A Weipa grazier has contradicted claims by Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch that the Stones Crossing road , east of the township is open to the public.
The former owner and now lessee of Bertie Haugh Station, John Witherspoon said the road to Stones Crossing had never been gazetted as a public road and had been closed by another owner, Phil Bray since the mid-90’s.
Opening a ‘ring road’ for tourists through Stones Crossing and Bertie Haugh would create problems for both Australia Zoo and Mr Witherspoon who occupies the grazing lease.
“While Mr Entsch says the Irwin family is selfish, he should get his facts right before he says anything about Australia Zoo and its world class research programs into estuarine crocodiles,” Mr Witherspoon said.
“Locals have been using the road for access to the ‘killing fields’ north of the Ducie River, but we are left to clean up afterwards especially disposable baby nappies strewn about the place.
“They take motor bikes and four wheel drives there and generally go for broke which is ok but we can’t be expected to get them out of trouble when they get stuck in boggy gullies or washed down the Wenlock River because they underestimated the fast flowing crossing or get stuck there by high tides.
“Rubbish such as empty beer cans and bottles are not welcome and it is illegal to shoot cattle for a killer or to start bushfires.
He said locals and tourists were jeopardising their lives when driving through the Wenlock River crossing because of its depth, fast flowing water and large holes in the bottom of the river bed.
“And of course the large crocodile population,” he stressed.
Resident manager of Australia Zoo Barry Lyon concurred with Mr Witherspoon confirming the dangerous river crossing was accessible for only four months of the dry season.
“It is a dangerous crossing and only two of us are allowed by the company to use it,” Mr Lyon said.
“We have the biggest crocodile research program in the world going on and we are tracking 139 different crocs to investigate their habits particularly their ability to self-heal after getting massive wounds from other animals.
“The possibility of applying this natural healing method to humans will boost medical science, like the research of a group of scientists who come here to collect plants for medical cures such as Parkinsons disease.”
“We have acoustic-tagged bull sharks, barramundi, swordfish and spear toothed sharks in the Wenlock which has the most diverse varieties of freshwater fish in Australia.”
The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve has found more than 100 varieties of birds and conducts regular school excursions boasting its own ranger program.
Mr Lyon said it was a unique property supporting major research programs yet has cattle grazing for fire management and economic utilisation of the area.
Mr Witherspoon believes there is a much better ‘ring route’ through Billys Lagoon Station along an existing track to Moreton Telegraph Station.
“This road is much less dangerous than Stones Crossing and would give the Traditional Owners potential for some tourist dollars,” he said.