Graphic showing location of 'Curlew Island'
Graphic showing location of 'Curlew Island'

Gold Coast’s newest island revealed

A BROADWATER sandbank which has become an island roosting spot for migratory birds and accidental major tourist attraction can be given land status as part of new laws protecting The Spit.

Gold Coast Shorebirds convener Bob Westerman has recommended the island, just one kilometre south of Wavebreak Island, be given appropriate zoning and protection.

Bonney MP Sam O'Connor with Gold Coast Shorebirds Group convener Bob Westerman on Curlew Island in the Broadwater on the Gold Coast.
Bonney MP Sam O'Connor with Gold Coast Shorebirds Group convener Bob Westerman on Curlew Island in the Broadwater on the Gold Coast.

He has been supported by numerous community groups including Save Our Broadwater, Federation Walk and Bonney MP Sam O'Connor, who had lobbied the Government for Curlew Island to be included in the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

In 2015, the Bulletin wrote that Mr Westerman had begun counts on the birds.

He had discovered a permanent colony of eastern curlews, bar-tailed godwits and whimbrels, and that these migratory species would leave in April for the Arctic and return in August after travelling 30,000km.

 

The location of Curlew Island just south of Wavebreak Island. Picture: Google Maps.
The location of Curlew Island just south of Wavebreak Island. Picture: Google Maps.

 

The eastern curlews left for northern Mongolia, the whimbrels to the conifer belt of Asia and the godwits to the Arctic Tundra and Alaska.

In his submission to a parliamentary committee reviewing The Spit masterplan legislation, he wrote: "Curlew Island is not official land and as such is denied all the protection and management practices which are normally associated with protected land.

Bob Westerman with the island he has asked to have renamed as Curlew Island in the background.
Bob Westerman with the island he has asked to have renamed as Curlew Island in the background.


"This means people are free to behave as they wish here without fear of prosecution and the current harassment of wildlife is very high. The unclear status of the island means no government authority has the right to manage it. The recommendation of The Spit Master Plan aims to correct this situation."

Judy Spence, a former long-serving government minister and Save Our Broadwater leader, said the community in the longer term was seeking stronger environmental protection around The Spit and the waterways.

"We applaud this legislation as a convenient first step in ensuring capital works commence," Ms Spence wrote in the group's submission.

Beach stone curlews are found at the Broadwater - from a book by photographers Peter Scholer and Gary Casey.
Beach stone curlews are found at the Broadwater - from a book by photographers Peter Scholer and Gary Casey.

"The inclusion of a map in the legislation is useful. This map should include Curlew Island as well."

Mr O'Connor who has visited Curlew Island with Mr Westerman, said the area should be included in the Marine Park after a review of the zoning later this year and the Minister designate the area as land.

"From what Bob has been telling me the Curlew population is about 60," Mr O'Connor said. "It has been relatively stable and if not increasing, which is a good thing.

Spit birds captured in a book by photographers Peter Scholer and Gary Casey. Pied Cormant with Snowflake Moray Eel.
Spit birds captured in a book by photographers Peter Scholer and Gary Casey. Pied Cormant with Snowflake Moray Eel.

"Simple things like not having dogs on the island is a good start. We need to be cautious of the tourist operators who go on there as well. You see the big tours go there, they pump yabbies. I think including it in the Master Plan legislation is not a bad option."