Kimberley tour operators concerned for mass cancellations amid floods

Kimberley tour operators concerned for mass cancellations amid floods

Tourism operators in the Kimberley have asked travellers not to cancel their bookings amid severe weather conditions plaguing the area.

Towns in the area have been inaccessible due to record breaking floods. Roads and flights in and out of the area have been primarily used by emergency service workers.

This follows strict COVID rules isolating Western Australia from the rest of the country, greatly hindering the local tourism market.

National parks and Kimberley businesses have recorded over the past year, with many returning to Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park. While staff at the park packed up its main infrastructure before the wet season, the 16-metre floods destroyed much of the roads into the park and put most of it underwater.

Senior ranger Ian Cooksey told the ABC that the damage has not yet been thoroughly analysed, but it was looking severe.

“The gazebo doesn’t exist anymore, the river level got about five meters above the roof height,” he said.

Local tourism operator Jimmy Dillon Andrews was hopeful that tourists would return to the region once it was back up and running. Andrews said the unique history and array of culture in the area could not be found anywhere but the central Kimberley.

“People still want to come and hear about Jandamarra,” he said.

Jandamarra was a local warrior who fought against colonisation. His story played a vital role in creating the stories behind the popular tourist destinations of the area.

“We would like tourists to still come up,” he said.

“Tourism is a good project for people in the central Kimberley … tourism is the way of the future.

“I’ve been here for a long time — over 20 years — and I know it really supports remote communities and builds a partnership between [large tour operators] and Aboriginal people.”

Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said he had gotten reports of tourists cancelling their plans due to the floods.

“We’re trying to reach out particularly to Western Australians who hopefully can discern the difference between Fitzroy Crossing and Kununurra, for example,” he said.

“Please don’t write off the entire Kimberley — go ahead with your plans, maybe alter your plans.

“But please wait and see.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced disaster relief funding for businesses impacted by the floods.

“[The allowance] is financial support if you’ve lost income as a direct result of the floods,” he said.

“The amount for this allowance depends on the number of days and hours that you normally work.”

Featured Image: Flooded Kimberley region (Twitter/nicolejohno) 

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