ALL ABOARD: Because of shallow water, this shallow-bottomed boat ferried passengers out to the jet boat which would then take them to Lady Musgrave Island.
ALL ABOARD: Because of shallow water, this shallow-bottomed boat ferried passengers out to the jet boat which would then take them to Lady Musgrave Island. Julia Bartrim

Perfect weather for Lady Musgrave launch

EVERYTHING finally fell into place yesterday for the official reopening of Lady Musgrave Cruises at Seventeen Seventy.

Given the recent rain and localised flooding, the owners of the embattled business were worried about the weather.

Luckily, Friday dawned sunny with a mild wind between 10-15 knots.

Carolyn Clayton, one of the managing directors, said it was a relief this time when the Bureau of Meteorology got it wrong.

"So much for the 90 per cent isolated showers,” she laughed.

Twenty-two passengers hopped onto a shallow-bottomed ferry boat at about 8am yesterday.

Because of the shallow water, the boat was required to ferry passengers out to the Discovery a jet boat with a 50 seat capacity.

Sheila Ruefencht, a Swiss tourist was looking forward to the cruise with her family of four.

"We'll be leaving (Australia) in about two weeks, she said, adding it was her family's first experience of the Great Barrier Reef. "We want to see sharks and manta rays.”

The family-run business was devastated after an on-board fire resulted in the sinking of one of their catamarans just half-an-hour from shore in May 2016.

The resulting ongoing dispute with the insurance provider saw the company's operations placed on hold.

Ms Clayton said LMC had spent about $140,000 refurbishing the Discovery jet boat.

She said at their peak before the fire the business used to take about 150 people per day out on the reef and "during school holidays we used to take 270 people out (per day)”.

"That number was increasing, we just do not have enough marine facilities in this community,” she said.

Ms Clayton said Seventeen Seventy was an ideal location for cruises to the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.

"The destination speaks for itself and having that short distance by sea to Lady Musgrave Island is a value-add,” she said. "It's less travelling by sea for visitors, (after) an hour-and-a-half (on-board) you start feeling woozy.

"As soon as you see that island, you perk up and before you know it you're in calm waters and in a lagoon.”

Ms Clayton said the company was looking at purchasing snorkelling scooters - motorised individual devices snorkellers hold onto - to make the cruises that much more fun.

The reopening of LMC was not just a boon for the company, it's a boon for the whole town.

Ms Clayton said she'd been overwhelmed by the community response.

"I had no idea the impact our service was having on the town until it stopped, and I don't think the township did either,” she said.

Simon Della Santa opened Lagoons 1770 Resort & Spa almost three years ago.

"I can safely say it's fantastic (LMC) is up and running,” he said.

"We need more consistent access to the reef.”

Mr Della Santa said he had expected his business to grow by about 10 per cent in its second year but when LMC was forced to close down his bookings went backwards.

Elvis Ferinac owner/operator of family-run business 1770 Getaway said he couldn't be more happy for the Claytons.

He said he hoped the reopening was the start of bigger things to come.

"It was a huge hit when Lady Musgrave stopped,” he said.

Since the fire, a new operator started tours to Lady Musgrave, but not at the capacity of LMC.

"It's very exciting to see additional capacity,” Mr Ferinac said.

Lyndal Calman said in her time at PRD Nationwide Agnes Water she'd found "people just didn't want to come here if they couldn't go out to Lady Musgrave”.

"It's really awesome that they've re-opened the business from Captain Cook Drive ... so (it's) the first thing people see,” she said.



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