An aerial shot of Palm Bay Resort one year on from Cycloen Debbie.
An aerial shot of Palm Bay Resort one year on from Cycloen Debbie.

Palm Bay Resort reflects on Cyclone Debbie

EVERY year at this time, the co-owner of Palm Bay Resort gets "nervous”.

A year on from Cyclone Debbie, Helen Scott, from one of the only two island resorts operating in the Whitsundays post-cyclone, says she is constantly checking the weather bureau's cyclone watch.

"You get very nervous at this time of year during the cyclone season,” she said.

Palm Bay Resort was hit hard by cyclonic winds reaching 260km/h on March28 last year.

The resort received help in the form of mainland volunteers who answered a call for help on Facebook.

The resort was open for business two weeks later.

"It was sheer guts and determination and blood, sweat and tears,” she said.

Looking toward Long Island Sound from Palm Bay Resort, Long Island.
Looking toward Long Island Sound from Palm Bay Resort, Long Island.

"We had to replace fencing and tennis court fencing and obviously all the garden was down, and I spent $10,000 with the electrician because water got into everything.

"And a lot of gutters came down - but we were really lucky structurally.”

The history of the resort dates back to the 1950s when it faced east with a view of the Whitsunday Passage.

The eastern-facing resort was wiped out by a cyclone and it was decided to position the resort on the western and protected side of the island.

Seventeen years ago the resort was taken over by its current owners and they upgraded all the buildings to a Category 5 rating in 2005 when Peppers took over management.

After Cyclone Yasi hit in 2011, Peppers pulled out and Palm Bay Resort was closed for three years.

Since Cyclone Debbie the resort is enjoying low vacancy rates and business is back to where it was before the cyclone hit last year.

The Palm Bay Resort pool 12 months after TC Debbie tore through the resport.
The Palm Bay Resort pool 12 months after TC Debbie tore through the resport.

The forced hiatus of Daydream Island and Hayman Islands in the cyclone's aftermath has improved visitation to the island, with Hamilton Island the Palm Bay Resort's only competition.

One year on from Cyclone Debbie, Ms Scott said a much better cyclone plan was now in place.

"(However) it's very fresh in your mind how it all went, even now on the one-year anniversary.

"The aftermath was horrific ... and you do get nervous in the back of your mind and you wonder what would happen if another one came through and how you would pick yourself back up again.

"It was a massive effort to get going again. We have got a small team but we all pulled together and did all the physical labour to clean it all up,” Ms Scott said.


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