Tourists white water rafting on the Tully River in North Queensland
The rains brought by Cyclone Jasper have created ideal conditions for rafting on the Tully River. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • tourism

Tourist numbers recovering after cyclone, operators say

Rex Martinich January 6, 2024

The wave of visitors cancelling far north Queensland holidays in the wake of Cyclone Jasper has ended according to tourism operators, with  customers enjoying a week of sunny weather.

Thursday was a busy afternoon for Cairns Adventure Group white water rafting guide Paul Porteous as he took an extra three boats for a run down the Tully River, about 240 kilometres north of Townsville.

The rains brought by the cyclone had filled the Kareeya Hydro reservoir, leading to the dam releasing the maximum amount of water and creating ideal conditions for river rapids.

Tourists white water rafting on the Tully River in Qld
 Far north Qld tourist operators say they’re busy again after Cyclone Jasper led to cancellations. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

“Our company cancelled a couple of days when the cyclone hit and there was a week of uncertainty afterwards and our customers were probably in the same boat,” Mr Porteous said.

He said Tully River still had its two biggest months for average rainfall ahead in the first half of 2024.

“We’re very busy, we have got a lot of people up here and the weather is hot and amazing right now so water sports are high on people’s agendas.”

About 88 per cent of far north Queensland’s tourist infrastructure is functioning, according to the state government, but the Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns remains closed, adding an hour of travel time to Port Douglas.

Exemplar Coaches business development manager Geoff Sullivan said everyone wanted the road back open but the alternative route did give visitors a different view of the tablelands and rainforests.

“People are adapting to it quite well. The only pushback we have had is when passengers arrive at the (Cairns) airport without being told beforehand,” Mr Sullivan said.

This AAP article was made possible with the support of Tourism and Events Queensland.