Absolute Airlie is starting up its rainforest walking tours again this Saturday. Photo by Absolute Airlie.
Absolute Airlie is starting up its rainforest walking tours again this Saturday. Photo by Absolute Airlie.

Light at the end of the tunnel getting closer

RESTRICTIONS will ease still further this weekend with Stage One of the government’s three-stage plan being activated.

From midnight on Friday, people will be able to have gatherings of up to 10 people, including outdoors in parks and National Parks, and recreational travel is now allowed up to 150kms from home.

The easing has had various impacts on different businesses in the Whitsundays, with many restaurants saying it is still not viable for them to open their doors as long as the 10-person maximum limit is imposed.

One business that is grasping at the ray of hope being offered is Absolute Airlie, who do nature-based guided walks in the rainforest.

The business is starting tours again from this Saturday morning, with bookings now being taken.

“Yes, it’s a good thing,” co-owner Alice Walsgott, who owns the business with husband Gus, said.

“We are not expecting big things but we can do something.

“Normally, we rely on the international market but we are changing the products and have locals discounts that we are putting out.

“People can do a private tour for up to nine people, plus the guide – we are doing 50 per cent off private tours.

“Social distancing is something we have always done and we have always only had small group tours, so we are the perfect product at the moment.”

Mrs Walsgott said the tours were popular for families because of the educational element.

“Kids love being out there,” she said.

“We want to show people the value in having guides point things out – the educational aspect - and being able to relax and have someone take care of you, and of course the Health & Safety aspect.

“We are putting out a few campaigns including reviews from locals. It will be an opportunity to increase local awareness of what we do.”

Mrs Walsgott said all the guides were local, so people would be supporting local jobs.

“We are trying to keep them employed - we are not even doing it to make money at the moment – but we are doing something, rather than nothing.

“It will be nice for locals too to do something different in their home region. It’s perfect weather for walking at the moment and, after the rain, the canopy’s looking amazing – lush and green – and there are lots of butterflies and birds around.”

For more information visit https://www.absoluteairlie.com.au/

Mick Underwood, from Reel Addiction Sport Fishing Charters, however, said the easing of restrictions on Saturday would not help his business.

“We still have to do the social distancing – that’s the problem I have on a six-metre boat,” he said.

“So, to keep things legal, I still can’t carry more than two people.”

Mr Underwood said the only way to keep going at the moment with less people, was to put his prices up, which would be a temporary measure until things got back to normal.

“I’m aiming to get up and running in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“I will start advertising next week – just small numbers and I will have to increase the price significantly, which means it wouldn’t be bottom fishing, it would be lure fishing and fly fishing.

“That’s all we can do at the moment. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting a little bit closer.”


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