Wild weather but busi­ness as usual

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - AL GRUNDY Tourism Whit­sun­days chair­man

I WOULD like to start by say­ing I hope ev­ery­one is do­ing okay in what has been a very chal­leng­ing week weath­er­wise.

Any dis­rup­tion to op­er­a­tions is tough for tourism busi­nesses and I look for­ward to us all get­ting back to nor­mal.

In pos­i­tive news, I am ex­cited about the six new tourism projects an­nounced by Tourism In­dus­try Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Kate Jones.

Ms Jones an­nounced that $2 mil­lion would be avail­able to fund six projects, in Bowen, Air­lie Beach and on Hamil­ton Is­land, pro­vid­ing ex­cit­ing new ex­pe­ri­ences for vis­i­tors to our re­gion.

The fund­ing is part of a $7 mil­lion joint State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ment fund­ing pack­age set up to help the tourism in­dus­try bounce back fol­low­ing Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie.

The six projects to re­ceive fund­ing are:

Hamil­ton Is­land En­ter­prises Lim­ited – for the con­struc­tion of an au­di­to­rium to at­tract large expo and con­fer­ence events at Bougainvil­lea Mar­quee

Reef Eco­logic – for the de­sign, cre­ation and in­stal­la­tion of un­der­wa­ter and in­ter-tidal in­ter­pre­tive art pieces across the Whit­sun­day re­gion

Catalina Fly­ing Memo­rial Lim­ited – for a fea­si­bil­ity study into the restora­tion and re­lo­ca­tion of a Catalina fly­ing air­craft to Bowen for static and fly­ing dis­play as a tourist and ed­u­ca­tional at­trac­tion

Bowen Tourism and Busi­ness – for the cre­ation and in­stal­la­tion of a dig­i­tal in­ter­pre­tive space, fea­tur­ing CGI vir­tual re­al­ity, at the Bowen Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre

Jimmy Crow Lim­ited – for a fea­si­bil­ity study for an eco­tourism devel­op­ment in­clud­ing an in­ter­pre­ta­tive cen­tre and café, hik­ing and cy­cling tracks and adren­a­line ac­tiv­i­ties lo­cated both near and within Con­way Na­tional Park, over­look­ing Air­lie Beach

Queens Beach Tourist Vil­lage Pty Ltd – for the con­struc­tion of an in­clu­sive fam­ily wa­ter play at­trac­tion at Queens Beach Tourist Vil­lage

Also on a pos­i­tive note, Round 10 of the Queens­land Des­ti­na­tion Events Pro­gram (QDEP) fund­ing is now open. AT THE age of three Con­nor Howse was rid­dled with can­cer but, al­most five years on, he will be “sta­tis­ti­cally cured” from a rare form of stage four neu­rob­las­toma come Fe­bru­ary 2019.

Con­nor’s mother Rhi­an­non and fa­ther Gor­don are now us­ing their son’s jour­ney to cam­paign for bet­ter treat­ment op­tions.

“We’d love to see more treat­ment op­tions be­come avail­able in Aus­tralia with less side ef­fects,” Mrs Howse said.

Prior to his di­ag­no­sis Con­nor ex­pe­ri­enced spo­radic tem­per­a­tures and was walk­ing with an un­usual gait, so his par­ents went to their GP.

Af­ter push­ing for fur­ther test­ing at Proser­pine Hos­pi­tal, more than two hours away from the fam­ily’s home in Collinsville, still no ab­nor­mal­i­ties came to light.

By the next af­ter­noon Con­nor’s health de­clined.

Mrs Howse asked him why he was crawl­ing and he said, “My legs feel re­ally dizzy”.

His fa­ther con­tacted a pae­di­a­tri­cian to ar­range an ur­gent ad­mis­sion to the Townsville Hos­pi­tal.

“I only packed clothes for a three day visit, but it was the last time we were in Collinsville as a fam­ily for 16 months,” Mrs Howse said.

Af­ter five rounds of in­ten­sive chemo­ther­apy, ma­jor surgery, a bone mar­row trans­plant, ra­dio­ther­apy and six months of im­munother­apy Con­nor went into re­mis­sion eight months af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed.

The side ef­fects he suf­fered, not from the can­cer, but the chemo­ther­apy will be life­long.

“We’re re­ally lucky to still have him with us,” Mr Howse said.

“Con­nor sus­tained per­ma­nent hear­ing loss and lit­er­ally had enor­mous amounts of poi­son pumped into him to kill the can­cer,” Mrs Howse said.

Con­nor’s cousin in New Zealand, Darcy, was di­ag­nosed with the same rare form of nuer­ob­las­toma at age six, two years prior to Con­nor’s di­ag­no­sis.

Doc­tors said the dis­ease wasn’t hered­i­tary and it was ex­tremely rare for two cases to oc­cur in the same fam­ily.

The Howses had their daugh­ter ge­net­i­cally tested any­way.

While Con­nor con­tin­ues to defy the odds, a po­ten­tial re­lapse could be a re­al­ity.

“There are very lim­ited op­tions to treat re­lapse neu­rob­las­toma,” Mr Howse said.

Con­nor will turn eight on April 19 and will cel­e­brate with fam­ily in Bris­bane, af­ter a twice yearly ap­point­ment.

Mrs Howse has be­come in­creas­ingly in­volved with the char­ity Neu­rob­las­toma Aus­tralia.

“It’s a char­ity close to my heart,” she said.

“I com­peted in the run to cure down in Syd­ney last year and I’m not going to stop rais­ing aware­ness now.”

PHOTO: JESS BURGES

RARE JOUR­NEY: Rhi­an­non Howse and hus­band Gor­don Howse with chil­dren Isla Howse, Con­nor Howse and Freya Howse.

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