Saturday, March 10, 2012

Casino for Whitsunday

Casino for Whitsunday


Would gamble pay off?


Over the last year, Asian financiers most notably from China but interestingly Vietnam have considered investments in Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday region. Major casino player James Packer has had his eye and at times his yacht on Hamilton Island.

The Australian economy benefits enormously from the proximity of growing Asia Pacific markets and none is bigger than China.

In a few short years, there have been massive benefits to Australia from Chinese tourism; up to AU$9billion per year by 2020 predicts Tourism Australia.

Casino development is a competitive market in Australia with billionaire James Packer and a host of other big names vying to spend $6 billion on the new Barangaroo development in NSW. Packer has a 46 per cent share of Crown Casinos and said this week "I am not prepared to dilute my shareholding" in reference to the control battle for Echo Entertainments Group that operates four hotel and casino complexes, The Star in Sydney, Jupiters Hotel & Casino on the Gold Coast, Treasury Casino & Hotel in Brisbane and Jupiters Townsville.

The bad news for Whitsunday is that the major lure for Chinese tourists is not the Great Barrier Reef and sailing the Whitsunday Islands.

The drawcard is more Australia's exceptional range of excellent casinos and all the luxuries that come with them such as Melbourne's Crown Casino and Star City Casino in Sydney.

No surprise, then, that rumours have been circulating for a while about a proposed casino development on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and recently the Whitsunday Coast.

As far back as August, Clive Palmer, owner of the Hyatt Coolum, revealed that he was considering a major redevelopment of the Hyatt site intending to create a resort that would attract a share of the International tourists that come to Australia every year to enjoy casino resorts.

Indeed, Hyatt Regency Coolum marketing director Pip Close conceded a casino would be ... "an asset to the region."

If Clive Palmer wants to fly Chinese tourists into the Sunshine Coast directly, if the Chinese want to gamble, what do you want to do to attract Chinese tourists? Build a casino that will attract more tourists.

With a few notable exceptions like Nevada, Caribbean and specific locales in Europe, casino development is a relatively recent phenomenon.

License money from a casino on the Whitsunday Coast should be invested in projects designed to draw tourists and other business to the region.

Time and money wasted on the now closed Laguna Quays 'big airport' concept, may have been extended Whitsunday Coast Airport to take direct international charter flights.

Hamilton Island would benefit from a boutique casino that would fit in with the new high standard accommodation and facilities on the island.

The biggest gamble is on greedy governments, state and federal, that have consistently underfunded the management of the Great Barrier Reef leading to it becoming a super ship highway and convenient dumping ground for the spoils of development.


Historic changes to CB


The Australian Communications and Media Authority (AMCA) have announced amendments to the Citizen Band Service.

UHF CB Australia Director, Ray Oaff said, "The developments include more channels available to benefit the over one million UHF users in Australia each day."

Additional channels are available by reducing their width to 12.5 kHz, relaxation of the telemetry and telecommand duty cycle, and allowing transmission of station identification and position information. A new equipment standard, (AS/NZA 4365:2010) released in January, defines a new 80 channel standard.


Court to Costa Quid


This week in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, Italian Judge Valeria Montesarchio will ask court appointed experts to examine the "black box," containing digital recordings of the grounding and sinking of the Costa Concordia off Giglio Island on January 13. 

The cruise industry has changed the rules on safety drills. Before the Costa Concordia tragedy, drills were required to be held within 24 hours of passengers embarking.  The new rule requires that safety drills and instruction are to be completed prior to the ship leaving port. On the Costa Concordia up to 700 passengers had embarked in Civitavecchia, the nearest port to Rome. The safety drill was scheduled for 5PM the day after the ship ran aground and sank.

Also last week, Italy banned cruise ships from sailing within 2 miles of coastlines in "environmentally sensitive" areas, ending the tradition of sailing cruise ships close to shore in what is the referred to as the inchino or bow.


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Queen Mary knights our Ambassadors

Queen Mary knights our Ambassadors


The visit of the majestic ocean liner Queen Mary at Airlie Beach was as much appreciated by its passengers as by local business happy for an influx of custom.

Indeed, four ships in five days surely makes a bit of a record and certainly kept our Volunteer meet and greet Ambassadors busy; and they have been noticed.

Cairns resident Linda Tuck enjoyed the Airlie experience so much she wrote a letter to the Cairns Post telling "Airlie Beach was buzzing and put on special markets; Cairns was dull, lifeless and empty shops, and those that weren't open didn't bother to open. I thought our city (Cairns) was looking very shabby."

"In Cairns, we walked out into the middle of Yorkeys Knob Boating Club carpark, with no one to give out a map or direct us to the bus."

"Airlie Beach greeted us with volunteers handing out brochures, maps and were on hand to answer questions, then directed to a bus to take us to the town."

A job well done!


Arise Knights!


Therefore, and to wit, by the powers vested in relevant laws, the customs and et cetera, ad nauseam, terra dactyl crocodilus, Antipodes invincabullus, We hereby Knight the Cruise Ship Volunteer Ambassadors of Airlie Beach.

Arise, Knights of the Main Street!


Big prawn


A recent expedition to one of the deepest places on Earth has discovered one of the most enigmatic creatures in the deep sea: the 'supergiant' amphipod.

Similar to prawns and shrimps, amphipods are a type of crustacean particularly common in the deep sea, and found in greater numbers the deeper you look. Typically, deep-sea amphipods are two to three centimetres long with the exception of the slightly larger 'giant' amphipod found in Antarctica. The supergiants dwarf the Antarctic giant.

Discovered in the Kermadec Trench, north of New Zealand, the specimens of the supergiant represent both the biggest specimen ever caught (28 centimetres long) and the deepest found (7,000 metres deep).

"For such a large and conspicuous animal to go unnoticed for so long is just testament to how little we know about life in New Zealand's most deep and unique habitat," said Dr Ashley Rowden from NIWA.


Elf and safety for Queen


Brit health and safety executives have banned the Waka, an ocean going Maori war canoe from the Queen's diamond jubilee river pageant on the Thames on June 3.

The craft once used to ferry warriors across oceans and made by carving out a tree trunk, "failed stringent tests for safety, fitness for purpose, experience and design" say Elf officials and is unable to join the pageant that runs for 12km, give or take on the Thames.

Original plans saw the Queen travel down the Thames upon Gloriana, the Royal Rowbarge, but security and health and safety issues proved too complex.

If any Royal Navy ships are seaworthy by June, they may also take part.

Apparently, the Queen was particularly insistent that no public money be used for the £10million event to mark her 60 years on the throne, nor does she want any full-scale public appeal for funds.


Starfish safety


At dawn, an elderly man walking along a beach noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and tossing them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing.

"The starfish will die if they are still on the beach when the sun roasts them with its mid-morning heat," said the youth.

"But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish," countered the man. "How can your effort make any difference?"

The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it safely in the waves.

"It makes a difference to this one," he said.


Proserpine River entrance


Mariners are advised that the lighted starboard lateral mark No.1 beacon which marks the entrance into the Proserpine River has been destroyed. A lighted special mark buoy Fl Y 3s has been temporarily established to mark the position of the destroyed beacon.

The lighted starboard lateral mark No.3 beacon, which also marks the entrance into the Proserpine River, has been destroyed. A lighted starboard lateral mark buoy Fl G 3s has been temporarily established to mark the position of the destroyed beacon.

Mariners should use caution when navigating in the vicinity as remnants of the destroyed structures remain. AUS charts 252 & 824


No joking


"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts," said actor, cowboy, newspaper columnist and political wit Will Rogers


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Boaties ramp up support

Boaties ramp up support


The community of Whitsunday boat owners and fishers are up in arms over the dire lack of action on boat ramps and facilities for locals or visitors.

If locals can't get their boat in the water why would anyone else want to come here?

"Go to Airlie Beach and enjoy no facilities, no parking, drink from a dribbling water tap and enjoy the sea view, from the shore. At great cost.

Kevin Collins is a long time fisher and boatie who feels like most others around the area; the region has perhaps 4,000 boats on trailers and government inaction means if less than five per cent want to use their valuable asset, the place is packed out.

This is backed up by boatie businessman Bob Spees who observed "Over the weekend I counted 160 boat trailers. People drove out of town because they couldn't get their boats in or park at Abel Point and it is just a normal time, not holidays," Mr Spees says.

What a disgrace. That reminds me, the cost of the boat and trailer to get to the non-existent facility. I will not mention the vehicle rego; I know that goes to the six-lane highway gridlock in South East Queensland.

The Department of Transport Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) website says, "Registration provides a means of identifying boats and the statistical information can be used by organizations to plan and design new boating facilities." How thoughtful, I thought.

However, life is too short to find what you want on their web site and what is there is old and last decade.

I did find that boat rego fees go up from a minimum of $87.45 for a 4.5-metre boat with up to six metre costing $172.65. Adds up to plenty of cash that is certainly not funding any facilities around here.

It's the same on the Boating and Fisheries web site where I could find about ferrets but not fees, as boaters also pay "$17.75 recreational use fee collected by Transport and Main Roads on behalf of Primary Industries and Fisheries for a range of functions to enhance recreational fisheries."

Yeah, you're right, also could not find what the 'recreational use fee' covers. Probably a joyride for some pollie.

Of course, you have to display rego numbers, you are only a number to them so make sure it is the right size or, you guessed it, be naughty and you will cop a fine.

VMR president Robin Salmon feels that the VMR ramp is very important from both a recreational and safety standpoint.

"It doesn't matter how much money you spend on Abel Point ramp as there's no parking. The VMR facility has parking and needs protection," Mr Salmon says.

The public meeting this week at VMR will be covered elsewhere in the Whitsunday Coast Guardian.


Elf & Safety strikes


We all want to be safe at sea, however some nonsensical consequences of Health & Safety regulations are not only stupid but also demeaning to those who live and work on the water.

Why are they stupid? Partly because the people onshore sailing a desk think they can pass some law or regulation and instantly no one will die or get rope burn.

Many of us try to move away from the stupid ones but like pollution and other bad smells, they follow us to tell us how to do it.

However, this is just one facet of a worldwide trend towards regulation and micro-management. Europe is suffering, too – and it is affecting the operation of tall ships and other historic vessels.

Some tall ships fly a black flag with a question mark on it, rather like a pirate flag. Here's why.

Back in 2000, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) issued recommendation No 1468, which asked European Community governments to: Support and encourage private bodies which preserve historic vessels and encourage the display of these vessels for the public.

Most seafaring nations reached consensus on the basic rules for the operation of traditional vessels,

Then they passed a 'modern' fire safety regulation for commercial ships that forbids the use of wood below decks, so any port that enforces this regulation will refuse access to almost every traditional ship.


For a special reader


"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators." P. J. O'Rourke


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan