10 May 2023

Cape York council to float ferry proposal with owners of luxury tropical resort

| Samuel Davis
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A BOLD new plan to ferry tourists from Cooktown to the tropical paradise of Lizard Island has been revealed by the Cook Shire mayor.

Around 90 kilometres adrift from Cooktown, Lizard Island has returned to its former glory almost a decade on from the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Ita.

And with its shimmering waters, pristine coral reefs and technicolour sunsets, visitors to the remote island almost exclusively arrive via small aircraft.

But Cook Shire mayor Peter Scott said that may change with hopes a ferry service can soon whisk travellers from the banks of the Endeavour River to the gorgeous white sands of Anchor Bay.

“We have a beautiful harbour in Cooktown at the mouth of the river,” Cr Scott said.

“It’s sheltered and we see it as very much under-utilised.

“We’ve got a lot of culture and natural beauty in our part of the world and I think that’s the experience people are looking for.

“At the moment, most people fly to the island in small planes to get there but not everyone likes that. So, we think our suggestion is a good one.”

Bought by Aussie billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest for $42 million last year, Lizard Island Resort is currently managed by Delaware North.

Cook Shire hopes to speak to the mining magnate’s representatives soon to outline the proposal.

“He’s obviously done some work to improve the resort,” Cr Scott said of the island getaway’s new owner.

“Lizard Island has always been high-end and managed by people with strong business acumen.

“We’ve made contact with them. We’re just waiting for them to get back to us.”

Tropical Cyclone Ita caused $50 million worth of damage when the Category 4 system burst through the region in April 2014.

Since then, new challenges, including the pandemic and concerns around coral bleaching, have emerged.

But unlike other tropical getaways along the coastline, Lizard Island has weathered the storm.

“It’s a little like Hamilton Island in that it’s upmarket, unique and has a degree of exclusivity,” Professor of Tourism at CQ University Dr Bruce Prideaux said.

“Lizard Island has an honour roll of incredible past guests. That creates a certain level of prestige which carries over.

“But it also requires an extremely high standard of service.

“So it’s about taking the natural elements and building up an experience around that.”

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