From Sandstone Wilderness to the Southern Great Barrier Reef – lending a lockdown lifeboat

While many of us fantasise spending weeks on a remote island with limited contact to the ‘real’ world, surrounded by white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and ending each day enjoying a magical sunset, a group of Carnarvon Gorge tourism professionals discovered dreams sometimes do become reality, as the power of humankind took an oath to care and support its neighbours.

When members of the Takarakka Bush Resort team, Amanda, Phil, Christine and Anita suddenly found themselves in need of emergency accommodation following closure of the business due to COVID-19, and with no other fixed permanent addresses to return to, along with border closures and travel bans – anxiety spread throughout the Taka camp, until an olive branch was extended…

After calling for industry advice, former Manager of Takarakka Bush Resort, Amanda Porter said “I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll, who swiftly reached out to the generosity of her Southern Great Barrier Reef members. We are truly heartened by the entire tourism family who’ve held out arms of strength and support in a time when everyone is feeling the hurt.”

Immediately after hearing their Sandstone Wilderness members were without a place to stay, Capricorn Enterprise coordinated the team’s first night of emergency accommodation at Salt Yeppoon with General Manager Dani Dunne going out of her way to ensure the guests were comfortable, and kindly providing secured parking for their vehicles and belongings for a month.

The following day, Managers of Pumpkin Island, Wayne and Laureth Rumble fired up the Pumpkin Xpress Ferry and set ashore to retrieve the bushland castaways, offering them a welcome haven to shelter the COVID-19 storm.

With the pristine, eco-friendly island feeling somewhat abandoned following sudden travel restrictions which saw current visitors return home and future bookings cancelled for the foreseeable future, it was the perfect opportunity to offer some isolation indulgence for the Taka crew.

Amanda and her team are incredibly thankful for the kindness they have received from their tourism colleagues. “Despite the current crisis impacting the world, this has been social distancing at its best. We feel so blessed to escape to this stunning place and happy for the opportunity to repay Wayne and Laureth’s generosity.” said Amanda.

During their stay on Pumpkin Island, the former Taka Team members have been helping preserve the island by keeping the gardens in order and assisting with maintenance tasks. In addition, they’ve been working on marketing projects, ensuring the business is ready to roll out the ‘welcome mat’ once restrictions are lifted.

“It has been our absolute pleasure to welcome our new friends and show a better side to this global pandemic,” said Laureth. “It’s a win-win for both of us and we certainly appreciate the help in keeping the island up to scratch and working with like-minded operators on marketing strategies and activities has been truly valuable.”

CEO of Capricorn Enterprise, Mary Carroll has been in awe of our local operators who have banded together and developed a heightened sense of community throughout the crisis.

“Seeing our members connecting with and supporting each other through these tough times is a powerful thing,” said Mary. “When we feel out of control, as I am sure many of our businesses are, the one thing we can control is how we react to each other. Staying connected and kind to each other during this time is crucial.”

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