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 NT’s road to nowhere? We don’t think so!

30.06.19.  According to Roads and Infrastructure Magazine, April 4 2018, contracts were awarded for a $32.2M Gunn Point Road upgrade, NT. Either wittily or unwittingly there began a plan to shove the aggressive Beijing back into its box.
Nevertheless, you can be sure that China was watching from their snoop satellite and wondered why the stupid Australians would spend $40 million on a road to the prawn farm, Project Sea Dragon, a $1.45 billion prawn aquaculture project and a few fishermen’s shacks?
The Northern Territory Government then awarded three tenders – totalling $32.2 million – to local companies to realign and upgrade Gunn Point Road. Allan King & Sons Constructions secured the first package ($10,019,822.06), Alderbaran Contracting the second ($8,578,280.55), and Ostojic Group the third ($13,647,131.56) How a $10M contract can end in six cents is funny?
Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Nicole Manison said the project was aimed at improving road safety, reduce travel times, damage to vehicles and reduce ongoing road maintenance costs. That was public information for interested parties—the Chinese would be one of them and not happy. About 32Kms of the Gunn Point Road is now sealed. Read how China got Darwin here.
On 14 April, 2019, Matt Garrick for the ABC wrote an article about the Gunn Point Road project that will eventually push through to Glyde Point. That is a matter of immense concern to the Chinese who hold a 99-year lease on the Port of Darwin—Australia’s front door in the north.
Mr Garrick’s article was predominantly about being eaten by large crocodiles and reads like a croc hunter’s tourist brochure. Or, was it a ruse to throw  Beijing off the scent—a potentially real reason for the road and the Glyde Point destination?
Glyde Point is a probable deep water port being contemplated by the US Navy as a combined Australian/US navy base which would thwart China’s planed influence in the South Pacific. Such a base would take near a decade to complete and it would neuter Beijing’s hold on the Port of Darwin. Pass the Peking Duck please!
Source: Matt Garrick, ABC
New Top End road upgrade ‘raising the risks of trouble’ deep in crocodile country
In the seven years since he bought the Leaders Creek fishing base, Brian Bulner has seen some wildly stupid scenes of humans gambling with fate deep in crocodile country.
He has seen grown men dive under the surface of the murky Top End creek to swim inside a saltwater crocodile trap, then back to the ramp, ignoring the signposted warnings and laughing in the face of common-sense.
“They’d do it while someone was taking a photo,” Mr Bulner said.
“And this considering the fact that we have about 20 crocs here, and the biggest about 4.1 metres, right at the ramp.”
Leaders Creek can be found via a turn-off from Gunn Point Road, a shady nook which was once only accessible via a bumpy track frequented by the four-wheel-drive aficionados of rural Darwin.
But a $40 million infrastructure spend has this year seen a bulk of the Gunn Point Road sealed, meaning the region is now no longer limited to diehards — travellers and Darwin weekenders in sedans now have year-round access to the area as well.
“[Gunn Point Road will] improve public access to many of the Territory’s popular recreation and tourist areas used for fishing, hunting, four-wheel-driving and camping,” Infrastructure Minister Eva Lawler trumpeted in February.
But with the increased tourism comes an increased risk of saltwater crocs, and it is a possibility that has some concerned — especially in the build-up to Easter, traditionally one of the busiest camping weeks of the Top End calendar.
“There are a lot of people who blatantly push the boundaries with the apex predators,” Mr Bulner said.
“I’ve seen it happen here … people are just quite complacent when it comes to crocodiles, and they get into trouble.”
The waters around Shoal Bay — the same waters which surround Gunn Point — account for roughly a quarter of the Territory Parks and Wildlife rangers’ annual crocodile count.
In 2017, 85 crocodiles were caught in Shoal Bay waterways while 2018 saw a haul of 89.
So far this year, 18 saltwater crocodiles have been caught in traps and pulled out of the bay.
“Shoal Bay is around the corner from the Adelaide River … which has large numbers of crocodiles,” said senior ranger Stewart Woerle.
“A lot of crocodiles float into Shoal Bay, some end up in the traps, some continue on and end up in the harbour.”
Under the Territory’s croc management program, salties which live in the vicinity of human populations are caught in traps and eventually delivered to farms, with the aim of lowering the risk of human fatalities.
But there is always a risk, and with the Gunn Point Road upgrades meaning more people can get to previously inaccessible areas of Shoal Bay, rangers have been reiterating their long-standing mantra: “Just be careful.”
“Crocodiles are around, they are ambush predators, you don’t always see them,” wildlife ranger Ian Hunt said.
“Having the Gunn Point Road sealed now, a lot more people might be heading up that way to the top part of Gunn Point beach.
“As the population increases in and around the Darwin area, there are going to be more opportunities for people to interact with wild crocodiles.”
Surfers and fishers risk their lives daily
The rangers often have an uphill battle in reminding the Top End public that crocodiles lurk beneath the surface.
On arriving back from a recent crocodile trap-checking trip in Shoal Bay — one where Mr Hunt and Mr Woerle hauled in a 2.85-metre saltie — a kite surfer was out testing the swell and a number of fishers had cast handlines directly at the shoreline.
Mr Woerle said constantly seeing humans testing their luck against nature was “of concern”.
“There’s no guarantees anywhere with crocodiles,” he said.
“We sometimes pull into Buffalo Creek here, and we may have a three-and-a-half-metre crocodile onboard, or maybe two or three of them.
“And we pull up beside people who are almost waist deep throwing throw nets and say, ‘Mate, have a look at this. This is what’s in this water’. And it’s a bit of a wake-up for them.”
‘Two guys were ankle-deep’: Local’s warning
Long-term Territory fishers have roundly welcomed news of the Gunn Point Road’s sealing, but it comes with a note of apprehension.
Fisher Natalie Rowe, who has previously volunteered with the Parks and Wildlife crocodile management team, said there needed to be more warnings in place for those uninitiated to the region.
“I already know a lot of people that like to go down there [to Gunn Point] camping and that, [and at] Easter it will be packed out,” Ms Rowe said.
“Just today, there were a couple of guys who were from a different country and they were ankle-deep in the water here, and I had to tell them, ‘Hey you need to get back from the water, don’t stand in the water here’.
“People are just so oblivious — he said, ‘I didn’t even know there were crocs here’. I said, ‘Well there’s quite a few’.”
She said while there was already substantial warning signage, “I don’t think there’s as much advertisement as what there should be”.
At Leaders Creek, Mr Bulner said the Government could only do so much.
“People are just playing silly games [with crocs],” Mr Bulner said.
“It’s unnecessary, people are not thinking. You can’t do anything about it.”
Mr Bulner said he was anticipating “more traffic, more people coming fishing this way” this Easter than ever before, and judging from experience, he said safety warnings would continue to be ignored.
“I’ve seen crocs at Gunn Point beach, and people still jump into the water there, and dragnet for bait.
“It’s gonna keep happening. And people are gonna keep getting taken by crocs.”
No signs of additional croc safety infrastructure
The NT Infrastructure Department did not specify whether it had set up any additional signage or warnings about crocodile safety in the wake of the road’s sealing, and said only that the Easter break was a “timely reminder for all that remain on or near the water to be croc-wise”.
A department spokesman spruiked the benefits the sealing of the Gunn Point Road would bring — “there has been an increase in a range of recreational activities in the area, particularly camping, fishing and hunting” — but did not list crocodile harm as one of the safety concerns associated with the revamp.
The current road works are expected to be completed by June 2019, with planning now being undertaken to seal the final kilometres of the trek to Gunn Point.
Mr Hunt said the message to beware of crocs “was pushed pretty hard” by Parks and Wildlife, and that the onus was largely on the individual to be vigilant.
“Just be very mindful that you are in crocodile country up here,” he said.
“Try not to put yourself in any danger, or any risk of being a statistic.
“You don’t want to get caught out by a crocodile — you don’t get a second chance.”
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