New twist at Doonella

Kabi Kabi elder Brian Warner (second from right) joins residents for a heritage walk. Supplied.

By Phil Jarratt

The saga of the Lake Doonella walkway – first reported last month in Noosa Today – has taken on a strange new twist, with Noosa Council closing public access to the controversial and recently cleared Shields Street to Moorindil Street section on 9 September, citing “safety concerns over higher than anticipated usage”.

The group of Tewantin residents who first raised concerns about the overgrown state of this section of the Doonella Wetlands Nature Reserve was blindsided by the sudden closure. A spokesperson commented: “The use of the pathway demonstrates there is a strong community need for this infrastructure, as recently endorsed in Council’s Cycling and Walkway Strategy and Implementation Plan … We would like to know what safety concerns (if any) the well-used pathway is posing?”

The group posted on Noosa Community Noticeboard Facebook page: “Further to Noosa Today’s front page article in August, a new walkway track has been established by Council, supported by Councillors Lorenston and Juresivic. The pathway has also been endorsed in Council’s cycling and walking strategy … the local community have been walking the track daily, which is established on top of existing Unitywater undergound infrastructure. Public land.”

The post continued: “However, in a surprise turn of events an email was received from Council’s new Director of Infrastructure, advising of the track’s sudden closure. In response to this – we asked Council what safety concerns (if any) the well-used pathway is posing? The current pathway alignment is on existing infrastructure and is akin to walking along other areas of road reserve and natural foreshore like Weyba Esplanade.”

In the 8 September email to the community group’s leaders, Council’s infrastructure chief Larry Sengstock said council had commissioned a boundary survey of the area and the walkway would remain closed until that had been completed. However, the group subsequently learnt Council had yet to even engage a surveyor for the job.

While the Tewantin residents are not happy about the walkway closure, sources told Noosa Today that they were “playing the long game”.

A spokesperson said: “We want Council support on the future of this area and we want to take it to a positive outcome.

“The group has obtained a legal opinion about the ambulatory boundaries from an environmental law firm which talks about the public interest test and an immediate survey of the land to determine what is public. The group has also joined forces with the Noosa Integrated Catchment Association (NICA) and their ecologist to form a partnership for a survey of the Noosa lower estuaries so that we can the fix problems and keep our water quality rating up. It’s all related to the general health of the river, and Doonella plays such an important part in that. The initial goal is to weed and revegetate the road reserve areas at the end of Shields Street.

“The ultimate goal is to provide community access to the foreshores while improving the vegetation and stormwater around the lake“, the spokesperson said.