10 May 2023

Tourism operators keen for a busy season ahead

| Sarah Martin
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Paula Clancy and Mick Brandt from Port Douglas spent their Easter long weekend in Cooktown.

DESPITE road closures and the threat of rain keeping visitors away from much of the Cape at Easter, local businesses say they are expecting another bumper tourist season to kick off soon.

Dave Hartwell from Seisia-based fishing and tour business Cape York Adventures said bookings were coming in fast for May onwards.

“It’s looking like it’s going to be a pretty busy season,” he told Cape York Weekly.

“I think we’re going to be busy up here for a few years to come, all those people who invested in cars, camper trailers and caravans are going to use them for a while yet.”

Weipa Camping Ground owner Brooke Quartermaine agreed, saying the self-drive market provided reliable annual bookings.

“We’re really looking forward to a strong season and can’t wait for it to start,” she said.

“We might also find a bit of clientele heading our way because of the recent flooding and natural disasters in Burketown and the Kimberley, which is a real shame for the other regions; I feel for those guys.”

Leslyn Auchterlonie at Cooktown Caravan Park said she was booked out for the Easter weekend but was expecting cancellations if it rained.

“Weather pending, Easter is always a really good start to the busy season,” she said.

“We’re booked out, and I’m confident the weather is going to remain fantastic.”

Ms Auchterlonie said the town was eagerly waiting for visitors after a very quiet wet season.

“It was the quietest off-season we’ve had in two years, probably because of the rain and some people still think it’s an unsealed road to get to Cooktown.

“I think the town is going to be welcoming an early start to the season.”

Ms Auchterlonie said, in addition to the weather, Cooktown’s season also depended on the opening of the Peninsula Developmental Road.

“Our busy season kicks off about a week before the road opens, and if it doesn’t open, we have a slow start.

“But this time of year, we’re all aware that it could be a month or more before it opens.”

Mick Brandt and Paula Clancy were spending their Easter between Cooktown and the Lion’s Den Hotel at Helenvale, and said they loved getting away from their home at Port Douglas.

“It’s our fifth time up here, we love coming up for a weekend and just chilling out,” Mr Brandt said.

“We came up for the races last year, and we’re coming again this year.

“We might have a hit of golf, we’re going for a massage this morning, maybe a fish and go to the markets, do some walking.”

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