Holey hell: Miner turns Princes Park to a gold field

MARYBOROUGH may have to shift its Bendigo Football-Netball League home game this weekend, after a gold prospector damaged Princes Park. 

A 37-year-old Queensland man was yesterday issued with a $282 penalty notice for wilful property damage after using Maryborough’s Princes Park as a gold prospecting site during the week. 

The prospector – who produced a Miner’s Right when confronted by police and Central Goldfields Shire workers – dug about 80 holes on the ground, with most of the damage on the grandstand wing.

Central Goldfields Shire parks staff have been working on repairing the ground since the damage was discovered at 10am yesterday, with a decision to be made this afternoon on whether the ground is safe to host the Maryborough-Strathfieldsaye round three BFNL match this Saturday.

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“You would say some are more divots than holes, but some are quite significant in size. The more significant ones are probably a foot square by six or seven inches deep,” Central Goldfields Shire corporate and community services general manager Wayne Belcher said yesterday.

“We discovered the damage this morning when the parks and gardens staff arrived and the man was still there after camping overnight at Princes Park.

“The man was quite unfazed by it all. When he was confronted he told us he had a Miner’s Right, to which we informed him that it doesn’t apply to Crown Land under management by committees.

“The problem we’ve now got to work through considering the size of some of the holes is whether it’s safe for Saturday to play against Strathfieldsaye.”

A 4pm deadline has been set today in determining if Princes Park will be in a suitable condition to host Saturday’s scheduled games.

“We’ll get it mown and re-sodded today, and it’s just a matter of how much the sods take from today to tomorrow afternoon,” Mr Belcher said. 

"From a council perspective, it’s very frustrating because the oval looks as well as it has since the drought... that’s how long it has taken us to get it back.

“The amount of time and money we’ve spent on the ground after nearly losing it during the drought had it looking a million dollars at the weekend.

“It’s still looking good in most parts – it’s just the 80-odd holes in it.”

Maryborough Football-Netball Club president Mick Reid was hopeful the Magpies would play their game at home against the Storm as fixtured.

“It’s obviously very disappointing. There’s almost 100 holes that are not all big, but spread out enough to upset the footy,” Mr Reid said.

“We’ll address it tomorrow afternoon and if it looks like the game can’t go ahead here, it will give Strathfieldsaye plenty of notice.

“We’ll see how the council boys go and hopefully, we’ll be right.”

With no games scheduled at Strathfieldsaye’s Flight Centre Park on Saturday, the likely scenario, if Princes Park is unavailable, is shifting the game to Strathfieldsaye.

Unfortunately for the miner, his exploits failed to unearth any gold.

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