Mission Beach: A town on a mission to rebuild
On February 3 last year, the biggest cyclone in memory smashed into the Far North Queensland coast. Residents lost their homes, farmers lost their crops and businesses lost their livelihoods. How is the impact zone faring one year on?
Yasi hit Mission Beach hard but enthusiastic business owners have looked at the destruction as an opportunity to evolve, with a series of trendy new cafes and restaurants opening around the village.
One even boasts a French chef with a Michelin-starred background.
Some cut their losses and ran after Yasi tore through but their empty businesses have quickly filled with new people who are confident in Mission Beach’s future.
New since the storm is Zen Bah, a bright restaurant and cocktail bar with Michelin-starred chef Rudy Salomon who holds regular cooking classes; Sand Bar, which offers gourmet pizzas and tapas in a cosy building with sea views; and Fish Bar – an all-seafood restaurant that caters to the locals, according to the new owner Bernie Walkley.
Mr Walkley has owned another Mission Beach restaurant, Bernie's by the Beach, for years and says Yasi gave him the chance to reinvest in the seaside village.
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"There was a shuffling of the pack and what we have now is new people with fresh ideas taking over," he said.
"We do live music on Sundays at Fish Bar and we are focusing on the locals as well as visitors, they keep us going.
"This place was trashed by Yasi but we have revamped it and I am confident in Mission Beach’s future – of course I am or I wouldn't have put my money back into the place.''
Adam Lynch, executive chef at Sand Bar, said the restaurant was "flat out" after opening with a big year forecast in 2012.
"Straight after the cyclone there was practically nowhere to go," he said. "So when we opened up with a fresh look and new food people loved us.
"Since Yasi all the eateries have carved out a niche whether it is tapas, seafood or pizza, and things are going really well.
"In hindsight, Yasi was the start of Mission Beach’s evolution, there is a whole new energy here."
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Adam Lynch, executive chef at Sand Bar in Mission Beach, is full of optimism about the future of Mission Beach.