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Keeping faith resort will be restored to former glory

The road to the Laguna Quays marina and boat ramp has been closed to the public since Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays in March 2017.
The road to the Laguna Quays marina and boat ramp has been closed to the public since Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays in March 2017.
AN OWNER of a Laguna Quays condo is refusing to sell her property like her neighbours, holding on to hope the largest mainland resort in the Whitsundays will be returned to its former glory.   Jenny Weinstein bought into the resort two years before Mackay Regional Council auctioned parts of the precinct to recoup about $2.1million in unpaid rates.   The property acquisition came two years before Mackay Regional Council auctioned parts of the precinct to recoup about $2.1million in unpaid rates.

In 2012, employees were sacked and it's estimated the resort owed the council $1 million in unpaid rates.

When Fullshare Holdings Group bought the resort in 2013, Ms Weinstein hoped the refurbishment of the troubled resort would soon follow.

After the resort's acquisition, Fullshare managing director Yi Yu said the company was planning to redevelop the existing facility, particularly the Turtle Point golf course, hotel and marina.

But this plan is yet to materialise.

 

Laguna Quays resort during it's heyday.
Laguna Quays resort during it's heyday. Peter Holt

In 2015, the company announced the first stage of development would start in 2016, but nothing got off the ground, and Fullshare last year announced Richard Luk as the executive president of comprehensive real estate development to lead the project.

But for property owners including Ms Weinstein, unpaid council rates and employee superannuation, investigation by the ATO and failure to deliver on refurbishment promises by the new owners mean only one thing.

"We bought at the top end of the market. It's quite sickening to see the current price listed," she said.

Last year a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit overlooking the ninth fairway of Turtle Point Golf Course sold for $80,000.

"As soon as the main part of the resort closed down and the golf closed, it made it almost impossible to use the place. We paid quite a few hundred thousand dollars and now it's completely worthless," MsWeinstein said.

"It's very sad. We are holding on because I still have faith in the place and the people surrounding the place.

"But I think it will happen."

 

Laguna Quays some time after the resort closed in 2012.
Laguna Quays some time after the resort closed in 2012. Tony Martin

Ms Weinstein said there was no tenant in her Laguna Quays property, she visited once a year from Melbourne and a professor of marine biology and his PhD students were the only ones to get use out of what was envisaged as her own slice of paradise in the Whitsundays.

"When we first arrived, I actually thought we were going to a resort. I packed a black velvet dress and heels. Can you imagine what happened when I got there? The first thing we did was to go to Proserpine and bought shorts and a t-shirt.

"It was just nothing like what we imagined, but at the same time I had an extremely stressful corporate job and to go to a place like that once a year was divine."

Ms Weinstein said the loss of Laguna Quays as an operating resort was a huge loss for the region and for local people.

In its heyday it employed 230 people, including 20 greenkeepers just for the golf course.

"It is a huge opportunity that has just been missed," she said.

Laguna Quays boat ramp

A HYDROGRAPHIC survey at the site of a new boat ramp at Midge Point is expected to be completed in a few months but the ramp is not expected to be operational until 2019.

In the meantime, local boaties have been locked out of the boat ramp attached to the languishing Laguna Quays Resort since Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays in March last year.

Midge Point VMR president Gary Considine said his rescue team had a key to the locked gate at the boat ramp but private boat owners were not permitted to launch vessels at the Laguna Quays ramp.

 

Midge Point FRC members Ashely King, Tony Cook and Dolph Lossberg standing at the entrance to Jimmys Rocks, east of the proposed new boat ramp location.
Midge Point FRC members Ashely King, Tony Cook and Dolph Lossberg standing at the entrance to Jimmys Rocks, east of the proposed new boat ramp location. Tara Cassidy

"It was built with some funding from the State Government but it's the same as the Adani thing, if the government gives Adani some money to build the railway line, it is still going to be Adani's railway line.

"So when the government subsidises something, it belongs to the owner.

"They gave the funding on the premise that it would be a public boat ramp and it has changed hands that many times somewhere or other that it has been lost."

However, the Department of Transport and Main Roads told the Whitsunday Times this was not the case.

"The Laguna Quays boat ramp north of Midge Point was built in 1992 as part of the resort development and is privately owned," a department representative said.

"State funding was not provided for this boat ramp or access road."

Mr Considine said there was a stretch of 50km along the coast between St Helens and the Proserpine River that was not serviced by a boat ramp, except the Laguna Quays ramp.

 

The makeshift boat ramp being used by some anglers to launch their boats, known as Jimmys Rocks.
The makeshift boat ramp being used by some anglers to launch their boats, known as Jimmys Rocks. Contributed

"A lot of people retired down there thinking they could get their big boats in the water and now they can't launch the bloody things.

"If the politicians wanted to, they could tell (Laguna Quays) to open up the bottom road and put a safety float across the marina and say 'get in and out as you can' and that would be it."

A Fullshare employee told the Whitsunday Times that access had been restricted at Laguna Quays boat ramp because it was unsafe after Cyclone Debbie destroyed the marina.

Meanwhile, the department said its hands were tied.

"We are aware the boat ramp has been closed for some time due to damage from Cyclone Debbie, however we have no authority to instruct the resort owner/s to fix and/or reopen the boat ramp or the private access road," the DTMR representative said.

But the department did concede its "Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study identified the need for more boating infrastructure in the Whitsunday region".

Midge Point Fishing Club president Dolph Lossberg said Jimmys Rock had been identified as a site to construct a boat ramp for the people of Midge Point and a meeting with the Mackay Regional Council was planned for today.

"It's very important that Mackay council get on board with this," he said.

Currently, Jimmys Rock has a makeshift concrete approach to the water but no parking facilities and no floating pontoons.

During the recent election, the government committed $1million for an additional lane on the existing boat ramp at Grasstree Beach, as well as committing $4million for ramps across the Mackay/Whitsunday region - which could go towards locations such as Midge Point, Cape Gloucester/Dingo Beach or Shute Harbour.

Mr Lossberg, a long-time advocate for boat-launching facilities at Midge Point, said an environmental impact survey was in the planning and the DTMR had commissioned a hydrographic survey to determine the best location of the facility, to be completed by June this year.

Attempts to contact Laguna Quays Resort and Fullshare directors were unsuccessful.

Topics:  boat ramp fullshare laguna quays resort midge point resort

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