Cathie Graham
Cathie Graham

Mixed feelings at harbour

DISILLUSION mixed with optimism at Hervey Bay's harbour terminal yesterday in the wake of a government decision this week to shelve plans for a massive development of the marina.

On the plus side the owners of Cathie Maree's fashion boutique and Café Balaena were gazing very much on the bright side of business life.

On the other side of that coin, Gay Ignatenko, who runs the Banana Bender fashion chain in Hervey Bay, was ruing this Saturday's closure of her Urangan store.

The Kingfisher decision 12 months ago to move its terminal from the marina to River Heads, rather than the unravelling of the $800 million marina development project, was more telling in her decision to close the doors after 12 years.

She blamed “a lack of confidence across the whole marina”.

“Our business was cut to nothing. We tried to hang in there.

“There might have been people going out on whale watching boats but there were less people around as far as I'm concerned.

“The locals are not supporting us. They've actually abandoned the harbour.”

She said, by comparison, her Esplanade Banana Bender business was thriving.

Thriving was also a word on the lips of Dean Major, owner-operator of Café Balaena, also a harbour business for 12 years.

“I'm optimistic. We're very busy,” he said.

“Development is good and will be good again in the future.”

He took a positive slant from comments by Peter Daly, Seymour Group's development manager, about a possible scaled-down development.

“When they spoke of redeveloping originally, this business looked like it would be the last done.

“Now it could be the first done if there is a smaller development.

“We've invested a lot into the good feel of the harbour. We've grown with the harbour.

“I pride myself on being one of the people keeping the marina alive.”

He described the whale season as “bumper” and welcomed the reopening of a nearby food outlet, saying it established the marina as “an eating precinct”.

Cathie Graham, the owner of Cathie Maree's fashion boutique, was both upbeat and realistic about trade.

“It's been okay so far. November is always quiet. You're never going to know how things go.

“I'm not all doom and gloom.”

She said her six-year-old business was stable, and improving year by year.

“I can't complain,” she said.

Dorothy Saunders at Creations at the Harbour was also positive about the future but urged locals to keep the marina businesses in mind and to support them.

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