Rebuilt resorts prepare for Debbie’s wrath

Queensland’s rebuilt tropical resorts and their guests are steeling themselves for an uncertain night as Cyclone Debbie bears down on the Whitsundays.


Hit hard by Cyclone Yasi six years ago, plush resorts in the Whitsundays are optimistic the damage won’t be so bad when the category four Debbie thunders through on Tuesday morning.

Hayman Island Resort, the closest to Debbie’s projected path, is set to go into lockdown as part of its cyclone management plan from 5pm on Monday until midday on Tuesday.

Approximately 30 guests staying at the resort have been moved to its Hayman Wing where they will spend the night.

Both Hayman Island and Hamilton Island sustained severe damage during the category 5 Yasi in February 2011, with Hayman Island Resort closing for five months for restoration works.

A staff member who did not wish to be identified told AAP hopes were high Debbie won’t be as destructive as Yasi.

“We’re used to this sort of catastrophe, we know what to expect,” the staffer said.

“We’re quite confident we’ll be okay.”

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said he was confident guests and residents at the larger Hamilton Island were also in safe hands.

“I had contact with the CEO of Hamilton island Glenn Bourke yesterday. He assures me everything’s right,” Mr Costigan said on Monday.

“They’ve stuck to their script which has served them well.”

Nearby Daydream Island is also activating its cyclone policies and procedures.

“All guests have been advised to remain in their rooms or the main atrium area – which are cyclone rated – for the next 24 to 36 hours depending on the path of the cyclone,” a statement from the resort said.

The Whitsunday region is worth $574m in tourist spend annually with over 600,000 visitors to the region.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said while the cyclone wasn’t ideal from a tourism perspective, the region had shown its capability and resilience to deal with such events.

“The infrastructure is built for tropical storms and it’s well set up for that,” Mr Gschwind told AAP.

“There’s always the possibility of damage being sustained.

“The people will be well looked after … if you have to live through a cyclone, you probably want to be in Queensland.”