails.

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