Landslides, landslip, mudslides. Is Airlie Beach another Threadbo disaster area?
Landslides, landslip and mudslides were common in Airlie Beach in the 2008 rainy season. Are these a prelude to a Threadbo style disaster as some Whitsunday resort collapses down a steep hillside? Most hillside resorts in Airlie Beach are constructed on steep slopes. But are they too steep? Who knows. However someone in Queensland state or Whitsunday local government should be looking at this problem.
Airlie Beach landslides provoked the Mackay Conservation Group to write to the Minister, asking whether the State Planning Policy on landslides has been breached by developers. The failure of State Planning Policy (Landslides) seems obvious. It states no building should occur above a fifteen percent slope.
This photograph of Golden Orchid Drive, in the heart of Airlie Beach, clearly shows that even this long established road exceeds the fifteen percent slope. Golden Orchid Drive is so steep in places that trucks and buses have often been observed getting stuck attempting to turn around the corner at the top.
New developments around Airlie Beach are even steeper, and often have even narrower roads. I am not at all convinced that garbage or fire services can negotiate roads in some new developments.
A small landslide from new developments above Waterson Way, Airlie Beach blocked the development road a hundred metres outside the main Airlie Beach shopping area during the rainy season. Council workers were quickly on hand to block off the alternate road past Airlie Beach.
A landslide involving an 80 cm boulder crushed a hire car in Shingley Drive near Abel Point Marina in May 2008. Billabong Car Rentals say the car will not be covered for landslide damage, leaving a towing bill to Cairns, and repair costs for South Australian student Eleanor Dormontt, the unfortunate tourist who hired the Hyundai Getz. Billabong Car Rentals are seeking to recover damages for the landslide from Whitsunday Regional Council. Council are now reported to have put warning notices in the area.
A landslide at Shutehaven in February 2008 closed residential access with a 50 metre stretch of road threatened. Half the Whitsunday Drive was still closed nearly six months later. Red lights were installed by council, but were thrown down the hillside by impatient drivers, who also ignore red lights. Council had to use a crane to recover the lights. The half road is considered unsafe for vehicles over two tonnes. As a result, there is no garbage service to residents past the landslide. They have to bring their rubbish past the damaged section of road. The school bus is also unable to use the road.
Preliminary works on opening the road commenced in September 2008, and are expected to be complete by December 2008, if the rainy season does not disrupt work.
A 25 tonne concrete pumping truck was left balanced on a hillside at Horizons Way when a dirt road collapsed under it on Monday 11 August 2008. Luckily the driver was able to scramble out uninjured, reports the Whitsunday Times. He used a remote control for the truck's boom to prevent it sliding further onto houses below it. A specialist tow truck team from the Sunshine Coast took five hours to remove the truck. Spokesman Jim Houlihan from Clayton's Towing Service said it was one of the most difficult recoveries he had attempted.
A thirty metre wide mudslide at Hydeaway Bay left a metre of sand and mud under some homes after heavy rain on 29 March 2011. Rain over 300mm was recorded over the previous week. Proserpine had nearly 600mm. Around ten households had to evacuated for a week. This is near an area affected by landslides in 1991, but on which building was permitted by council.
Where the Rainforest meets the Sea, until the developers arrived, and the golden sand comes in dump trucks.