Man’s elaborate hidden home on 'paradise' island
MULTI-MILLION dollar waterfront views, an outdoor entertaining area to die for and no mortgage to speak of - it sounds too good to be true, right?
Right! Personal trainer Donovan De Witt has found out the hard way that paradise on the Gold Coast comes at a big cost.
The Southport man was caught by the Gold Coast Waterways Authority camping out on Wavebreak Island between April and August.
But he wasn't using a small one-man tent. No, Mr De Witt's cheeky digs included a lockable 11.5 sqm "wooden tent" - that looked suspiciously like a hut - concealed in 20m of camouflage netting, along with folding seats, a picnic table, a portable toilet and a telescope.
But the waterways authority wasn't having any of that and took legal action in the Southport Magistrates Court to force Mr De Witt and his "sophisticated camp" off the Broadwater island.
It was the first time a court order had been sought and granted over illegal camping on the island, which is popular with anglers and boaties.
Acting CEO Jessica Bourner told the Bulletin: "We've had to spend a lot of time, and taxpayers' money, dealing with this issue.
"This is money that could have been better spent on managing the waterways for the benefit of the wider community."
Ms Bourner said Mr De Witt was spotted "travelling between the public boat ramp on Marine Pde at Labrador and the island on several occasions in a dinghy loaded up with building materials and furniture".
"He was surprised when our officer advised him that he was not allowed to camp on the island," she said.
"He said he'd seen other people camping on the island and was unaware that camping was illegal."
Ms Bourner said the authority was chasing about $7000 in court costs.
But an incredulous Mr De Witt defended his actions and said he had been camping at Wavebreak Island in stints for 20 years.
"It's paradise mate. It's like being in the country in the middle of the city by the water.
"I was waking up looking over Surfers of a morning. It was beautiful."
Mr De Witt was outspoken about what he described as restriction of public land.
He dubbed the island, previously his favourite camping spot, "our bloody Central Park".
"We need parklands. They (the State) want to give it away, cut it off, stop everyone from using it," Mr De Witt said.
"It's Crown land, it's our place, not for the Chinese to build their s--- on."
Mr De Witt said he had packed up the camp and returned the site to its normal state.
The authority confirmed this in a statement, saying: "All evidence of the campsite has been removed."
The "wooden tent" that the authority had referred to as a "building" was erected on Australia Day this year, Mr De Witt said.
Ms Bourner said Wavebreak Island, created in 1985 as part of the Gold Coast Seaway construction, was for day visitors only.
The authority had powers under the Land Act 1994 as the state trustee of the island.