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Good Samaritan fined $7500 after towing bogged vehicles

Doug Waters from Burrum Heads with the tractor he used to tow vehicles bogged in the national park.
Doug Waters from Burrum Heads with the tractor he used to tow vehicles bogged in the national park. Alistair Brightman

A GOOD Samaritan who says he has towed more than 200 bogged cars from roads in the Burrum Coast National Park in the past 20 years has been fined $7500 for damaging the park during the rescues.

Douglas George Waters, 71, appeared in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Monday charged with six counts of breaching a restriction on cultural and natural resources protected areas and one count of driving an unregistered tractor.

Magistrate Graeme Tatnell convicted Mr Waters on two counts of damaging the national park but dropped the five other charges.

He was fined $7500 - and he may be up for a further $15,000 payment because of a hole he dug while fixing a road.

Mr Waters has lived on a property in the heart of the Burrum Coast National Park for 25 years and, under the Queensland National Government in 1988, was given permission to maintain the isolated roads leading to his home.

The previous state Labor government cancelled that permission.

Mr Waters said outside court that the roads had since deteriorated and people could easily become stuck.

He told the Chronicle outside court he was dumbfounded by the lack of common sense.

"At the moment I can't tow anyone out," he said.

"If you are unlucky enough to be bogged and it's a Friday afternoon or out of normal hours DERM (now Environment and Heritage Protection) has no after-hours number to help which could result in your situation becoming life-threatening."

A Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing representative said Mr Waters had been convicted of contravening the Nature Conservation Act.

"Damaging a national park is a serious offence," the representative said.

"This illegal act resulted in five species of ground cover and 27 species of trees and shrubs being damaged or destroyed, including a Melaleuca cheelii (grey tea tree) which is a rare species."

Mr Waters dug a hole on national park land three years ago and used the soil to fill in the heavily damaged road.

Since then, floods had filled the hole with water, making it a good source for the Rural Fire Service, Mr Waters said.

He may be ordered to pay $15,000 to the department for digging the hole.

Mr Waters' home was the first one built in Burrum Heads and is shown on a map dated in 1888.

Topics:  burrum hervey bay magistrate hervey bay magistrates court national park



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