Save Our Foreshore is an association registered under the Incorporated Association Act. It is a community organisation created by citizens of the community of Whitsunday in 2004, having a particular interest in ensuring that public access to the coast and amenity of coastal public lands are preserved and enhanced for the long term benefit of their ecological, scenic and recreational values as enjoyed by the Whitsunday community and visitors to the area.

February 2019: Whitsunday Regional Council implicated in public foreshore land-grab

It has been revealed that the Whitsunday Regional Council may have breached the State Land Act by re-zoning the Paluma Road Urban Bushland public reserve into commercial industrial land. Community members are angry that their concerns have not been taken seriously by either local Councillor Ron Petterson or by the Council as a whole.

The Queensland Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the status of the land as Urban Bushland Public Reserve. Our understanding is that under this status, the Council, as the trustee, is only the manager of the land. They cannot change its use or its purpose, yet according to their letter to residents, it is clear that the Council believes that as Trustee, they can do what they like. In fact the Town Planning legislation and the Land Act are two entirely different pieces of legislation. SOF is calling for an investigation into how this happened and got this far, despite several levels of scrutiny. It also begs the question: what else in this town plan is not above board?

To see the full press release please click here.

Queensland Election November 2017


This election is an opportunity to finally give the Whitsunday community one proven popular vision: the people’s foreshore in central Airlie Beach – a boon to tourism businesses, a longed-for bonus for locals. Both major parties have acknowledged the importance of tourism to the economy of Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays. Funding to invest in infrastructure and foreshore projects that will benefit both the local community and tourists is welcomed, but while Council has been working on a Master Plan for the foreshore, no plan is complete unless the central public reserve and parkland, currently used for a temporary car park, is included. And so far, Council has not included it. The question is, why not?

Still a bitumen car park
Community members campaigning against development of the site


Airlie Beach’s beautiful and much used foreshore parkland, stretching from the Sailing Club to the far end of the lagoon, is split in the middle by a burning hot, ugly bitumen car park and industrial cyclone fencing. Zoned as public open space/parkland, this has been used by Council as a temporary car park for around 30 years. Yes, it’s a ‘conforming use’, but locals, including business leaders, just see a lost opportunity. Back in the early 2000’s, when the Lagoon was being started, the community was consulted in an extensive process called Vision Airlie, on what they’d like to see next to the lagoon. Their votes called for open space parkland and pop-up tropical kiosk-style venues on this site. Instead, a development application sign went up for a high-rise resort development. The community backlash against Council and the Beattie government from 2004-2007 only ended when the current Premier’s father, then Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Henry Palaszczuk made the much applauded decision to end the proposal.

The community fought to have this site turned into parkland but it has not yet happened.
Signing the peptition to make the site parkland.

Council drove another land grab in 2011, disguised as ‘flood mitigation’ and a ‘bend in the road’, which included a main street land swap with a private commercial development. Loudly rejected once again by the community, it was ended by another Labor Government. On both occasions Jan Jarratt was our Labor local member. After these hard won battles, the community sees this location as their ‘Sacred-Site’ and would be prepared, whenever necessary, to go into combat to save it once again. As long as this site is a car park, Council will harbor the agenda for another private commercial development on the site and developers will want the waterfront site for their gain.

The plan that was defeated by the community.


This site is still a ‘thorn in the side’ of successive governments. People know this prime waterfront location is wasted on cars. (This has been shown by various Whitsunday Times polls). The public’s chosen vision of a “cool green parkland that stretches from the Sailing Club on one side, to the end of the lagoon at the other” needs to happen. Council say they will not return the site to parkland until alterative car parking is available, despite there being more parking today than ever before. They say they have no money to create an alternative car park. Successive Councils have made zero attempts to move on this, despite the alternatives that are clearly available and despite collecting decades of developer contributions for parking.

So what really is holding it back?

No funding?

No vision?

Waiting for a better offer?

Sheer lack of will?


Local business leaders and other respected members of the community have hatched an extremely viable plan to overcome local government’s impediments. Funding is the key and this election could be an opportunity to:

  1. Create the alternative central Airlie Beach car parking (3 optimum site options)
  2. Create and complete the family friendly foreshore vision, along with high-revenue opportunities on the site that will yield more than parking now does
  3. Fix the on-going flooding problem that impacts businesses in the main street. (Council is potentially negligent in not fixing the flooding risk as detailed in a report which is now several years old)


Three car parking options are up for investigation:

  1. A basement car park under the current temporary lagoon site
  2. A car park on Council owned land on Waterson Way, currently very popular for (free) parking
  3. A reconfiguration of the south central area of the main street, behind Beaches/Hibiscus Lodge with a car park built on newly purchased land through Wanderers Resort

Car parking Option 1:

A lagoon-side basement car park was recommended for investigation in the 2014/15 Access Movement study. Early talks with engineers show that this is feasible and the Department of Natural Resources has indicated they may consider it. No land purchase would be needed and only shallow excavations would be required (the current car park level is already some 1.5m below the surrounding parkland and can be built up, rather than excavated down). The risks we believe would be from:

  1. Council not fixing the upstream flooding problem.
  2. Potential litigation should the area flood.
  3. Inadequate underground space to generate cost effective income from parking.

Car parking option 2:

Put the car parking on Council owned land, this could be a multi-story car park, and it could earn significant revenue. It would not be prone to flooding, would be away from the foreshore and centrally located within easy walking distance to all of Airlie.

Car parking option 3:

Re-configure, re-zone, or purchase land to build a car park and construct new roads behind Airlie Beach through Wanderers and Hibiscus Lodge sites. This would seem the most unlikely and expensive option to bring to fruition.


There’s little argument that this Whitsunday seafront area is wasted on an unsightly, unnecessary bitumen car park. A park stretching all the way from the lagoon to the sailing club, already proven as a facility for tourism events, would greatly enhance the Whitsunday mainland’s tourism credentials. It is also a popular area used by Whitsunday families, especially for children. For years there have been calls for an expanded children’s waterpark, like Townsville’s. The site, if used for events, could lead to at least a doubling of revenue for Council.

So, now is the time for funding to be allocated for this popular and long waited for infrastructure and, post-Debbie, a very positive reconstruction plan providing jobs and income for the longer term.

The question now is: WHAT WILL IT BE, COUNCIL?

Council seeks community’s long-term vision for Shute Harbour

Community Consultation will be taking place over the next month to allow residents to put forward their ideas for the long-term future of Shute Harbour. The marine facility at Shute Harbour was damaged extensively during Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie, with funding for major repairs recently granted by insurers and through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). Before major restoration works take place over the next year, Council would like to know what the community feels is important for the future of Shute Harbour. At this stage, Council will only be able to restore the damaged terminal buildings, seawall, jetties and pontoons, however there is an opportunity for future-proofing the site. Mayor Andrew Willcox said the consultation process would allow for all ideas and suggestions to be recorded and considered during restoration. “We may not have the funds right now to expand upon the repairs, but we can make sure we don’t rule anything out for long-term planning,” he said. “We want to get this right, and put ourselves in the best position possible for any future development.” “By future-proofing the facility, we can make sure we budget appropriately for any upcoming development at Shute Harbour.”

Read SOF's submission.

Not Needed, Not wanted!
View of Shute Harbour as it is now

This proposal will turn World Heritage seabed, surrounded by National Park and a publicly accessible foreshore with spectacular views, into private property. The marine habitat will be destroyed, and the views obliterated by high buildings and high breakwaters. This will be replaced with:

  • a 395 berth marina
  • a 109 suite resort hotel
  • a retirement resort with 70 apartments,
  • a managed resort with 52 lots
  • a supermarket and specialty shops

What it could become

Another step in the 'Death of a thousand cuts' approach to managing development on the Great Barrier Reef.

This project will obliterate high-conservation value, productive seagrass habitat surrounded by Marine Park and National Park, home to dugongs, turtles and juvenile fish.

The reclamation of seabed is listed as a 'threatening process' to the health of the Great Barrier Reef by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Increased boat traffic will result in the deaths of sea turtles as their habitat is replaced by a marina. These animals do not just 'go somewhere else'; they are site attached and will keep returning until they are killed by a boat propeller.

What it could become

This style of development is a thing of the past.

Developments which rely on destruction of public assets such as productive seabed habitats, in order to create private real estate and profits, are dinosaurs from the 1980s and should be a thing of the past.

Approximate area of seabed to be developed

This proposal is likely to cost Whitsunday ratepayers dearly

The track record of proposals such as this one in Queensland is not good. More often than not developments run out of money long before they are completed, leaving ratepayers to clean up the mess and finish off what has been started, and leaving promises made to the public unfulfilled.

Shute Harbour to become a 10 year building site

Can we expect more of this?

Sediment plume from coastal development Whitsundays, 05/02/2008

See what is proposed for Shute Harbour: Shute Harbour Marina Resort brochure.

Read SOF's full response to the Shute Harbour Marina Proposal supplementary EIS.

Airlie Beach Foreshore Revitalisation: Save Our Foreshore submission

Airlie Beach markets

Save Our Foreshore has consulted with the Airlie Beach Market stall holders and spoken with a range of other community members, as well as meeting with the RPS Group.

We have formulated the following proposal:

SOF Submission to Airlie Beach Foreshore revitalisation

We would welcome community feedback on this submission.

Not Needed, Not wanted!


Approved: Shute Harbour to become a 10 year building site

Enough is Enough

Can we expect more of this?

Sediment plume from coastal development Whitsundays, 05/02/2008



10 December 2013

With the latest announcement in the almost 30 year saga of a proposed marina development in Shute Harbour, Minister Seeney has failed to respond to legislation that requires the proof of need for the marina development on public foreshore and World Heritage seabed in Shute Harbour, says President of Whitsunday community group Save our Foreshore Suzette Pelt..

“Amongst many other criteria which have not been met, need is a core criteria for approval”.

In announcing the virtual approval of this development, Mr Seeney has also ignored the genuine concerns of hundreds of local people who made written objections to the commercial development which includes, along with many hectares of reclaimed and storm surge vulnerable land for housing, several 4 and 5 story residential and commercial buildings lining the shoreline.

“We have two marinas under development in Airlie Beach which is the hub of tourism and boating activity. One marina development is still in receivership. There are some 5000 house lots approved for development on the Whitsunday coast along with several years supply of apartments, so it is very hard to see why the region should risk so much when there is no need”. Suzette Pelt says.

“Marina developments and particularly those that require massive dredging and construction for cyclonic conditions have a track record of financial failure. All the evidence is there, from North Queensland to the Gold Coast, their record speaks for themselves. They open a Pandoras box of problems. This Government has learned nothing from the Hinchinbrook disaster”.

“Let’s get our existing marinas, shops and restaurants full and profitable before even considering the need to put massive commercial development in Shute. Tourists can go anywhere in the world and see concrete, high-rises and marinas, but there is only one naturally beautiful Shute Harbour”.

“Some people may think this is a fabulous development for the Whitsundays but once they get the full picture, the reality is far from that. For example, for fishermen it means the loss of a protected fish breeding habitat and mangroves; for inner islands and resorts it will bring deterioration in water quality and for the area’s tourists the loss of stunningly scenery as you round the corners and the vistas of islands and rain forested hills come into view”.

SOF also collected some 2500 petition signatures during the latest revival of the proposal.

For more information please contact:

Suzette Pelt, President

P.O. Box 59, Airlie Beach QLD 4802

Tel: 0419 768 195



Save Our Foreshore is an association registered under the Incorporated Association Act. It is a community organisation created by citizens of the community of Whitsunday having a particular interest in ensuring that public access to the coast and amenity of coastal public lands are preserved and enhanced for the long term benefit of their ecological, scenic and recreational values as enjoyed by the Whitsunday community and visitors to the area.


For some time we have been battling to prevent a proposed marina construction and massive land development at World Heritage Shute Harbour – once again, the project involves loss of public land.

The long awaited Shute Harbour Marina Proposal, Supplementary EIS (SEIS) was released for public comment closing April 29 2013. While the project's proposed footprint was a little smaller than previously proposed, the changes were essentially cosmetic and all the principal economic, social and environmental objections to its approval remained in place. SOF prepared a number of tailored submissions based on a range of issues for the public to fill in and send. To see the submissions go to the Shute Harbour page on this website.


Save Our Foreshore Inc. is a community group originally formed to protect publicly owned foreshore land in Queensland's Whitsunday region.

SOF's initial, and successful, campaign was to prevent the giveaway of public foreshore at Airlie Beach and the subsequent construction of a high rise development on that site by the Outrigger Hotel Group. It was clear from the outset that the proposed development failed to comply with the then-Whitsunday Shire Council's planning scheme in a number of ways.

SOF's recent campaigns include a resurrection of a threat to this same patch of public foreshore land. A second proposal to do a land swap with a private property owner would have seen a four storey hotel in the centre of this land.

Groundhog day for Airlie’s public foreshore

Airlie’s public foreshore parkland (currently car park) once again became the focus of controversy with public land in danger of being swapped into ‘private hands’. Save Our Foreshore and its thousands of supporters fought this battle five years ago and were obliged to fight it again in 2011/12. Despite attempts to discredit SOF and spread rumours, SOF and the community were, for a second time, succesful in their fight to preserve public parkland and have the foreshore’s temporary parking lot preserved as green space for everyday public use and for tourism’s massive outdoor events market.

SOF has also agreed to support a campaign by residents of Bowen, a town in the north of the new Whitsunday Regional Council area (council formed on March 15, 2008).

The Bowen Residents Action Association is objecting to a number of moves by the council and the State government, including the proposed construction of an aluminium refinery just north of the town.