The local tourism industry is getting behind a campaign to reopen Duck Creek Road, citing impacts not only on tourists but also on the local workforce which relies on tourism jobs.
Duck Creek Road has been closed since Cyclone Debbie in 2017, cutting off direct access to O’Reilly’s from the Kerry Valley and quadrupling the time it takes to get there, from 30 minutes to two hours.
Destination Scenic Rim Management Committee Member Nathan Overell, whose family owns Worendo Cottages in the Lost World, said it was a missed opportunity.
“What could be a totally iconic drive has been non-existent for the last five years. Reopening Duck Creek Road could spread those tourists across the rest of the region, and we’re missing that,” he said.
“To have people be able to easily travel up and use the network in 30 minutes rather than two hours via Canungra, will mean their stay here track will be longer, and it’ll add value to everything over this side.”
Mr Overell said the ongoing closure was exacerbating local workforce issues.
“With the labour shortages at the moment, we’re all understaffed, everything from housekeeping staff right through to management and as it is we’re job sharing with other businesses to get the staff we need,” he said.
“Having Duck Creek Road open would just be another avenue, if people could work up there and down here, to get the hours they need. It would be really advantageous all-round.”
Duck Creek Road advocates Jodie O’Reilly and Sally Undery said it was a major missing link in the local road network.
“I think Beaudesert, Kerry, Lamington and Christmas Creek are missing out economically on that traffic coming back down through the valley. Instead, they’re heading back through Canungra and down the coast highway,” Jodie said.
Sally said it was not ideal for tourism.
“We purport to be Scenic Rim but currently you can’t drive around the mountains of Scenic Rim – you have to come back into Beaudesert and across the middle of Scenic Rim, whereas you could drive up from Canungra, down Duck Creek, around Christmas Creek, over to Innisplain Rathdowney and then link up with Boonah. It’s a really big missing link and causes all the traffic to drive straight across and miss us,” she said.