31 March 2024

Bloomfield Cabins and Camping owners make best of bad situation

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Kat Hewitt and Yogi Noble

Kat Hewitt and Yogi Noble accommodated displaced residents at Bloomfield Cabins and Camping after Tropical Cyclone Jasper. Photo: Supplied.

When Tropical Cyclone Jasper washed away the homes of many Bloomfield, Ayton and Wujal Wujal residents, Bloomfield Cabins and Camping opened their doors and hearts to community members who had nowhere else to go.

Although the business was flooded, the infrastructure itself was not heavily impacted, and owners Kat Hewitt and Yogi Noble were able to accommodate residents in need.

Earlier this month, with the Bloomfield Track unlikely to reopen this year, Kat and Yogi made the decision to rent out the property to the Department of Housing to provide accommodation to residents while they worked on getting them into new homes.

“They’ve rented the whole property with their own management for at least three months, potentially four, while they do that,” said Kat.

The arrangement also helped the owners, who were quickly becoming aware of what a washed out track meant for the coming tourist season.

With a large portion of their guests travellers on the Bloomfield Track, Kat and Yogi realised they were facing financial catastrophe.

“Our business is 75 per cent based on the Bloomfield Track. With no track, we were pretty much looking at bankruptcy, and I know we’re not the only ones,” Kat said.

By handing over the reins to the State Government, the pair said they were able to continue helping the community while keeping themselves afloat.

“Given that we were already full to capacity with people who had been displaced from the flood, when the Department of Housing came, we focused on those people and said this would be an ideal situation for community housing,” she explained.

“Then they asked us if it was possible to rent for three to four months whilst they try to figure out what it was that the community needed, and how they could do that.

“There was lots of ideas that I found where they could utilise our property in a different format to what we would be using it, or could have the potential to use it that would benefit the community.

“Of course, I won’t say we weren’t looking out for our own self-interest as well, but when you’re faced with potential bankruptcy you’re going to be looking out for opportunities for your business and what it can provide.”

Kat said although she appreciated the workers that had come to Cape York to aid the region’s recovery, her priority was to make sure as many community members as possible had a dry place to sleep.

“We were more concerned about how we can help community, and we had to stop a lot of workers coming on to the site,” she said.

“I’m really sorry about that, but the workers did have the option to stay in Cooktown and even though it did add travel time, they had cars and they had a life they could get back to.

“Community didn’t have that; they were stuck, and if I could get them to be stuck close to home, particularly for those that were on Country, then to me it was a more compassionate option.”

While no one knows what the future holds, Kat and Yogi said they could not wait to be reunited with the community and continue their work.

“We worked really hard for the short time we were there, and we know pretty much every nook and cranny of it,” Ms Hewitt said.

“We’ve only been there two-and-a-half years; [it’s] one of the nicest, most friendliest places.

“The community has been very welcoming and supportive of us whilst we’ve been there.”

Bloomfield Cabins and Camping in the wet season

Nothing stays dry in the wet: Department of Housing are currently working on infrastructure to ensure residents stay as dry as possible. Photo: Supplied.

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