Charter boat brings tourism boost to Port City
GOOD fishing and great friends are the two key reasons fishermen from around Australia keep coming back to the charter boats in Gladstone.
Brian Mepham, Kim Pasco, Russ Pedwell and Bruce Whitfield, all from Brisbane, have been travelling up to Gladstone to go out on the boats for more than 20 years.
They're four of the passengers on board the Iron Joy which set out on a seven-day voyage to Swain Reefs on Friday.
The boat, operated by Rob Benn Holdings Pty Ltd, has sailed out of Gladstone since 2007, however the company itself has deep-seated roots.
General manager Anita Benn said the Benn family had been in Gladstone for three generations and had operated the charter company for more than 20 years.
"You can't replace that (local) experience,” Mrs Benn said.
"Gladstone has always been traditionally known for charter fishing.”
Although the trip is of great benefit to the fishermen, it's the local economy which reaps the indirect benefits.
Brisbane resident Mr Pascoe, who has visited Gladstone charter boats for more than 20 years, tended to agree.
"We reckon we've spent over half a million dollars over the time we've been coming up here,” Mr Pascoe said.
"It's all going into the local society - that's a lot of dough.”
Mrs Benn pointed out some of their passengers travelled from as far as New England to go out on the boats and would spend time in Gladstone accommodation before and after the trip. "They inject right into the economy from accommodation, meals, supplies even down to car parking,” she said.
"Average group is 16 to 18 people a week and we can take up to 22 and the other boats are similar.
"So if you've got 20 people staying in town going out for meals and booking hotels for the night it's a good thing.”
Other charter boats offering a similar service is the Kanimbla, M.V. Night Crossing, Tura Charters, MV Mikat, Booby Bird, Lady-N Fishing Charters and more.
Other guides include Justin Nye and Johnny Mitchell.