Vale John ‘Marto’ Martin

On Monday 31st October, we lost local tourism and hospitality legend, the much loved John ‘Marto’ Martin. Marto and his beloved wife, Genevieve, founded Ferns Hideaway Resort, selling the business after 40 years and retiring in February this year.

Leaving a huge hole in many hearts, this true gentleman and wonderful musician passionately touched many with his magical and joyous energy.  

Marto and his wife Genevieve came to Rockhampton on their honeymoon in 1977…and never left. Marto and his nurse wife Gen, came from wheat and wool properties in Victoria, and were adamant they wanted a block of land with permanent water.  A chance encounter with a policeman for speeding saw Marto tell the cop he was looking to buy some land and not only was his speeding fine waived, but the police officer recommended a real estate agent who knew of a place at Byfield.

In an interview years later, Marto fondly recalled “there were no roads in, we had to use a map and a compass to find the block.  We found the beach where the canoes are today, skinny-dipped across the creek and sat on a log and said, ‘we could do something with this place’.”  

Pioneer Cabin was the first cabin to be built in 1981. Whilst working full time in the mines, Marto and Gen were also working hard establishing their dream business on the property. The next decade was dedicated to building five cabins from yellow stringybark and bloodwood on the property in preparation for the opening of Ferns Hideaway Resort in 1990.

During that time Marto also played gigs at the The Criterion Hotel in Rockhampton every Friday night where he attracted a loyal fan base who followed him to Ferns Hideaway.

They raised their two children Anna and Jess at Ferns Hideaway and have been a much loved family at Byfield and beyond.

Marto and Gen sold their love nest late in 2021 to spend more time with their children and grandchildren. 

Martos legacy includes the decades of happy memories he created for so many guests to this very special place in the rainforest every Saturday night over dinner at the Ferns Hideaway Resort restaurant.

Having played in bands all around Queensland in the 70s and 80s, performing on guitar and vocals, Marto once said “You never know who is going to be in the audience.”

“One night I had a really great bloke up singing and I told him he was really good; he should do this for a living. I later found out it was Pete Murray!”

Ferns Hideaway Resort was a community within the community, built by love and surrounded with the warmth and comfort of local legend Marto’s infectious smile, cheerful enthusiasm, and of course, his music.

In his retirement, having just celebrated his 70th birthday in October, Marto continued to enjoy performing at local venues, including Waterline Restaurant and RSL Yeppoon, with a recent event at the Yeppoon Lions Tropical Pine Fest Cocktail Party at the Keppel Bay Marina.

Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll shared admiration of her dear friend Marto, who will be missed enormously by the entire tourism industry.

“Marto was a one of a kind, a storyteller through his music and an absolute professional and gentle soul in all aspects of his life,” Mary said.

“He was full of pride for Byfield and the Capricorn Coast, and we were privileged to have shared so many lasting memories.”

“Our love is wrapping around Gen, Anna and Jess during this difficult time,” Mary said.

During COVID lockdowns, Marto recorded a beautiful rendition of Cat Steven’s Moonshadow. Watch here –

The song, written about finding hope in any situation, reminds us to be present and joyful and treasure every moment in life as rich and unique.

Thank you for the endless memories, Marto…. you will be truly missed. Marto’s service will be held at 10am on Saturday 12th November, at the Baptist Church Rockhampton.

In September 2020, we hosted Ch 9’s The Today Show live weather crosses from Ferns Hideaway Resort – watch here:

In October 2021, we featured Marto and Gen on channel nine’s “My Way”  – read more:

Episode 1 of My Way Series 3 (featuring Marto and Gen from Ferns Hideaway Resort) is available here – My Way Season 3 Ep 1 Episode 1, Watch TV Online (

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