TNQ News
  |  First Published: November 2003


Boat ramps, or the lack of them, has become a real issue in North Queensland. Cairns and Weipa, to name just two locations, are really feeling the pinch but for different reasons.


The new waterfront development on the esplanade in Cairns is a wonderful thing for tourists but it has come at a real price for local boaties. The main ramp at the Marlin Marina in Trinity Inlet was moved so far upstream that many anglers wanting to go offshore have shifted to using Yorkey’s Knob ramp, as it takes at least another 30 minutes each way to get through the four-knot zone in Smiths Creek and then out to where the old ramp was located.

Add to this the problem of the ramp at the Sugar Terminal being so silted up that very few people want to use it, especially when you’re wading through diesel, oil and sludge coming from the commercial fleet and slipways in the area. At low tide large boats can’t float into the ramp because of siltation. This has resulted in massive overcrowding at the two-lane Yorkey’s Boat Club ramp, with big queues and nowhere to park.

Until this year the longest I’ve waited to get into the water at Yorkey’s Knob was 10 minutes, when I was fifth in line. Earlier this year I waited 45 minutes and I’ve heard of people waiting much longer. This situation will eventually improve when the recently approved Bluewater Development puts in a three-lane ramp as part of its plan, but until then there’ll be a lot of ill feeling amongst anglers and boats fighting over queues and parking.


The situation in Weipa is even more dire, with the closure of one of only two ramps in a town which reportedly has the highest per capita boat ownership in the country. The resent closure of the Rocky Point boat ramp has put all the pressure on the two-lane facility at Evans Landing on the Embley River, the only other ramp in town. The overcrowding at the remaining ramp is compounded by the wash-down facility being at the top of the ramp, which virtually blocks off one lane when being used.

Heavy lobbying has so far failed to fix the problem and it will probably take a fatality to get some action. The local Coast Guard takes about an hour to get from the launching ramp in the Embley around into the Mission River. In rough weather this journey itself can be quite hazardous.

With around 500 boats in a town where fishing is a major pastime this is a real concern, yet authorities seem to be ducking for cover. The amount of revenue being raised by the state government from boat and trailer registration in the town should be used to give Weipa a ramp suited to the demand.


The new Coral Reef Fin Fish Management Plan is going to cause some real problems at boat ramps along the entire coast. Very few ramps, especially in the north, have fish cleaning and disposal facilities on site – yet in the new legislation, starting from December this year, recreational anglers won’t be able to fillet fish at sea. Many people live in situations, like units, where they can’t clean fish at home, so where are they going to fillet their catch and dispose of the frames?

The state government needs to put in fish cleaning and disposal facilities at all major ramps, otherwise there’ll be big problems with the cleaning and dumping of fish frames at boat ramps attracting crocs. This is already a problem at various times and the situation could become far worse in the near future unless the state government responds. Their legislation will be compounding the problem, so they should pay to fix it.


The water level in Tinaroo Dam has reached critical level, with all water-skiing and jet-skiing banned until further notice from the Boating and Fisheries Patrol.

This is not only a problem for skiers. Fishos need to be extremely careful when moving around the dam, as there have been reports of boaties hitting tree stumps and fence posts just below the surface.

At the time of writing the water level is at 33%, which is over 11m below the spillway and falling. This situation will not improve dramatically without a major weather event such as a cyclone or tropical low dumping its load in the catchment.

The barra fishing is at an all-time high but so are the hazards, so please take care this summer.

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