Highway One: Cardwell’s recovery

By Catherine Lawson 7 November 2013
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It’s been over a year since the devastating Cyclone Yasi struck, but Cardwell is on the way to recovery.

Catherine Lawson and David Bristow, along with baby Maya, are doing a lap of Highway One, the road that circles Australia. 

AFTER ENDURING AUSTRALIA’S most powerful tropical cyclone for more than 90 years, Cardwell is a town on the mend. Category-5-rated Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast north of Cardwell in the early hours of 3 February 2011, unleashing devastating winds gusting at 285kph and a powerful 5.33m storm surge.

Buckling the Bruce Highway that passes between the town and its seafront, Yasi destroyed homes and businesses, and ripped apart nearby Hinchinbrook Marina, lifting 50ft yachts onto the lawns of waterfront villas.

Our own catamaran, anchored on Hinchinbrook Island’s southern tip, miraculously survived the cyclone, its anchor unmoved by floodwaters that raised the level of the Herbert River 10m.

Cardwell always reminds us of our good fortune and more than a year on, we are thrilled to be visiting friends beneath recently renovated roofs.

Cardwell’s main street is humming with travellers when we pass through. We spot them fishing and picnicking on the shores of Rockingham Bay, taking in views of nearby Hinchinbrook Island and taking a break at the halfway mark on the journey between Townsville and Cairns.

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