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31 May 2016: A Dream Build

31 May 2016

Mount Quincan Crater Retreat is the perfect destination for a secluded getaway. Hidden in lush rainforest on the slopes of an extinct volcano on the Atherton Tablelands, the property is a sanctuary for a unique variety of wildlife including the Lumholtz Tree-Kangaroo.

Behind this picture perfect location lies a heartwarming story of a family who overcame adversity to build, and then rebuild, their dream.

In 1989, Kerry and Barbara Kehoe and their young family purchased 150 acres of unimproved grazing land near Yungaburra on the Atherton Tablelands.

Whilst living and working in Cairns, the Kehoes spent most of their spare time establishing the property - building access roads, fencing and establishing a water supply.  In 1998 they opened Mt Quincan Crater Retreat on the property, consisting of six pole treehouses exclusively for couples. The Retreat was an instant success enabling the Kehoes to service the debt they had incurred to develop their business.

The years that followed saw the Kehoes accomplish their dream to live at the Retreat full-time. Sadly, in the early hours of Monday 20 March 2006, Mount Quincan Crater Retreat was devastated by Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry.  Packing winds of up to 180 miles per hour, the maximum-category five cyclone ripped through the property leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.  The once lush rainforest was stripped bare. Trees lay uprooted and extensive damage was caused to the reception building, roads, fences and farm sheds.

For Kerry and Barbara, this meant an agonising decision - either count their losses and give up on their dream, or pick up the pieces and rebuild their business.
“The weeks following Larry were to say the least, depressing. This was to be our retirement home,” Kerry said.

“There was no power for over two weeks and of course cancelled bookings meant no income.  That was our main problem, to service loans and to carry out urgent repairs.”

With the help of a low interest loan accessed through QRAA, the Kehoes began the long road to recovery and committed to rebuilding Mount Quincan Crater Retreat.
“QRAA not only assisted us financially but morally supported us when we were down. The loan went a long way to replacing fencing, repairing sheds and access roads. It certainly accelerated the recovery process.“We

were, as it turned out, very fortunate – there were a lot of cases far, far worse than ours. Our QRAA Regional Client Liaison Officer, Sam Spina – who was based on the coast was inundated with cases but still found time to personally assist us.”

The property reopened to the public in June 2006.

When their property was hit with flooding two years later, the Kehoes didn’t hesitate, and again turned to QRAA for support.

“QRAA was again a magnificent help with a grant following the January / February 2008 floods. This went towards repairing and replacing farm and Retreat access roads. Once again Sam Spina’s [QRAA Client Liaison Officer] assistance in acquiring this grant was much appreciated.”

“Thankfully these were the only two major setbacks from nature we have experienced and again thankfully QRAA was there for both.”

Kerry and Barbara’s story is just one of thousands of how people overcame the devastation of Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry.

QRAA administers financial assistance to disaster affected primary producers, businesses and non-profit organisations under the joint Commonwealth / Queensland Government funded Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

QRAA assisted 1,469 primary producers and small business owners affected by the cyclone with over $133 million in loans and grants. A further $46.9 million was allocated to 4,052 primary producers and small businesses Queensland-wide after the January / February 2008 floods.

Since the devastation of Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Mount Quincan Crater Retreat has secured four tourism awards.  The Kehoes now have a new dream to spend more time with their 15 grandchildren.

For more information on current assistance available through QRAA, Freecall 1800 623 946 or visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au

Last updated
10 May 2017