Tropical Businesses get Back on Track

Published: May 16, 2011

As many grey nomads begin their annual northward odyssey, the flood-ravaged tourist destinations of Queensland are desperately trying to make sure everyone knows it is “business as usual”

However, given the enormity and the scale of the flooding, it is inevitable there will be some commercial casualties along the way. Sadly, some of the businesses along the magical Bloomfield Track between Cape Tribulation and Cooktown look set for a challenging start to the season.

The Bloomfield River causeway on the Cape Tribulation Rd was washed out as a result of the heavy rainfall that followed cyclone Yasi in February, and it has been closed to traffic ever since.

There were even fears that the iconic Lion’s Den Hotel at Helenvale and other businesses including many tour operators would have to close their doors unless immediate action was taken.

Cairns Regional Council, however, has just announced that it will be able to begin work on restoring the Bloomfield River crossing now that the 10 tonne load limit between Bloomfield and the Peninsula Developmental Rd has been lifted.

Construction will start pretty much immediately and will take approximately six to eight weeks to complete, weather-permitting.

During construction a rock crossing will be built to allow limited four-wheel-drive vehicle access across the river, with crossing times to be advertised by council. The passenger-only ferry service will continue to operate.

The news will come as massive relief to the Cooktown Chamber of Commerce which had expressed its “extreme concern” at the lack of communication and urgency over reopening the route.

“For Cooktown businesses, they only get a chance to make money six or seven months of the year so they can’t afford to miss out,” the President of the Cooktown Chamber of Commerce, Greg Whittaker, told the Cairns Post.

Maryanne Jacques from Cairns-based Adventure North Australia in Cairns told the paper she had lost 90 per cent of her business and $100,000 in the “horrific” time since the closure.

The Bloomfield Track is billed as one of the great driving experiences of Tropical North Queensland, as the rainforest track winds along the coastline, soaring up steep mountain passes, and lunging earthwards to reveal secluded beaches.

Just north of Cape Tribulation the road becomes unsealed and continues for 5 km to Emmagen Creek. The Bloomfield Track then becomes 4WD only, as it continues north for 28 kilometres to the Bloomfield River and onto Cooktown (another 63 km).

During the wet season (February to May) the rivers may flood after heavy rainstorms and the causeways become impassable for several hours on the Cape Tribulation road. Each causeway has a depth metre marker to indicate how much water is flowing over the causeway. In a normal vehicle, you will need to wait until the water drops to 0.2 metres before attempting to cross.

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