4.6.1 Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area
Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area (Figure 4.5) contains a range of coastal, sub-coastal and aquatic landscapes and ecosystems which occur in a relatively natural state with a high degree of integrity and diversity. It is of national importance to the maintenance and demonstration of geomorphological, ecological and biological processes of the coastal and hinterland environment.21 The high integrity of much of the area, together with its steep environmental gradients, makes it a significant benchmark area for scientific research.21 The area is one of the most important foraging areas in the southern part of the Region for threatened and vulnerable species, such as dugongs and green turtles.21 The area’s very good condition can be attributed mainly to its restricted access as a defence training area. Military use of the site is strictly controlled, managed and monitored and has not caused any known changes to the ecological character of the site. The Department of Defence has pest animal management programs for the site and a regional oil spill response plan is in place.86 A 2009 state of the environment report for the area 86 concluded that the significant environmental and heritage values are in the same condition as when they were first recognised — in some cases, in better condition.
Figure 4.5 Shoalwater Bay Military training area commonwealth heritage place
The Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area is a Commonwealth heritage place. Some of it is within the Region.
Lightstations and islands
Low Island retains its importance as part of the sea country of its Traditional Owners.
Low Island and Low Islets lightstation The lightstation was constructed in 1878 and was the first in the north of the Reef. Its location inside the Great Barrier Reef was the first attempt to address the dangers to shipping approaching newly established ports, including Cairns and Port Douglas, from the north.21 Low Island has heritage significance to Kuku Yalanji and Yirriganjdji Traditional Owner groups as part of their Dreamings. A heritage management plan for Low Isles and Low Islets lightstation is being developed. Dent Island lightstation was constructed in 1879. It is characteristic of a light tower built in response to the dramatic expansion of regular coastal shipping along the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef, following economic development in northern Queensland.21 The lightstation is well maintained and a heritage management plan is in place. North reef lightstation was built in 1878. It is recognised for its rarity as one of the few lighthouses built on a coral reef, incorporating a residence at the base of the tower. The technical achievement of incorporating a rain water tank underneath the structure is also recognised.21
The lightstations with Commonwealth heritage values are generally well maintained.
Lady elliot Island lightstation demonstrates the historical development of a lightstation complex over time, with changes made in lighthouse technology and accommodation, and the addition of other service buildings. The lighthouse was built in 1873, using a timber-framed substructure and cast iron external cladding. The use of timber framing for the staircase is a rare example of this construction method in lighthouses in Australia.21 The lightstation is also recognised for its aesthetic characteristics as a landmark feature which, along with the island, marks the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.21 A heritage management plan is in place. For the heritage-listed lightstations and islands, their values are well recorded. There has been extensive maintenance in recent years which has substantially improved the condition of the structures.
4.7 Current state and trends of natural heritage values