Every week I see reports of drunken assults in Airlie Beach. Every week the court lists are full of driving under the influence of alcohol convictions, as drinking drivers get found by Whitsunday police. Airlie Beach is supposed to be a tourist destination, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, a sailing paradise and all that good stuff, not a convention of drunken thugs.
Typical police reports in the local newspaper involve three or four arrests when fights and brawls break out between up to a dozen drunk people. These assults seem to occur outside Airlie Beach nightclubs. It seems to me that it isn't just weekends any more. Brawls can happen on any night, and mostly seem to be after midnight. There are up to a dozen police reports of drunk problems each week.
Maybe it is past time to get drinking hours back under control? Some bars are open until 2 or 3 a.m. Nightclubs are open until 5 a.m. If people wanting to drink can't keep enough self control to stay out of fights, then make it harder to get the drinks. The main street of a small tourist town is not a boxing ring.
A Whitsunday Council online poll of 130 people in 2008 showed 60% did not feel safe in Airlie Beach, according to a front page article in the 21 May issue of the Whitsunday Coast Guardian. They also reported that the Proserpine hospital staff saw more people because of alcohol related violence during the week, rather than at weekends as previously. At Easter, no less than four people were knocked unconscious in the main street of Airlie Beach.
It gets worse. For example, a 29 year old Proserpine man was bashed at Banjo's restaurant car park at Cannonvale during the week I wrote this, and was in a critical condition in Townsville hospital. The victim has now died, and a 25 year old British tourist, Daniel Craig Dean, has been charged with manslaughter. Dean has also been charged on 14 drug counts relating to importing drugs via mail from the U.K. sent to an apartment at Whitsunday Terraces Resort, Golden Orchid Drive in the previous year.
A 15 person brawl in the main street of Airlie Beach occurred outside Paddy Shenanigans at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday 9 August 2008. Paddy Shenanigans bar manager reports they had been closed for a half hour at the time of the incident, and that it started on the opposite side of the street. Police say two people have been killed in street fights in the Whitsundays in the past two years. Meanwhile, police want to bar the Moranbah football team from overnight stays, after Mamma Africa's night club was the scene of eight arrests at 3:30 a.m. I totally fail to see why clubs and bars are permitted to remain open beyond midnight when this level of violence continues to happen.
Five people fought outside McDonalds at 3:45 a.m. on Sunday 24 August 2008, according to the Whitsunday Times. A 31 year old man was knocked unconscious and taken to Proserpine Hospital, and a 25 year old was arrested. Both were from Mackay.
In one weekend in December 2008, before midnight three drunks fought at the Reef Gateway, with one taken to hospital with a broken nose. A drunk damaged a taxi at 1 a.m. A visiting couple from Rockhampton were assaulted in a lane, with the male taken to hospital with a fractured jaw. At 2:30 a.m. another person with a broken nose was taken to hospital from Mama Africa nightclub. A man with a knife fled a gaming room at Magnums. Police had to use capsicum spray on a man, and then two others started a brawl in front of police at 2:30 a.m. Two people fighting at 5:30 a.m. in Coconut Grove, with one left unconscious in the street and taken to hospital. Both the Whitsunday Guardian and The Whitsunday Times did report Night of violence in Airlie this time.
A local security firm manager said violence had been getting worse over the past five years. Whitsunday Health Service saw 205 cases of violence associated with alcohol and drug abuse in 2005, 305 in 2006 and 402 in 2007. I wonder what the total will be for 2008?
In contrast, the Whitsunday Times reported that seven people they surveyed were not worried about problems in Airlie Beach. A few weeks later they were reporting drink driving was a concern, and that two more people were assulted in Airlie Beach. Good to have a happy tourist newspaper in town. Have a nice day.
On the January 2009 Australia Day long weekend, police report dreadful drunken violence by groups of young men outside Magnums and nightclubs. If the men had not outnumbered police, more arrests would have been made. The window at McDonalds was once again broken. McDonalds owner Mike Muller said broken windows cost him $500 to $1000 every second month. What happened to responsible service of alcohol?
A 32 year old Airlie Beach man was charged with stabbing another man at a residence in Golden Orchid Drive on Monday 5 May 2009. This knife attack happened around 7:30 p.m.
Three licensed venues in Airlie Beach were fined during the 2008 Schoolies week for serving alcohol to underage drinkers. The Schoolies were fined $450 and $900. The bar manager and licensee were fined $6000 each. Bar staff do know about these heavy fines. Surveillance recordings from a venue were requisitioned by police, but not provided. The matter will go to court.
Where the Rainforest meets the Sea, until the developers arrived, and the golden sand comes in dump trucks.