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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cyclone Update From the Tourism Industry Tropical North Queensland

Tropical Cyclone Yasi crossed the Queensland coast around midnight on Wednesday 2 February as a category 5 cyclone. Yasi crossed the coat at Mission Beach near Tully in Tropical North Queensland (half-way between Cairns and Townsville). Please find an update from the tourism industry below.

The Cyclone WARNING from Cardwell to Ayr and inland to Charters Towers has been cancelled.

At 1:00 pm EST today Tropical Cyclone Yasi, was downgraded to a category 1 system. A Cyclone WARNING is current for communities across the tropical interior from west of Charters Towers and south of Croydon extending to the Northern Territory border, including Mt Isa and Longreach. Tropical Cyclone Yasi continues to weaken, but is producing heavy rain and damaging wind gusts about the tropical interior. Local authorities are currently waiting for conditions to ease, before assessing the extent of the damage.

Visitor safety is a key priority and as a result many tourism operations in the cyclone warning area between Cairns and the Tropical North and The Whitsundays have evacuated guests or have temporarily closed operations until the cyclone threat has passed. Access into the cyclone warning area is also currently restricted. The Department of Traffic and Main Roads has a list of road closures and conditions, click here to read more.

The latest cyclone information can be found at www.bom.gov.au/cyclone. The Queensland Holidays website has cyclone and flood information that will be updated daily.

Airport information - Most airports between Mackay and Cairns have reportedly re-opened this afternoon or early tomorrow, however please check with carriers for the most up-to-date information on flights schedules and airport operations.

Tourism Queensland has been working with our industry, state and federal governments, RTOs, industry associations, Tourism Australia, retail and wholesale partners around the world, airlines and the media to gather and disseminate information. Please contact your regional tourism organisation or Tourism Queensland Zone Director for updates you would like us to include.

The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation has published a 'survival guide for cyclones, storms, floods and bushfires' page. For more information click here. Latest cyclone information
 
TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND
 
HERON ISLAND AND LIZARD ISLAND
 
Lizard Island has received minimal damage from Cyclone Yasi, which made landfall on the Far North Queensland coast overnight.
 
On Lizard Island, 240km north of Cairns and 27km off the coast of Cape Flattery, the tides have been higher than expected but all boats and structures have been secured, and there has been no major impact. Lizard Island has power and the only damage appears to be vegetation, such as fallen tree branches. As a precautionary measure, and following advice from meteorological sources, guests were evacuated from Lizard Island on Tuesday 1st February. The team at Lizard Island who remained on the island are all safe and well.
 
Lizard Island is expected to re-open on Saturday 5th February.  Guests who were required to cut their stay short on Lizard Island will be able to take the remainder of their holiday at another time, without incurring fees.
 
On Heron Island, at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, 72km off the coast of Gladstone, there has been no damage, and the island is operating as normal and open for business. 
 
Guests who have been affected regarding travel to Lizard Island are being asked to contact their travel provider or the Delaware North Australia Parks & Resorts reservations team on 1300 863 248.  Bookings for future travel on both Heron and Lizard Island are being accepted as per usual.

 
DUNK AND BEDARRA ISLAND
Tropical Cyclone Yasi impacted Bedarra (www.bedarra.com.au) and Dunk Island resorts (www.dunk-island.com) overnight.
As previously advised, all staff who remained on the resorts during this period are safe and accounted for. No guests were at the resorts at the time.
We are currently re-locating all staff from the island to the mainland, other than a skeleton team who will remain to secure the resorts, and arrangements are currently being put in place for transfers off the islands, the provision of accommodation, and where required, for counselling of staff on the mainland.
In addition to attending to staff re-locations, Dunk Island Resort General Manager, David Henry and Bedarra Acting General Manager, Sophia Rutty, who were both with their staff overnight, are currently undertaking a preliminary situation analysis to determine the extent of damage to the properties. It is still too early to determine how long the resorts will need to be closed to allow the necessary clean up and repair works to be undertaken, however, it is clear that the damage is extensive. A further announcement will be made in due course in this regard.
Hideaway Resorts CEO, Mark Campbell and Director, Andrew Menzies have recently arrived on Dunk Island to support David and Sophia.
Hideaway Resorts Chairman, Rupert Greenhough said "We are enormously relieved that all staff have safely come through this extraordinary experience, which is testament to the planning and preparations undertaken for these situations. We are confident that with their combined, and significant experience of these properties, Mark and David will lead us through the recovery efforts, and allow the resorts to be up and running again, as soon as possible."
For further information please contact Rupert Greenhough via Hideaway Resorts Head Office: (07) 4047 4700.
 
MANTRA GROUP PROPERTIES IN TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND
None of the Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree properties in Tropical North Queensland were damaged after Tropical Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast last night.
Mantra Group operates 12 properties in Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove.    All of the Cairns and Port Douglas properties are currently open for business.  Two properties in Palm Cove are likely to open tomorrow once extensive vegetation has been cleared from public areas and swimming pools.
Peppers Blue on Blue Resort on Magnetic Island near Townsville is expected to re-open by the weekendPeppers Coral Coast Resort in the Whitsundays is likely to re-open this afternoon as electricity has now been restored to Airlie Beach.
All other Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree properties in Queensland were unaffected by the cyclone and are operating as usual.
Electricity, telephones and internet access has been restored to all properties in the region. 
All guests with bookings affected by the cyclone have already been personally contacted. Mantra Group has relaxed its cancellation policy in the lead-up to the cyclone by offering guests at affected properties three options including changing their holiday dates, changing their holiday destination or receiving a refund on their booking.  Cancellation policies are expected to return to normal over the next couple of days once the clean-up around the properties is finalised.
Mantra Group Director of Operations Mark Hodge praised the efforts of his team throughout the cyclone process.
"Our team followed tried and tested procedures to ensure the safety of guests, team members and physical properties.  The speed in which they cleaned up the aftermath is extremely commendable."
Media information:
Susan Sullivan, Public Relations Manager, Mantra Group, susan.sullivan@mantragroup.com.au, 07 5631 2543
Naomi McNamara, Public Relations Executive, Mantra Group, naomi.mcnamara@mantragroup.com.au, 07 5631 2541
 
WHITSUNDAYS
 
CYCLONE YASI SPARES DAYDREAM ISLAND
 
Daydream Island Resort and Spa has been spared the worst from Cyclone Yasi, with only minor vegetation damage reported around the Whitsunday island.
 
Resort Manager Greg Betty said preliminary inspections show only a debris and vegetation clean up is needed.
 
"We have come through the strong winds very well and the cleanup has already begun," Mr Betty said. "It is anticipated we will get operations back to normal within 24-48 hours and we are looking forward to our guests returning. We are extremely grateful that Daydream has been relatively unscathed by the storm and it's good news for the Whitsundays. Our thoughts though are with those communities such as Tully and Mission Beach which bore the brunt of the Category 5 cyclone."
 
All guests were evacuated from Daydream on Tuesday morning as part of the island's cyclone contingency plans. Around 20 staff remained on Daydream in a cyclone-proof facility. All ferry services and flight connection services with Cruise Whitsundays are anticipated to be operating as from Friday 4th February and the Daydream reservations team are open to take bookings. They can be contacted on 1800 075 040.
 
Media enquiries to Brenton Gibbs 0419 828 440 brenton@crookpublicity.com
 
HAYMAN NEWS UPDATE
Cyclone Yasi passed over Hayman last night (Wednesday 2 February).
Hayman was fully prepared for the anticipated extreme weather conditions associated with the cyclone and took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone on the island.  A full assessment of the resort was undertaken early this morning.
There has been some minor damage to vegetation and landscaping rectification works will commence today.  Azure restaurant, located on the beachfront, incurred some aesthetic damage and will remain closed in the short term, with alternative arrangements being made for our daily buffet breakfast.
We are welcoming guest arrivals from tomorrow (Friday 4 February).

 
FURTHER SOUTH .. RECOVERY IN PROGRESS
 
CHARDONNAY, HARVESTED GUMBOOT STYLE
 
Chardonnay and gumboots generally don't belong together, that is until you throw floodwater into the picture. Decked out in gumboots, pickers worked against the floodwater to salvage Chardonnay grapes in Western Queensland.
 
The latest vintage of Chardonnay was unexpectedly Riversands largest yet, despite constant wet weather throughout the year and three floods. "When the grapes are ripe, they need to be harvested straight away. We had to pick quickly against the rising tide of the flood, at one stage we were even working in gumboots!" says Marketing Manager Dana Gluzde.
 
Riversands Vineyards in St George, the most Western vineyard in Queensland, recently faced three of the worst floods in recorded history – in less than 12 months.
 
Known in the peak of the floods for transporting their grapes on a homemade pontoon made out of empty 44 gallon drums, the Chardonnay harvest has paid off with the vintage already showing some reasonable fruit flavours.
"We are also lucky enough to have a wine maker who can help us to rearrange our grapes across different lines which will fill gaps in coming years. For example, we are able to put a small portion of our Chardonnay into the Major Mitchell to maintain supply levels."
"In most of our wine styles, we have good reserves up our sleeve for the coming years. Whilst our Chardonnay volume was good, other grape varieties weren't as plentiful. Overall, we expect we have been able to harvest half our usual crop," says Dana.
 
Riversands is planning to release a special edition of their 2011 Chardonnay to commemorate surviving the floods and celebrate the bumper harvest. "We were able to capture some great images during the time of the flood, which we are hoping to incorporate into the label," concludes Dana.
 
Pictures of the great flood at: www.riversandswines.com


* WINNER Queensland's 'Best Chardonnay' & 'Best Queensland White in Show' CAIRNS WINE SHOW *
 
 
Moreton Island Adventures Free Family Fun Day
We Won't Be Beaten - Flood-affected families sought for free island adventure
Moreton Island Adventures are offering 60 families the chance to enjoy a free trip to Moreton Island on Sunday 27 February.
 
Moreton Island Adventures General Manager Howard Spry said he was inviting up to 300 people who had been displaced by recent flooding to participate in a family beach fun day on Moreton Island.
 
"We will be providing free transport to the island on the Micat cruise ship, food, entertainment, beach games, activities and — weather and tides permitting — guided snorkelling for children over 8," Mr Spry said.  "We're hoping the day will give families who have been severely affected by the floods the chance to enjoy a worry-free outing and enjoy a little luxury. Significant donations of food and equipment has been donated by many of our wonderful suppliers, and our staff are happily volunteering their time towards the cause so we are going to be able to put on a really special day at no cost to families"
 
"We're seeking nominations from the community for families who have been displaced and are really in need of some R&R during this long process of cleanup and recovery," he said.
 
If you know of any flood hero family, nominate them or if you are a flood hero family, nominate yourselves, simply by emailing marketing@moretonislandadventures.com.au, phoning 07 3909 3333 or visiting the Moreton Island Adventures Family Day Out fan page on Facebook.
All we need are full contact details including name, street address, contact phone number, number and ages of children and your email address
 
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