THE BATTLE OF LORIKEET PARK, A PEREGIAN BEACH TURNING POINT
1993. Margaret Wilkie - third from right.
Margaret Wilkie remembers those first days of January 1993 like it was yesterday.
"Frank and I used to ride to the Coolum Pool in the morning. We heard noises like a tractor mower, but thought it was grass mowing. Next morning we saw the park had been bulldozed and large trees felled."
This was more than vandalism. The developer-friendly Maroochy Shire Chairman Fred Murray was very keen on the connection to the new Sunshine Coast motorway going right through the environmental park at the Southern end of Peregian Beach, and along Lorikeet Drive next to the dunes.
It would have cut through the quiet residential enclave of South Peregian Beach like a knife.
The work had not been authorised, discussions between government departments were still underway and the local protest was just gathering steam. But here were the bulldozers cutting a swathe through the park.
"I looked up the Environment Minister's phone number in the phone book. It was a Saturday morning and I didn't think anyone would answer. A woman answered the phone and when I asked to speak to the Minister she asked what it was about. I said it was very important as someone had bulldozed the park. She said she was the Minister's senior advisor and told me negotiations were still underway and no decision had been finalised."
The bulldozers told another story. "I believe they were there while government departments were lightly staffed and Ministers were on holiday."
Suddenly the protest shifted into top gear, hitting the newspapers, and "when the bulldozer returned on Monday, Jeff Lee, Don White and I raced to the end of Lorikeet and confronted the man in charge, telling him the Ministers had not agreed on any incursion into the park and he could be in serious trouble if he persisted."
"We threatened to stand in front of the bulldozer until he contacted the Minister's office. He did get in touch with someone and the clearing stopped."
PBCA bushcarers restoring Lorikeet Park.
The victory was a turning point for Peregian Beach. The little group fought on to split from the Maroochy Shire - becoming the Southernmost outpost of Noosa - and eventually morphed into the Peregian Beach Community Association which has battled ever since to protect the area from cowboy developers.
The PBCA bushcare group ended their year's work at Lorikeet Park a few days ago. It was a fitting place to celebrate past victories, and plan for the battles that lie ahead.
PBCA bushcare co-ordinator Rochelle Gooch with Margaret Wilkie.