Tourists evacuated from Great Barrier Reef
A cyclone off the Australian coast has seen tourists evacuated from the Great Barrier Reef.
Cyclone Ului is approaching from the west of the region, with two islands off the coast of Queensland – Heron Island and Lady Elliott Island – evacuated.
The Heron Island resort alone has seen 150 visitors and 100 staff head for the mainland, and will now remain closed for up to three days.
“Given the projected path of the cyclone, we made the decision today to take guests to the mainland,” said a spokesperson.
“It was all done very calmly, but it was better to act while it was possible to leave safely. The island will probably be closed until Saturday, when we will re-assess the situation.”
Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort is also planning to close.
The low lying islands are susceptible to high seas and swell waves.
The cyclone is presently about 1,200 kilometres north-east of Mackay in north Queensland and 1,400 kilometres east of Cooktown in the state’s far north.
It is expected to make landfall over the weekend, somewhere between Bowen and Gladstone on Australia’s east coast.
Australian Weather Bureau spokesman Mike Marrinan said modelling showed Ului will make landfall in central Queensland, possibly as a category three or four system.
“It will be accompanied by extreme sort of winds and rainfall,’ he said.
“If that’s the case, destructive-type winds causing flooding as well.”