Maria Bertram, owner of Lady Marmalade, is starting a petition to bring tourists back to the marina.
Maria Bertram, owner of Lady Marmalade, is starting a petition to bring tourists back to the marina. Brendan Bufi

Marina businesses petition for return of ferries

IT'S been four years since the ferries to Fraser Island left the Hervey Bay Marina but local businesses are determined to bring them back.

Lady Marmalade Massage and Beauty owner Maria Bertram is taking a stand as she prepares a petition to get others on-board.

Ms Bertram said she had noticed the loss of a number of valuable visiting clients since the ferries moved to their new location at River Heads in 2010.

"She's said 'it was lovely meeting you but we won't be back here again'.

"I was shocked. She said 'we come to go to Fraser and going from River Heads just drags it out' so next time she said they will just be going through Rainbow Beach.

"That was when I thought, that's it, I've had enough.

"I've got someone drawing up the petition for me and then I will be taking it around."

Fraser Coast Opportunities general manager David Spear said complex leasing arrangements made it expensive for new businesses to set-up, which in turn slowed private investment in the Urangan Marina precinct.

He said private developments worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including a potential ferry to Fraser Island, were planned for the area - but owners were holding off until improved agreements were put in place.

"If we can find a way to remove the commercial barriers which these lease holding arrangements present, it should attract a range of activities which would justify the business operations of that kind of service," he said.

"Until those lease arrangements are dealt with, it's going to be difficult to create the level of activity to support those types of businesses.

"The good news is that it is a top priority for all the regional leaders and they are all pulling in the same direction on this one."

Kingfisher Bay managing director Gary Smith said the company made an economic decision to leave the harbour back in 2010 because it was simply not financially viable to operate.

"Four years on, nothing has changed," he said.

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