‘Jail before whale’: Island protest threatens to erupt
Traditional owners fighting against the construction of a controversial whale centre on Stradbroke Island plan to be arrested as part of a last-ditch attempt to stop the project starting this week.
Dozens of people have pitched tents at the Point Lookout site in protest of the development which has divided the island community.
The project is being led by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, which says the centre will be a "landmark tourism attraction" for the island.
Its location, near the northern entry of Point Lookout's Gorge Walk, has created widespread opposition from people who say it should be located elsewhere.
Quandamooka woman Allison Myers, 46, said the sit-in protest was the "only option we have left" to stop the development.
She said the island's indigenous and non-indigenous people stood in solidarity against the project's location and what she said was a lack of consultation.
"If the diggers roll in we're prepared to sit and wait," Ms Myers said.
"We'll lock ourselves to fences or machinery if we have to. We'll be arrested."
The showdown could be the climax of a three-year battle against the project, which was due to start in mid-2020 but was delayed.
Work is expected to start this week and take about seven months, however the gorge walk will remain open.
Straddie Adventures owner and Quandamooka man Mark Jones said the skeleton of the whale, which washed ashore during Native Title discussions in 2011, should not be displayed on the island.
"Many Quandamooka elders promoted a belief the whale beaching was a positive omen," he said.
"It was an atrocious death … painful and in agony."
A QYAC spokeswoman said the organisation "acknowledges and respects the right for Quandamooka people to sit in at the site", but did not respond to questions about whether the project will be reviewed.
It will be the only complete humpback whale skeleton on public display in the southern hemisphere and also feature a hydrophone system.
The battle on North Stradbroke Island comes after reports several QYAC vehicles have been involved in crashes on nearby Moreton Island.
QYAC rangers, who manage the sand island in conjunction with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, are understood to have been involved in several crashes.
In the latest incident a ranger's vehicle - thought to be worth almost $100,000 - is understood to have crashed on the beach, rolling onto its side before being swamped by the rising tide.
A QYAC spokeswoman said there was no major damage to the vehicle or injury to rangers.
Originally published as 'Jail before whale': Straddie protest threatens to erupt