Cyclone Larry hit land about 3 am on Monday, March 20, on a 100km front stretching from Cardwell in the south to Cairns in the north. The townships of Innisfail, Mission Beach and Tully, all about 100 kilometres to the south of Cairns, took the brunt of the category five storm.
In Innisfail, Cyclone Larry's 290km/h winds tore roofs from buildings and flattened or uprooted trees. Now Queensland's Tourism Industry Crisis Management Plan has been activated for the first time since its inception five years ago.
On Friday, March 31,Amanda of Flying Fish Point Caravan Park, Flying Fish Point
Innisfail told GoSeeAustralia - The Flying Fish Point Caravan Park is open and operating, (sort of). We are still without power, but have hot showers, toilets and gas cookers.
We faired well considering the big wind. We lost three cabins, lots and lots of trees and our undercover area.
Pop in and visit us, it is the most beautiful and quiet spot. Flying Fish Point Caravan Park is a member of the popular Family Parks of Australia chain.
On Sunday, April 2, Flying Fish Point Caravan Park had the power on again, Amanda, told GoSeeAustralia and most of the fallen trees have been cleared. We have at least 20 sites that look like the cyclone has not hit them. They have beautiful green grass and palm trees for shade, she said.
Assistance for battered Innisfail includes Aussie initiatives like Operation Sunrise through Channel 7s Sunrise program - The Rays of Hope - 120 trades people volunteered their time and their skills - to help the people ofInnisfail get back on their feet after Cyclone Larry. Qantas provided a jet to fly the volunteers up from Brisbane. Read more about Operation Sunrise here plus click here to see how you can help.
Brad and Kaylene Richards of Googarra Beach Van Park Tully Heads NQ told GoSeeAustralia on Friday March 31 of the massive clean-up they areworking at It took an excavator four hours to remove the massive tree stumps, then a backhoe, a bobcat, four 10 ton trucks, eight men, four chain saws an entire day and 45 truck loads of over 100 ton of timber to clear my 100 site park.
I still need an entire day with a bobcat and a few truck loads of topsoil to get back to where I was two weeks ago. This is after I have cleared 40 percent of the trees in this park over the past two years. I have e-mailed my southern customers and informed them that they mostly like sunshine when they holiday and this is what they will get in NQ this year.
I still have scattered trees and the park will look lovely again in a month, but we are devastated mentally, physically, and financially. We need a good tourist season this year. PS I am now very skilled with a chainsaw, but I have grown to hate them.
On Tuesday, March 21 Wayne Hughes of First City Caravilla (Cairns, QLD) told GoSeeAustralia We are still here, I dont know how but we all survived here at First City Caravilla in Cairns.
We have lost a lot of large trees that had caused a lot of damage to fences, cabins and a sick looking boom gate but all is repairable and the important thing is no one got hurt.
The cyclones wind tore
trees from the ground
The power was restored here yesterday afternoon. We have to wait 2 to 3 days for an insurance assessor to turn up before we start the huge clean up, if anyone wants any mulch, Cairns will have plenty for you soon and no more large trees for us here as that is what has caused most of the damage. I personally dont want to experience that again, we were suppose to have 200 kmh winds and felt every bit like it.
In thelatest report from Wayne on Friday, March 31, 35 truck loads of trees and debris had been delivered to the local tip.
We are operational and can except customers so please keep sending the tourists, he said.
On Wednesday, March 22, Philip Jacka of Lake Placid Tourist Park (Lake Placid, QLD) says Hello to all, we are all safe and sound out here at Lake Placid Tourist Park. Thank you to all the fellow parks and our wonderful customers for their concerns.
Our park has had very minimal damage. A few branches down, a lot of leaves. Thankfully no one was hurt. Phones and power down for short period. We are up and functioning as normal.
Steve Irwin with Qld Tourism
Minister Margaret Keech
On Wednesday, March 22 Kuranda Rainforest Accommodation Park said Thanks for the concern. We sustained no damage other than a few trees and a lot of leaves which we have just about cleaned up now. We have now got power back on and are back to normal operations. We count ourselves very lucky, Soren.
On Thursday, March 23 Jenny Tonkin of Cairns Coconut Resort told GoSeeAustralia We are all fine here just some major unplanned landscaping and tree removal!!! No major structural damage and no injuries so we are all thankful. We are up and operational and ready for business.
On the same day Patrice Quentin Fletcher of BIG4 Atherton Woodlands Tourist Park told GoSeeAustralia -
We are happy to report thatwe did not suffer any structural damage to our Park and no-one was hurt.Unfortunately we have lost many of our beautiful trees and gardens.
Manyof the falling trees justmissed our cabins; it is quite unbelievable how they fell.
We are now infull clean up mode. We have been without power since 7am on Monday morning (March 20) so it is now getting a bit tiring and we have unplugged our fridge from the generator this afternoon so that we can check our emails!
On Saturday, March 25, Peter Buchanan from Lake Tinaroo HP, inland from Cairns told GoSeeAustralia We have just had power restored and we are looking very good compared to those less fortunate on the coast.
We sustained a lot of tree damage; no real damage to accommodation just TV aerials, main thing is no damage or loss of life.
We started the huge job of clearing tree debris immediately after the cyclone finished, and due to some very willing tourists staying with us we are 90% cleaned up and operating as normal (except for the pool which will be out for a week).
On Tuesday, March 28 John Dobosz, of White Rock Caravan Park told GoSeeAustralia
We at the White Rock Caravan Park are back in action, lost a lot of trees and some damage to the park cabins, but everything can be fixed. We are back on track and are taking bookings.
But Larry hit some parks harder - Managers Brad Kaye Richards closed Googarra Beach Caravan Park Tully Heads for a week from Monday, March 27 for the big clean up, there is no structural damage. They said the park has plenty of sites available for long term tourists as old permanent vans have been sold.
Brad and Kaye Richards said there are lots of unbelievable, but true, stories of the power of the cyclone. They said that among the best is the story about the strong brick home with garage. The garage roller door was sucked clean out and disappeared, as did many other doors, but when the car started to get sucked out of the garage people in the house hid under mattresses in the bathroom.
Tourism Minister Margaret Keech said Queensland's Tourism Industry Crisis Management Plan developed following September 11 and the Ansett collapse, was at level 2 the response/recovery phase. Tourism Queensland has activated a crisis response group that will assess the situation and determine how best to help affected operators.
A collaborative industry response is being developed to assist industry colleagues affected by the cyclone.
She told media that holiday-makers in Mackay, Port Douglas, the Whitsundays and Cairns, will not be affected by the aftermath of the cyclone.
She said most tourism centres had not been affected by the cyclone which packed winds of up to 290 kilometres an hour and had damaged buildings from Ingham to Cairns. She said the tourism industry in the far north region of the state was operating as usual. The minister urged tourists with bookings for far North Queensland to carry through with their holiday plans. They are ready to welcome you, she said.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2000 kilometres along the Queensland coast and only a very small area in the direct path of the storm - about 50 kilometres wide - was affected.
This newspaper picture
makes the point about Larry
While some people who have booked holidays to Cairns or Port Douglas might have some concerns about the local conditions, we can confidently recommend they take their holidays as planned, she said.
She has asked Tourism Queensland's international offices to 'sell' the 'business as usual' message to their local media. Offices are located in Auckland, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, London and Munich.
I am concerned that coverage of the devastation caused by Cyclone Larry may give the impression in some major international markets that Queensland is not the place to visit, she said.
For instance, I have heard from Singapore that media is reporting that the entire Great Barrier Reef has been decimated by the cyclone, when this is far from the truth.
While the cyclone has ravaged the area around Innisfail and caused damage on some tropical islands and on the Atherton Tablelands, the vast majority of north and far north Queensland is unaffected and open for tourism business.
Margaret Keech said hotels and motels and most tour operators in Cairns and Townsville were operating as normal. Most tour operators are back at work and operating much the same as they did before the cyclone, she said.
The force of the storm cut a narrow corridor of destruction through the mainly agricultural region of Innisfail and its surrounds, leaving Cairns and Port Douglas largely untouched.
Margaret Keech said the majority of tourism operators were largely unaffected by the cyclone, or were resuming operations. The message I have for anyone considering coming to Queensland is that we are still open for tourism business.
While parts of the far north are facing huge clean-ups, the industry is resilient and has proven in the past that it can quickly climb back after devastating events. The vast majority of Queensland is unaffected by the cyclone and would welcome visitors.
A visit to Tropical North Queensland by one of the United Kingdom's largest Australian tour operators is a vote of confidence in the region, Margaret Keech says. She said the visit confirmed that the company, Travelmood, was still keen to do business in the wake of Cyclone Larry.
The departure of the company's three-week training tour of Australasia, which includes a week in Tropical North Queensland, is a huge vote of confidence in the region, she said.
Travelmood is one of the UK's largest tour operators to Australia and for them to go ahead with plans for a major tour is a fantastic illustration of the fact that Queensland's Tropical North is still very much open for business. Twelve influential staff will be in the Tropical North to see first-hand what the region has to offer she said.
With the region likely to suffer economically as a result of the destruction of the banana and sugarcane crops, Ms Keech said tourists could help Queensland by going through with their holiday plans. If you have any concerns, ring your travel agent or the property where you booked accommodation, she said.
Dr Geoff Love, director of meteorology at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says Larry was on a par with Cyclone Tracey, which devastated Darwin in 1974.The BOM categorises cyclones from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe. Love says Larry was probably high category 4, probably not quite 5.
Insurance losses from Cyclone Larry have hit the $250 million mark, the Insurance Disaster Response Organisation (IDRO) says. IDRO Queensland co-ordinator Graham Jones says insurers had reported that more than 12,500 claims had been received.
Cyclone Larry shredded cane crops worth $200 million, wiping out 10 per cent of Australia's sugar production for the season. The cyclone tore through one of Australia's biggest cane growing regions in north Queensland, destroying crops which would have produced an estimated 500,000 tonnes of sugar. The peak farmers' group, Canegrowers, said the storm had affected a big area from south of Cairns through to Ingham. Growers in Innisfail, Tully and Babinda bore the brunt of the cyclone, with widespread crop damage just three months before harvest.