August 30, 2013
Despite a petition circulating requesting that the locks on the gate be removed, McCauley Weir Road at South East Nanango will remain blocked to public traffic … for the time being.
The unsealed road links Old Esk Road with McCauley Weir on Cooyar Creek, formerly part of Nanango’s water supply infrastructure.
A locked gate a short distance along the road currently blocks vehicles from proceeding any further.
A petition began circulating recently in the local community urging the South Burnett Regional Council to reopen the road so the public can use the weir for recreation.
However, Mayor Wayne Kratzmann says Council won’t be re-opening the road any time soon because it was too dangerous and there was no money in Council’s roads budget for the repairs (see box, at right).
The petition has angered local residents who live along the road.
Michael Duffell, who owns a 160 acre cattle property that is bisected by McCauley Weir Road, approached southburnett.com.au to complain that local residents hadn’t be consulted over the proposal.
He purchased his property seven years ago and said there was a locked gate across the road at that time.
He believes the road closure dates to the former Nanango Shire Council. In fact, he has possession of a hand-written “closed by order of the CEO” sign which he says Council erected many years ago “but won’t admit to it”.
Over the years he has had vandals cut the locks off the gate, presumably so they could go down to the weir to fish.
He says he has had “substantial” vandalism on his property, a gate stolen, and rubbish strewn around, including used condoms across the front of his cattle yards.
He said his neighbour had also seen syringes near the weir.
“If the vandalism occurs with the gate locked, what’s it going to be like with the gate open?” he said.
Currently there are interlinked padlocks on the gate which allow access by the two local residents (who share a lock), Ergon Energy (who have power infrastructure in the area) and Council. A fourth lock appeared recently which Mr Duffell believes may belong to Fisheries.
He says the road is too dangerous to re-open because it is steep and in a very poor condition.
He is also worried about collisions with his stock. He says he cannot fence the roadsides because of the topography and a Telstra landline zigzagging along the edge of the road. And he says his cattle have to be able to cross the road to access a watering point.
He has asked council to investigate who would be liable if there was an accident.
Mr Duffell is also concerned about deer hunters or “every idiot with a gun” trespassing on his property and adjoining properties, threatening the safety of his stock and his family.
“It will end in bloodshed,” he said.
Proponents of the proposal to remove the McCauley Weir Road gate say it is a beautiful area which the public is entitled to enjoy.
But this argument doesn’t sway Mr Duffell; he says the views can only be seen if people trespass on his property.
He believes the area would not attract families as Council would not be able to keep it clean and tidy or keep up the maintenance.
“There are two old wooden gates there; one has been broken for the seven years that I have been here,” he said.
And he says camping could never be allowed at the weir because the area is in the Wivenhoe Dam catchment and there is no infrastructure on site to deal with raw sewage. It would also be a fire hazard.
He says if the road is re-opened it would affect his ability to operate his property as a grazier.