While Cyclone Debbie has come and gone the Whitsunday islands continue to stand strong.
While Cyclone Debbie has come and gone the Whitsunday islands continue to stand strong. GSL Aviation

REVEALED: The recovery of the Whitsunday island paradises

UPDATE 07/04: IN THE clean-up effort, about 1500 staff and residents helped restore Hamilton Island, however, no defence force personnel were involved.

INITIAL: THE WHITSUNDAY islands received the brunt of the force from Cyclone Debbie, with winds up to 260kmh tearing through the tourist hot-spot.

After a concerted effort and assistance from the Australian Defence Force, Hamilton Island has confirmed it would reopen for guests Saturday, but so far the other island paradises have not been so lucky.

With extensive damage to vegetation and infrastructure, Hayman Island, Daydream Island, Long Island and Keswick Island each face their own challenges in their efforts.

Hayman Island

While remaining tight-lipped about the extent of the damage, a spokesperson from One&Only Resort said they will remain closed until further notice.

Hayman Island will not reveal when they hope to reopen.
Hayman Island will not reveal when they hope to reopen. Contributed

A message on the resort's website reads "Tropical Cyclone Debbie has crossed the Whitsundays. All guests have safely departed the island and all staff are safe in residence.

"One&Only Hayman Island is currently assessing the impact of the storm on the resort.

"Please note that no reservations are currently being accepted.”

A message posted on its Facebook account on Tuesday thanked its staff for their efforts both during and after Cyclone Debbie.

Daydream Island

While attracting controversy after tourists on the island during the cyclone prepare to submit a formal complaint, the resort planned to start accepting guests by the end of April.

About 30 staff remained on the island immediately after the storm to help with restoration efforts, with more brought on and off the island daily.

A resort spokesperson confirmed there had been extensive damage to vegetation across the island with many uprooted trees.

Jetties and pontoons also sustained significant impacts, while the roof of the rejuvenation spa was lifted and the premises suffered water damage.

Water damage was also recorded at Mermaid's restaurant, the main atrium and accommodation wings.

A section of the boardwalk was lifted away, as well as two of the three iconic mermaid statues.

Two of the three iconic Daydream Island mermaids were swept away during the storm.
Two of the three iconic Daydream Island mermaids were swept away during the storm. Dane Lillingstone

The spokesperson said the full extent of the damage is still being assessed and he expected more issues to arise as they clear away debris.

He said April 30 is the earliest the resort would reopen, but that could be extended if necessary.

Long Island

The lesser known island paradise is in full recovery mode as Palm Bay Resort staff work to clear the damage left by the storms.

While initially hoping to be open by Easter, general manager Caroline Murray stopped short of confirming a date due to more problems arising as they clear debris.

"We've got nine people trying to restore the island resort,” Ms Murray said.

"The buildings are generally fine with only minor fixes needed, but there are lots of big fallen trees everywhere.

"We could open the accommodation (Saturday), but the rest of the island needs to be restored before we can start accepting guests.”

Keswick Island

Despite being located slightly south of the centre of Cyclone Debbie, the island off the coast of Mackay still received almost a week of intense winds starting at 70kmh before reaching 250kmh at its highest.

Waves also lashed major parts of the island with tidal surges up to 1.2m above high tide.

Almost every part of the island's natural environment was impacted in some way, including extensive tree damage, landslips and rock slips.

Keswick Island received extensive damage, but owners will be paying for the clean up efforts themselves.
Keswick Island received extensive damage, but owners will be paying for the clean up efforts themselves. Cheryl Eagers

Infrastructure was also affected as damage was recorded at the jetty, day trip areas and glamping areas.

Similar to Hayman Island, Keswick's islands operations officer Brett Curd wouldn't commit to a date for reopening and said they would remain closed "until we get it done”.

"We've got eight staff helping with recovery and have spent the last five days just clearing trees,” Mr Curd said.

"The owners came up to survey the damage and decided to bear the costs themselves rather than making an insurance claim.”

He said premiums for islands are "huge”, so they would wait for a situation when the damage was more severe.


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