Warren O'Leary from Rainforest Ranch in Byfield says a lot is of assistance is required from all tiers of government to get businesses back on their feet after Cyclone Marcia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Warren O'Leary from Rainforest Ranch in Byfield says a lot is of assistance is required from all tiers of government to get businesses back on their feet after Cyclone Marcia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

Sunday session planned to help Marcia recovery for Ranch

IT'S been a huge blow to the Capricorn Coast in the wake of Cyclone Marcia, but the affects on the likes of Rainforest Ranch owner Warren O'Leary will be felt for months to come.

But he and many other Byfield businesses are already bouncing back and are relying on the support of the community to get them back on their feet.

Warren is holding a Sunday session this weekend, hoping to re-open the grounds in coming weeks.

With a clean-up bill of about $100,000, not including the loss of income at his Byfield venue, Warren O'Leary wants Category D assistance for him and his town.

The Rainforest Ranch owner spoke to the Capricorn Coast Mirror last week, showing us the damage Cyclone Marcia had caused on his property, which once had an abundance of tall tree canopies.

Now, it's been reduced to a heap of bare and branchless trees still standing among the hundreds fallen, which will take months to clear.

A cabin at Rainforest Retreat in Byfield, which took owners Jeanie and Warren O'Leary weeks to clear a path to after the cyclone. Photo Rachael Conaghan/The Rural Weekly
A cabin at Rainforest Retreat in Byfield, which took owners Jeanie and Warren O'Leary weeks to clear a path to after the cyclone. Photo Rachael Conaghan/The Rural Weekly Rachael Conaghan

Warren and his wife Jean, who use their venue for weddings and events with six cabins on site, have had to cancel four weddings booked this year.

"Plus we've got about 20 people who've been inquiring and inspecting the place as well, so we may have lost all of those clients as well," Warren said.

"On average a wedding's about $5000 to $10,000 and then our cabins which are available every week.

"So that's quite a loss of income for us."

Meeting with politicians Michelle Landry and Matt Canavan last week, along with several business owners in Byfield, Warren said there was too much red tape to get cyclone assistance.

"We're pushing for Category D assistance, it's definitely needed up here," he said. "We're not sure what our insurance is going to cover. But this is going to be a huge job to clean up."

Luckily there was no major damage to any of Warren's cabins or wedding venue but his main aim is to re-open as soon as possible.

"People aren't inquiring now, it's the same for a lot of businesses up here, they think we're all still closed," Warren said.

"A lot of them could fold because of this. Our equity is all used up in our mortgages so even if we sell, we're still not going to get enough.

"But I'm hoping everything will be operational again in the next three weeks.

"We're planning to have a Sunday session out here with a live band and get some buses up here."

Getting the northern link strategic road up and running as soon as possible would be the best thing for Byfield, Warren said.

DAY TRIPS

Little Johnny's Tours will be heading up to Rainforest Ranch on Sunday, departing from Yeppoon's old railway station at 11.30am, returning about 4pm.

RSVP by Friday, phone Rainforest Ranch on 4935 1555 to book.



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