Wednesday 23 January 2008

Unhappy Birthday looms

In just over 70 days time, on March 30th 2008, one of our iconic and most historic clubs in Cairns will turn 100 years old.

Here's the event here, that is organised by the Cairns Heritage Group.

From its inception on 30th March 1908, the Aquatic Club has played an integral and vital role in the cultural and personal history of Far North Queensland and a vital role in its defence during World War II.

Over three million people have attended and danced at the Aquatic on the only genuine Black Bean sprung dance floor in Australia.

There'll be no birthday cake from the Mayor of Cairns, Kevin Byrne. He wants to see the bulldozes rip this Australian historical building down. He wants to see a series on high-rises there on that plot of land, if he has his way.

The public of Cairns are not invited nor permitted to have a say on what happens down on this site, nor our waterfront. It appears that we, the public, cannot have a say about how our precious waterfront is used.

The State Government have repeatedly failed to champion the cause to retain the building and the significance of the site, it's connection with the community and the last 100 years of association with the water and the local music fraternity.

I've written about this sad saga previously, and the potential for the building upgrade.

But there is still hope.

CairnsBlog is pleased to release a significant document on this ongoing battle today.

On the 12th May 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Port Authority and the Cairns Aquatic Club was agreed to be signed under duress.

The Cairns Port Authority don't want you to see this.

This monumental decision was recorded with much pain in the Committee's Minutes of CYC Meeting of 11th May 2004:
  • The CPA have moved that we sign the Memorandum. The Committee is disappointed with the outcome. We have no option but to sign the Memorandum and see what happens. If we don’t sign we have nowhere to go.

    The Committee discussed some options once we are at Precinct 12. We could take licence of the premises and set up the premises ourselves and run it or put someone in the premises to get it operational, then in the future take over.

The motion was put and moved by Des Vizzard. It was seconded by Gary Dunne, that they sign the Memorandum. They noted that 7.10 of the Constitution empowers the Committee to make the decision.

Present at the meeting on that fateful evening were Dave Kelly, Des Vizzard, Wayne Pitcher, Will Stewart, Gary Dunne, Troy Walker, Sandra Heywood and Barb Dymott.

Maybe now believe the Cairns Yacht Club was blackmailed.

The Port Authority commits to the pittance of $40,00 to assist the club.

Reported in yesterday's Cairns Post, is a photograph of heavy machinery clearing soil deposits surrounding the historic Yacht Club. The article says that a "construction of a new clubhouse, near The Pier, will be completed by May."

However this also needs explanation.

The "new clubhouse" is nothing of a sort. It will be a shared facility that the Yacht Club will have access to with other groups.

There will be no storage or place for memorabilia. The attached food services like a shop and a restaurant will be separate commercial arrangements and managed by companies who tender for it to the Port Authority.

There will be no place for the regular music evenings that have made the existing venue famous for the last 85 years.

See the Cairns Post didn't deliberately mislead you. They either didn't ask the right questions or they were mislead by the Port Authority PR spin doctors. And maybe the photograph could have been dropped in the Post article for 200 more words to explain what is really going on.

In some disgusting irony, as a further slap in the face to all those who are fighting to protect and retain the Yacht Club building, and other old buildings around our city, including John McKenzine of Radio 846AM, on the same page of the Cairns Post, there is a story about the Council City Council asking for input into our Heritage buildings.

A series of meetings are being held around town now. You should turn up, armed with your megaphone and list of demands. You'll need to raise your voice there because they are very hard of hearing.

The Council says that they along with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cultural Heritage Branch are commissioning a study to identify and assess the city’s built cultural heritage. "The Cairns Heritage Study will comprehensively review places with local and state heritage values, and give greater certainty about the management of heritage places."

This is probably the first time that this Byrne-led Council have formally conducted such a community engagement.

Here's the dates and times...
~January 23, 5.30pm - 7pm – Cairns and District Senior Citizens Hall;
~January 30, 6.30pm - 8pm – Yorkeys Knob Community Centre;
~February 5, 6.30pm - 8pm – Serbian Cultural Information Centre (Edge Hill);
~February 11, 5.30pm - 7pm – Cairns City Council’s Civic Reception Rooms.

But they won't mean anything. Call me cynical, but it's basically a series of patsy community meetings.

And why do you think these meetings are being undertaken?

Guess what? There's an election coming up in under two months time, and Byrne's mob would like to be seen that they communicate and talk to the residents for their views.

What a filthy dirty rotten insult to us all. History speaks louder than words.

After 8 years of ignoring the Cairns community and steam rolling development approvals through to suit big fact rich builders and construction firms, in return for favours for election donations, they have the audacity to run these meetings and think we are gullible enough to believe they want our opinion!

Okay, some of us will go along. And we'll tell you, again, we want to retain the Cairns Aquatic Club House. We'll shout it. Will you listen? Will you support us? Or have you and your mates already got plans in your bottom drawer for the bit of valuable dirt?

You are welcome to complete the Heritage Study online survey. You can also contact Debbie Wellington at Council on 4044 3521, or the EPA.

Did you know that in New South Wales, they are about to spend $60 million restoring the Sydney Town Hall? It was built in 1869, only 26 years before Cairns' historic Aquatic Club House, in 1895. To see details, click here...

The Sydney Town Hall is built of stone, the Cairns Aquatic is built of Timber and corrugated Iron. The Sydney Town Hall has not been tested by violent tropical cyclones. The Aquatic Club House has...

  • 28 January, 1906. Cairns devastated. The Aquatic survived
  • 28 January, 1910. Heavy seas and tremendous gales at Cairns. The Aquatic Club survived
  • 16 March, 1911. Port Douglas left with only 7 out of 57 houses standing. Mossman and Cairns also hit. The Aquatic Club survived
  • 7 April, 1912. Cairns and Innisfail have damage to structures with 40% of banana and sugar crops lost. The Aquatic Club survived
  • 31 January, 1913. Cyclone crosses near Cairns. Damage and flooding also to Innisfail. 4 lives lost. The Aquatic Club survived
  • 3 February, 1920. Cyclone crosses north of Cairns. Every house at Mt Molloy and Kuranda unroofed or destroyed. Widespread flooding and enormous cattle losses inland. The Aquatic Club was severely damaged but Cairns people (6,000 residents at the time) rebuilt their beloved Aquatic Club House and re-opened on 27th July, 6 months later.
    The Aquatic survived
  • 9 February, 1927. Tropical cyclone hits north of Cairns. Structural damage. The Aquatic Club survived
  • 22 January, 1934. Cairns suffers damage and flooding. The Aquatic survived
  • 2 March, 1946. Cairns to Townsville had damage with some loss of life. The Aquatic survived
  • 7 January, 1948. Heavy floods between Cooktown and Cardwell as cyclone crosses Cape York. The Aquatic survived
  • 6 March, 1956. CYCLONE AGNES. Passed over Townsville. Widespread damage from Cairns to Mackay. Recorded wind gusts to 79 knots. The Aquatic survived
  • 10 March, 1977. CYCLONE OTTO. Crossed at Cape Tribulation and again at Bowen. Aggravated flood damage in Cairns The Aquatic survived
  • 31 January, 1977. CYCLONE KEITH. Hit east of Cairns and the crossed again at Cape Cleveland near Townsville. Extensive crop damage. The Aquatic survived
  • 2 January, 1979. CYCLONE PETER. Record rainfall south of Cairns (1140mm in 24 hours) caused serious flooding estimated at $10 million (at 1979 value). 2 deaths. The Aquatic survived
  • 1 February, 1986. CYCLONE WINIFRED. Crossed near Innisfail with an eye diameter of 41km. A wind gust was calculated at 145 knots. Houses damaged. Cost was $130 million (at 1986 value). 3 deaths.The Aquatic survived
  • 22-25 December, 1990. CYCLONE JOY. Travelled past Cairns to weaken in intensity crossing at Townsville. 97 knot wind gusts recorded. Structural damage south of Cairns. Induced tornado hit Mackay damaging buildings and causing floods. 6 lives lost. Cost $62 million (1990 value). The Aquatic survived
  • 22 March, 1997. CYCLONE JUSTIN II. Crossed near Cairns. Wind damage to buildings from the Atherton Tablelands to Townsville. Considerable flooding and evacuations. Cost almost $200 million. The Aquatic survived
  • 27 February, 2000. CYCLONE STEVE. The cyclone passed the coast at the northern beaches of Cairns causing structural damage and flooding. Wind gusts up to 85 knots were recorded and the peak wave measurement was 5 metres at Cairns Wave Recording Station. Prominent buildings were unroofed. Mareeba reached a record flood level of 12.4 metres and evacuations were conducted.The Aquatic survived
  • 19 - 24 March 2004. Cyclone GRACE Flooding between Cairns and Cooktown. 372mm of rainfall in 24 hours. Wind speeds up to 54 knots were recorded. Estimated US$20M damage to Cairns region. The Aquatic survived
Cyclones have not been able to destroy it but the State Government will.

The Aquatic Club House is under threat from the Queensland State Government, with no support from the current Cairns Mayor, who is by deed and oath of office meant to "represent" the residents and community of Cairns.

You can write to the shareholders of the Cairns Port Authority:

Ask them to "Remove the Certificate of Immunity from the Aquatic Club House and not deny the people of the North Queensland the right to justly nominate the building on its Historical Site for entry into the Queensland Heritage Register.

Even if you've never visited the Club, we need to teach these people a lesson that we care about our past and we care about our future. We love our memories and there is room for them in the new modern vibrant Cairns.

Even people polled last weekend believe this Council is seriously inept in preserving any history we have.

Even Gavin King is allowed to live here. And he's not that old.


Anonymous said...

Was there also a report done for CPA by KPMG which may not have been as 'independent' as pretended in this cliquey town, or is this not public? I think the report was done under the direction of Dr Chris White (then KPMG)who is understood to also be an identity at the rival Cruising Yacht Squadron?

Anonymous said...

What has local member Desley Boyle done on this?

Anonymous said...

Michael ... your comment ...

"There'll be no birthday cake from the Mayor of Cairns, Kevin Byrne. He wants to see the bulldozes rip this Australian historical building down. He wants to see a series on high-rises there on that plot of land, if he has his way ..."
This comment is total bullshit as I have told you before and I'll tell you again ...

Council have no say in the sale of this land.
Council are not consulted and even if we were, State Government would say, "why are your local members, (Boyle, Pitt, Wettenhall, O'Brien and ex member Clarke), not calling for its retention?
Eh eh ???

Anonymous said...

In the Cosmos it is said that Atoms can be a million miles apart. What is in between them is classed as Desley Boyle activity.

Anonymous said...

Oh Michael ... you know your comment's not correct ...

"There'll be no birthday cake from the Mayor of Cairns, Kevin Byrne. He wants to see the bulldozes rip this Australian historical building down. He wants to see a series on high-rises there on that plot of land, if he has his way."

You know Council have no say in how the State disposes of it's land.

What's the point objecting anyway when the State will respond along the lines of ... "State Government hasn't heard any objections from the people's representatives, Boyle, Pitt, Wettenhall, O'Brien and ex member Clark".

Did you know that Council grants the CYC $5000.00 per year to help with junior sailing?

And, that Council have not charged any rates on the club since 1992.

Just some "facts" to add to your fiction blog.

Anonymous said...

Well, factman, another fact for you, which you well know, is that Kevin Byrne, in replying to the issue of whether or not to save the Yacht Club, his exact words were 'The Cairns yacht Club has no cultural or historical significance whatsoever'. Don't try and bullshit us that the council cares about preserving Cairns history. Why don't you tell us who you really are? If you are so confident and proud of this council, you should have no problem revealing yourself. But no, that won't happen, because then mainstream media could 'quote' you on all you have said, as a spokesperson for council, maikng the currect council and Kevin Byrne look even more the fools than they already look.

Anonymous said...

Factman, for someone who seems to know everything, you are very naïve.

The Mayor, to wit, Kevin Byrne has a lot of pull when it comes to what happens in the City of Cairns.

Trouble is, he has Labor cringe. Cairns has missed out on millions of dollars of State Government benefits and funding because Kevin is a died in the wool Conservative and wouldn’t stoop to talk to Desley Boyle or any of the other Labor reps.

I know because I have been personally affected by his intransigence.. Secondly, the Cairns International Airport would be a gravel airstrip without the ratepayers of this City who paid for land and took responsibility of it till the Labor Government stole it from us without compensation.

Thirdly, the Mayor instigated a Star Chamber called Advance Cairns. It is a peak economic development group consisting of all the big money contributors to Kevin’s Electoral War Chest.

Advance Cairns has funded Kevin’s junkets to China. The original executive of AC consisted of Kevin Byrnes the Mayor or the City of Cairns whose Oath of Office says he must represent us…”Hah.” . Brad Geatches – was the CEO Cairns Port Authority – He has since resigned and gone to Perth. Bill Calderwood - CEO Tourism Tropical North Queensland - Resigned. David Maguire -CEO Advance Cairns- Resigned.

And of course our old mate Kevin Delacy who was the ex treasurer of The Queensland Government who over saw the demolition of such Heritage sites as the Cairns Railway, (Cairns Central), the Customs House and many others that have disappeared.

At the time they used their influence to OBJECT to the Heritage Listing of the Aquatic Club House. The Chairman of Advance Cairns was Mr. Chapman whose company owns Harbour Lights. Guess how he managed to get that?

Why don’t you try and find out how much he paid for it considering it wasn’t put up for Public Auction.

There are two types of people in Cairns, the shaftors and the shaftees.

We are talking about Kevin Byrnes the mayor who used his influence to side with the Port Authority to shaft us. Now you are trying to tell us that he has no influence.

Yeah, Factman, that shadow that just passed flying over, was a sow with six piglets. When it suits the Council you use Kevin’s majority in a closed meeting to throw us to the wolves.

Roll on a change of Mayor I say, then we will request a complete audit of the matter over the last 15 years.

Rob Williams

Anonymous said...

Rob ... when you've finish blowing your trumpet down at the CYC tonight and at home reading this blog, let me say this ...

1. I agree wholeheartedly with most of your comments, especially the bit about that spiv, Keith De Lacy. What really annoys me is that this blog and some of it's adherents want to blame Kevin Bryne for the demise of the CYC. Instead sustained effort should be made to pressure the ones with real influence, aka Boyle and co. Obviously this has something to do with a mayoral election coming methinks. How hypocritical!

2. The decision to spilt the waterfront into "the peoples zone" and the "commercial zone" was made long, long before Kevin Bryne arrived on the scene. Probably Mick Borzi's time. That decision was one of many made as a consequence of CPA taking control from the old Cairns Harbour Board because of Commonwealth funding for the airport.

3. The spilt was divided at the corner where the esplanade starts. From there to the mangroves at Cairns North was, and always will be open space dedicated to the people of Cairns.

4. The land to the south on Trinity Inlet already had a number of commercial enterprises and this part of waterfront was deemed "commercial".

5. Unfortunately the CYC sat smack in the middle of this zone.

6. If the then committee of the CYC had had more commercial acumen instead of a "laid back and everything will work out attitude", then maybe some kinda deal could have been struck to keep the CYC operable with a commercial entity. Indeed, the Hilton Hotel before it was built, proposed taking the lease for the land off the CYC and in return would guarantee a space on the lower levels for the club to operate in perpetuity.
The CYC committee refused.

So get of Kev's back, he has smartened up the whole esplanade area with countless awards from around Australia and the world to prove it.

Anonymous said...

factman is correct in that the local State Members of Parliament, Pitt, Boyle etc seem to have abandoned the Yacht Club leaving Byrne with an open slather. If people are genuine about saving the building, then pressure has to be exerted on the local State members as well.

Anonymous said...

Factman,No doubt Minister for Everything Desley Boyle is as involved in ignoring her constituents wishes (70% Opinion Polls) in her desire to destroy the Aquatic Club building.

That just shows the locals resentment of both developer funded councils aka KB and bankrupt State Governments who do not give a stuff about Ratepayers/ Taxpayers concerns regarding our local environment.

This includes the sleazy mix "behind closed doors' of the likes of Advance Cairns, TTNQ, CPA and KB making decisions which exclude ratepayers input.

It is hardly a hypocritical comment to note that both sides of politics are indifferent or bent when it comes to developer funding.

Factman you would be aware That the "Ray Group" have acquired from the State Government waterfront leases around Dixon Inlet, Port Douglas. That's the mob who were caught out funding Substantially so called "Independant" councillors on the Gold Coast.

Is that about to happen for Port ? and will KB and his mates be seen walking hand in hand towards the sunset in a loving embrace, and once again bugger the local opinion regarding conservation values.

But back to the "Historic Aquatic Club".

The now named Cairns Yacht Club's financial performance over the last few years as well as some management decisions could well be described as below commercial club expectations and that would be putting it kindly, but the fact is at least a thousand carparks have disappeared in the Wharf St precinct due mainly to the Casino and Harborlights development, which has an impact on locals being able to support this club and its great history.

No doubt Factman you would probably consider the Casino a great family venue.

The club committe have signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" under duress with the CPA, but sadly through the media smokescreen talking about a six or is it seven million dollar new yacht club? members who were not consulted before its committee,s decision will find that the use of a small shared meeting room is to be the actual future of this once Historical club.

I wish the CYC well but doubt it will survive.

The Aquatic as an entertainment venue could continue perhaps under a Heritage board with some business acumen and could well develop into a venue not unlike Sydney,s "Basement" which attracts many forms of entertainment suitable for a more intimate atmosphere as well as dancing art shows meetings and the like, whilst still retaining a local use bar and restaurant.

When in Sydney time permitting accommodation at the Historic Rocks Area, a visit to the "Basement' and a few local Heritage Pubs makes for a worthwhile trip.

It's a pity Factman That yourself and KB just don't understand that Tourism which includes mingling with the locals and Heritage are actually a very profitable mix and a great holiday experience.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Bob the builder says that the factman would probably consider the Casino a "great family venue".

Wel no ... Bob the builder, not at all.
Let me explain ...

I resent the car park spaces that were lost when Keith De Lacy, that smelly Labour dog, sold a 99 year lease on the public's land for a gambling den called the "Casino".
Just as he leased Crown land for Cairns Central, Crown land for Oasis Resort, Crown land for the Pier, and, the land where the same Labour dogs will lease the space where the Cairns Yacht Club stands.

Get up Boyle !!
Get up Pitt !!
Get up Wethenhall !!
Get up O'Brien !!
Get up Anna Bligh !!

up 'em all ...

Can you imagine how the Val, or her team of beginners would handle this ?

Ask her ...

Anonymous said...

If you were at the Council Meeting on Thursday you would have heard Councillor Pezzutti rubbish the Iconic Places Plan.
In the Cairns Post the Mayor comments on if " a local authority has an effective and robust planning scheme, there would be no need for additional protection for so-called Iconic places.
I agree with him. The Cairns Plan is an effective and robust plan, however at every twist and turn it is overturned through a Material Change of Use application.

Cathy from Sydney said...

Just a comment from a tourist from Sydney. We travel to Cairns every year and love it. We especially enjoy going for a beer and a bite at the CYC. Where else in Cairns can you get a cold beer, decent feed, meet some locals, get a great view and for a decent price, in a building that carries so much history. Knock it down and rebuild - not a good choice if you want to keep real working class people coming to cairns as well. All you'll get are the yuppies coming in to pay over the odd prices for a beer and food with the view. If I wanted that I could stay in Sydney. It's a real pity the Queensland Govertment can't see the value in keeping some history in Cairns, Sydney has buildings with less history that are heritage listed. How sad to see the CYC get knocked down - a real shame. Shame, shame, shame.

Anonymous said...

I rarely take the side of the CairnsBlog-addicted so-called 'Factman', but this post by Captain Cairns struck me as an exercise in extreme chutzpah.

captain cairns said...

Well, factman... Why don't you tell us who you really are? If you are so confident and proud of this council, you should have no problem revealing yourself.

A case of the ghost calling the phantom white?

Anonymous said...

Nice one Sid. You have a point. But it doesn't matter who I am. I, unlike Factman, do not have any ties with council or anyone that is running for it. I am just a long-term resident who is very concerned for the future of my town with Byrne at the helm.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone want to know who Factman is?
I, for one, never want to know, EVER.
It would spoil the intrigue of this blog if I knew for certain who it is.
Psst..I personally think it's more than one person(perhaps 3?) because sometimes one is so mean than the other one is much nicer all in the one day. Which makes me think one is male and one is female, and than there is another one who has all the "facts" but is more devoid of personality than the other two.
Or maybe it the same person and they are just a wee bit schizo..whatever, you see the possibilites are endless.

Factman reminds me of that guy in X-files(remember Mulder, Scully,Government conspiracy, UFO's )..who you never quite knew who he was working for, he would just show up at the bizarrest times with info to help or sometimes try to kill them!! That is what factman looks like in my head, chain smoking, trenchcoat the works...
We have this love/hate thing with you Factman... please don't ever change even if the little voices tell you too.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Kazba on this one. I also think Factman is Factperson x 3. I would be disappointed knowing who they are as well. I'm not so interested in the foul mouthed one, but the Kev's Fan Club ones aren't too bad, even if they are a little "Liberal" with the "facts" sometimes.