Leigh continued:

“That’s the challenge and quite frankly, if we don’t embrace this now we’ll all regret it.

So I’m here to help. I’m here to work with you and find a way forward but I think if the community and Council’s got the guts to take this on and do it, I think the rewards for the community, and I’m not just talking Palm Cove, will be immense. Because Palm Cove is a great part of Cairns. Everybody who has a visiting friend or relative; where do they go? They pop  them in the car and bring them out to Palm Cove. Why? For all the reasons I’ve talked about.

There will be people arcing up at the start up but everyone will love it in the end. We’ve got to bring everyone on the journey. They’ve given Council answers through the Council survey. The voices are there. We’re never going to get another chance like this? It’s time to do it.

Back in the day (1992) our plan was to stage the transformation to the promenade but that was thirty years ago.  The time for staging is over.  I know that as part of this Master Plan, Council was considering gazetting the vehicle flow to one way traffic as a possibility but a change like this means that the esplanade has to meet all of the current regulations.  And, interestingly enough, it’s not wide enough for one way traffic under the currents regs, let alone two.  Let’s face it.  It’s just a wide footpath.  Let’s make it official.

If we don’t have the conviction to do it now we never will.  In a way, Council has been staging the closure of the esplanade to conventional traffic through the monthly markets, Ironman and other events with closures of up to three days.

It comes back to a whole lot of identity issues too.  We talked about this in the TTNQ meeting at The Reef House on 10 Feb 2022.  I see Palm Cove as its own brand, as its own destination, but we are not promoted well for self-drive visitors.  Apart from inclusion on the large sign in the rest area off the highway at Aeroglen, we dholyon’t get a mention until the industry erected billboard at Palm Cove.

There should be a significant Palm Cove entry statement on the highway because I can’t tell you the number of people that I talk to who’ve never been into Palm Cove. They’ve been to Port Douglas. I would say it’s 90%.. They see Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach, ‘we’re going to Port Douglas’.

And it’s only after a process of discovery, usually, on the way back to the airport stopping in for lunch, they say, “Wow. This is a great place. So there’s this, there’s got to be a whole lot of stuff worked out with main roads.

There’s a lot of stuff landscaping-wise to be done up on the highway, cleverly done without a lot of maintenance that can just signal to people that hey we just hit a special area. So there’s heaps of stuff to do. It’s not a staging thing. It’s not a half pregnant thing. That’s not gonna work. We’re either in or out. And if we’re out, well it’s opportunity lost.

If we’ve got the guts to do this I’m telling you that every travel journalist in Australia and elsewhere in tourism or whatever will be talking about it.  What they want to talk and report about is real stuff, not fake stuff thought up by PR people.  We’ve got to put a total package for the whole community together.

We can grow the numbers by 400% of whatever it is. We’re changing the identity in the branding through an amazing promenade. I really feel that there should be a designated protected area and I’m thinking it’s the length of Palm Cove from the jetty to to just past Sea Temple or whatever the town boundary is and two or three blocks back.

So it’s the promenade plus Amphora and Oliva Sts. I think it’s far enough, somehow or another under the planning scheme, we’ve got to create that as a special precinct area. And if we do that and protect it in the way I’m talking about against all the little creep factors, then just like I keep telling everybody, all over the world journalists wrote about Carmel-by-the-Sea because that’s exactly what they did.

I know it’s not easy, but this is the opportunity. It’s make or break time with the promenade. It will be famous, absolutely famous and the destination, trust me, the people will flock here.

Palm Cove has lost its way. It’s slipping. So unless we arrest this now, Palm Cove will drop back to mediocrity. If we arrest it, it’ll be a very special place in Australia that’s written about all the time and that’ll achieve it’s tourism and business objectives.  Look, I’m happy to help. I’m still passionate about the place. I’ve been just distracted the last 10 years or so doing other things but I haven’t lost my passion for the place.  As often as you want, I’ll come and help, I’m here to help us achieve this goal, and I’d love to help.”