So near so far

Located just eight kilometres across the bay from the centre of Darwin, Cox Peninsula is nonetheless in many ways a remote and vulnerable area in the Territory.

Prone to cyclones and in weather where boating conditions are hazardous, the population of just 200 people must travel 130 kilometres by road to access emergency and other services available in Darwin. During the wet season, the road is often impassable.

In response to this risk, the Cox Peninsula Emergency Service Volunteer Unit has been established. At a function which it hosted in February, Chief Minister, Shane Stone handed over a new four wheel drive rescue vehicle and fully equipped rescue trailer to assist the Unit's operations.

Council Clerk Graham Watson first proposed establishing the Unit in 1995. The aim is to have a response unit available in the event of cyclone and storm damage, road accidents or land and marine searches.

At the launch, Graham pointed out that had the new equipment been operational at the time of a drowning tragedy last New Year's Eve, the search and rescue operation that followed would have been carried out in much safer circumstances.

Augmenting the Unit, Council's Office has been purpose built to serve as the only cyclone shelter on the Peninsula. For an extra $20,000, the Office has reinforced concrete ceilings, debris shutters over windows and wiring for emergency power supplies.

In the event of a cyclone, the Peninsula's population can all seek shelter for the duration of the storm.

"The building would be 'cosy' in such an event but will provide safe accommodation until the danger has passed," Graham Watson said.

The Northern Territory Government will provide ongoing financial support of $7,000 per annum to maintain the equipment, including the trailer's generator, lighting, chain saw and other emergency equipment. The Community Government Council, which was established just two years ago, will house the equipment.

Plans are now afoot to lobby for a boat ramp at Wagait beach and to raise money for a Zodiac rescue boat. Police Commissioner, Brian Bates, said that establishment of the Unit was a good example of community self help.

For further information contact Graham Watson, telephone (08) 8922 3344.