THIS WEEK, MORE floods moved through the north and a number of van parks once again found themselves at the hands of nature. The Bruce Highway was cut in several places, in addition to property damage.
I spoke to some of the Qld caravan parks already working overtime to recover from the effects of ravaging floods and Cyclone Yasi, which devastated much of the state in January.
I also discovered that, in the face of extensive damage, park owners have gone out of their way to help each other, and out-of-towners have pitched in alongside locals to help clean up the mess.
The north Qld town of Cardwell bore the brunt of Cyclone Yasi. In Cardwell Beachcomber Tourist Park, the chaotic weather caused severe damage to cabins, many of which lost roofs and doors. Power heads and trees were blown down, and it was weeks before power was fully restored.
The clean up began immediately and new power heads were ordered. Cardwell owner Graham Hennessey told me that as soon as power was restored he could open the caravan sites, but the cabins would need major renovations. He hoped all would be back to normal by the start of the tourist season in May.
At Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village at South Mission Beach, foreshore cabins were completely destroyed. There was much damage to the lush tropical vegetation, and tiled roofs atop the main shop and office were ripped apart.
The owners are now considering whether they will replace the beachfront cabins, or turn them into powered sites. There are plans to have the park back up and running by Easter, but a few sites and cabins will be available in the meantime.
Further north along Mission Beach, the beachfront Top Tourist Park, Mission Beach Hideaway Holiday Village, suffered much damage to surrounding plant life but was spared major structural problems. After a huge cleanup, they were able to reopen fairly quickly. Owner Chris Curnuck told me they are offering a 25 per cent discount until late in April.
Just 30km further north at Kurrimine Beach, owners of Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park, Marcus and Kay Kitchen, had trees and power heads blown down in the cyclone. Following Cyclone Larry five years ago, they had recently spent a lot of money upgrading the cabins and amenities to a higher cyclone rating. They still had power off for many days, but are now back in business and hoping that southerners will support them again.
The Flying Fish Point Caravan Park in Innisfail had 10 semi-trailer loads of vegetation to clean up and cart away, plus cabin awnings and TV antennas to replace, but the park is back up and running. Owners Andre and Nita were thankful they avoided any tidal surges.
On the Atherton Tablelands, Discovery Holiday Parks – Lake Tinaroo had some trees down, but no structural damage, and after some cleaning up is now operating as usual. And Cyclone Yasi had an impact as far north as Wonga Beach in the Daintree area: Pinnacle Village Holiday Park had tree branches down and power was out for four days.
Further south, in Rockhampton, the Southside Holiday Village was flooded for two weeks. The park was full of mud and fences were down. Park manager Nev O'Neill told me all damage has been repaired, and assures tourists the park is open for business.
When I checked in on the state of Crystal Cascades Holiday Park in Cairns, I learned that the park had suffered some tree damage. I also learned that owner Russell Drayton and his son, Phillip, had gone south to lend a hand to other park owners who sustained more serious damage. That's the Qld spirit in action, and I'm pleased to report that Russell's popular park is open and looking forward to a good winter season.
If nothing else, these extreme weather events have demonstrated the enormous capacity of Queenslanders to pull together when their backs are against the wall. As always, dire situations lead to incredible examples of selflessness and community spirit.
Although damage was very severe in some areas and floods and cyclones occurred over a large area of Qld, all caravan parks we spoke to are recovering well. They ask that you consider supporting them by spending this year’s your holiday up north, where you will be made most welcome.