Wild weather but business as usual
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.”
RARE JOURNEY: Rhiannon Howse and husband Gordon Howse with children Isla Howse, Connor Howse and Freya Howse.