Photography by TEQ
Abell Point Marina owner, Paul Darrouzet is the visionary behind the proposed state-of-the-art facility at the second basin of Bowen Harbour, comprising superyacht berths, refit and repair facilities and a College to nurture and train the marine industry professionals required to cater to the anticipated boom in visitation to the region.
“With the recent opening of the Whitsundays to superyachts and the predicted influx of vessels ahead of the Commonwealth Games and the lead up to the next America’s Cup, demand for more facilities will be strong,” said Darrouzet.
“The expected reforms to the Coastal Shipping legislation will entice more foreign-flagged superyachts to Australia, seeking new destinations. It’s like all the planets have aligned and it’s time to add capacity as the industry grows.”
There is no other facility like the one proposed between Cairns and Brisbane. Plans are to accommodate vessels up to 1,000 Tonnes.
Darrouzet sites findings from the independent Economic Impact Study into the Australian superyacht industry, funded in part by the Queensland government, which indicated that investment in infrastructure would be required to accommodate rising international demand.
“We are working with stakeholders, including the Commonwealth and State governments, Ports North, Whitsunday Council, Chamber of Commerce and the business community, and various user groups to form a strategy,” said Darrouzet, acknowledging the process is likely to take a few years.
“Given the process involves applications, feasibility studies, finance, an analysis of risk-reward ratios and so on, it will take a few years. But when’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. So right now is the next best time. Really, the question is why not? There is nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of employment, contribution to the community, tourism and growing the entire marine industry.”
On the Gold Coast last week to visit the state’s leading marinas and shipyards, Darrouzet led a delegation consisting of Andrew Willcox, Mayor of Whitsunday Regional Council, Barry Barry Omundson, Council CEO, Luke McCaul, General Manager of Abell Pt Marina.
“Bowen Marina is located on a perfect natural and sheltered harbour,” continued Darrouzet. “The hill provides protection from most prevailing winds. There is a partially developed section and a second area that is clear which would be ideal for hardstand and sheds. The site is close to town and represents a game-changer when you consider the benefits of jobs, tourism and putting Bowen on the map for cruising yachts.”
Just 30 nautical miles north of Airlie Beach and Abell Pt Marina, Bowen is known as ‘Top of the Whitsundays’. The town and its environs enjoyed an extended period in the international spotlight in 2008 as the location for the filming of the outback epic film Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
It’s also home to the Big Mango, hosted the Offshore Superboat series in July, and is proud of its rifle range and the Grandview Hotel, named Australia’s Best Regional Pub in 2015.
A renowned food bowl, Bowen produces more than its share of produce, most famously, the delectable Bowen mango, tomatoes, capsicums and beans, as the Mayor explains.
“The climate is ideal for horticulture, and we have many beautiful beaches along the scenic foreshore. There are 10,000 people living here and like many regional and rural centres, we have our challenges when it comes to employment.
“The overarching principle of a new Maritime Centre of Excellence in Bowen is that it benefits everybody involved. There is no downside.”