Lizard Island now on the air

FAR North Queensland’s Lizard Island, the Ribbon Reefs and the Cod Hole and areas of the Coral Sea are no longer subject to a marine radio “blackout”, thanks to an initiative by a group of game fishermen.

Just in time for the 27th Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic which starts this Saturday October 12, Cook’s Look, the 358m hill towering over the island now hides an almost invisible VHF radio repeater station, solar-powered with a range radius of around 200 kms.

The new repeater station was paid for by the Cooktown Coast Guard and Lizard Island Game Fishing Club life member Peter Teakle, who donated substantial funds to cover the costs of the installation.

Achieving the various governmental approvals for the installation was something of a struggle, however, game boat skipper and Cairns Professional Game Fishing Association President, Daniel McCarthy, managed to establish a successful working relationship with Queensland National Parks to enlist their help in seeking approval for the station.

McCarthy thanks National parks for their assistance and congratulates them for having the foresight to see the huge benefits to the maritime community and to further enhance environmental protection in the magnificent region of the Great Barrier Reef.

“There were reams of red and green tape that had to be unravelled”, said McCarthy.

“The Environmental Protection Authority naturally wanted to preserve the island’s wilderness assets”.

Understandably National Parks were worried that the pristine walking trail to the top of Cooks Look might somehow be compromised but are now satisfied the modernity of a solar powered radio transmitter – that has been discreetly placed out of the sight of hikers.

Installed by helicopter, the radio repeater station itself is the size of a suitcase, the photo-voltaic solar panel and the entire installation is virtually invisible, thus preserving the naturally beautiful environment of Lizard Island.

“Land lovers may not recognize the urgent need for this station: close to Lizard are the Turtle and Howick groups of islands, both of which have very narrow shipping routes through them and consequently dangerous navigation conditions when combined with bad weather, Rough seas, the occasional cyclone, treacherous tidal and current conditions are among the hazards encountered by sea-goers in the area – incidents, accidents, even prospective shipping disasters necessitated substantial improvement to marine radio communication across the whole area,” said McCarthy.

“Before the radio-repeater was installed, the ‘black spot’ meant virtually no radio reception over a vast area, leaving dozens of vessels ‘in the dark’ on any given day. The black spot shadow caused countless communication hardships to all marine users in the area including commercial and recreational fishing vessels, tourism dive & charter boats, government patrol and research vessels, merchant shipping, coastal freighters and barges and travelling yachts”.

Daniel McCarthy noted that, in addition to the Lizard Island Resort and Bob Lowe President of the Lizard Island Game Fishing Club, other sponsors tipped in generous support, including Century Batteries and Cairns Battery World, Sky Safari helicopters, David Cantarella the electrician, Cooktown Coast Guard and the Cairns Professional Game Fishing Association.


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