THE Rottnest Society has slammed plans for a glamping retreat behind the dunes at Pinkys Beach.
An application for an 86-tent eco-retreat was recently lodged by Pinkeys Beach Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Rottnest Express operators the Bailey Group, and has already scored a position in Lonely Planet’s top-10 new attractions worldwide.
But society chairman Eric Moxham says the tents will be in the wrong place and he fears it will end up being another price-pusher that will make the already-expensive island further out of reach of WA families.
“Many years ago they did talk about a low-key eco-resort on the island, but no one imagined it would be in a position next to the wastewater treatment plant behind Pinkys Beach, which is pristine and used by visitors to the island and school groups because it is safe and beautiful,” Mr Moxham told the Herald.
The development application includes a small jetty on the beach, designed for boaties to be able to tie up their dinghies and head straight onto shore – perhaps to the new bars, kiosk, cafe or retail outlet that will be on offer.
Mr Moxham said the new development will take over some of the hard-fought new tent sites nearby, and he can’t understand why something billed as an eco-retreat would be next to a bunch of other facilities.
“It should be away from the settlement,” he says.
But that creates planning problems because the Rottnest Island Act puts limits on spreading the built environment.
“They are trying to fulfil this dream that people will come to Rottnest because you have glamorous tents, but there’ll be a lot of wind and at times of the year it will be awful.”
Mr Moxham says the society would like the development to be scaled back by at least half, and suspects the tender was initially for something more modest.
He’s also worried about Bailey carving out a monopoly on the island, as the company already owns Aristos Waterfront Rottnest, as well as the Kiosk at the departure jetty in Fremantle.
Pinkys says the retreat will create a “nest for visitors seeking to relax and indulge in nature-based pursuits” and will help bring more overseas visitors to the island.
Mr Moxham says with plenty of island options available overseas already – most a lot cheaper than Rottnest – that’s unlikely to happen.
Pinkys says the area is degraded already, and anyone will be able to use its raised walkways to get to the beach or use the bar and cafe facilities.
by STEVE GRANT