A cabin topples off a cliff at Great Keppel Island's Putney Beach.
Photo Contributed
A cabin topples off a cliff at Great Keppel Island's Putney Beach. Photo Contributed Contributed Photo ROK

UPDATE: Crews ordered to scour for turtle nests before work

UPDATE TUESDAY 11AM: THE Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has weighed in on concerns turtle nests on Fisherman's Beach will be destroyed if vital anti-erosion works go ahead on Great Keppel Island this week. 

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said that turtle nesting on Fisherman's Beach was incidental only, and is not a rookery like Peak Island to the distant south.

DEHP said the marine park permits issued as part of these works will require inspection each day prior to work commencement for turtle nests.

INITIAL: NO TURTLES or turtle nests will be harmed in the making of a vital revetment wall on Great Keppel Island.

Over the weekend, claims circulated on social media that 300m of sand dunes, along with countless turtle eggs, would be destroyed this week as anti-erosion works on Putney Beach begin.

But GKI Hideaway group manager Kelly Harris wants to assure the community that's certainly not the case.


Mr Harris said while work was expected to start on the $1million-plus project to protect Putney Beach from further erosion on Thursday, all of the approvals needed had been obtained and work would cease should turtle eggs be discovered.

"These works have been required since back in 2014 but nothing has been done so far because approvals haven't been met in time," Mr Harris said.

"We're just getting to the stage where all the approvals have been met and the works can commence and we are hoping for that to happen on Thursday.

"There's a revetment wall being constructed of Elcorock bags which are 21m long and 6m wide and they are filled with sand and laid back and backfilled.

"There is some sand gathering from Fisherman's Beach but not as far up as the turtle nests.

"If there was to be a turtle nest or something in the sand gathering area then all works would cease until we ask the relevant experts and authorities what to do. Which, from what I've been informed is that we'd have to either relocate them or stop work.

"We're not going to hurt any wildlife. If we come across a turtle nest there's not just going to be an excavator go over the top of it.

"We've had a lot to do with Marine Parks and they have informed us it would be very unlikely to come across turtle nests in the area we are working on."

READ IT HERE: No funding forthcoming for Great Keppel Island storm damage

In February 2014, cabins were washed out to sea after a large storm surge caused by Cyclone Dylan and if the revetment wall works don't go ahead this week, Mr Harris said the rest of the Hideaway faced the same fate.

"If this doesn't go ahead the bar area and building will disappear. It's that's simple," he said.

"The ongoing protection works are just heartbreaking. The guys get down there with the machinery and push sand up around the supports and the next high-tide it just disappears.

"That is necessary for the moment but the benefit of pushing that sand up against the supports is really only to assist against a high tide, not a storm surge.

"With a storm surge, it would be completely undermined and just fall in the water along with all the cabins along the front.

"I'm no engineer but the experts tell us this is a long term fix. Livingstone Shire Council commissioned the plans to be done back in 2015 and a company called ICM had a lot to do with that.

"They have a great reputation for coastal engineering and these are the plans that they have come up with. It has taken since 2015 to get it all approved."

Work begins on Thursday and ceases on December 23 before recommencing on January 14 for around a month.

GKI Hideaway will host a Christmas Lunch for anyone who wishes to visit on the day.

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