Dream to reopen abandoned Cape resort edging closer
IN ITS prime, the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge at the tip of Australia was a high-end bucket list retreat.
Now almost 20 years since it closed there are plans to revive the languishing and vandalised accommodation, but issues of land tenure need to be resolved.
The resort on the shores of Punsand Bay opened as Cape York Wilderness Lodge in 1986 by Bush Pilot Airways which built the resort on 1500ha of land for $1.2 million.
The resort was taken over by Injinoo Aboriginal co-operation in 1992 and renamed the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge.
In 2002 the resort closed for renovations after a fire damaged buildings. It was due to reopen the following year but never did.
Indigenous ranger Myiesha Yoelu, employed by the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, is a member of traditional owner group the Gudang Yadhaikenu people, and she wants to see the resort thriving again.
"I would love to see the resort up and running again. We could get a lot of tourists and money flowing into the community," she said.
"We don't have a lot of job opportunities and we see that as a prime spot to gain employment."
Ms Yoelu said rangers during the tourist season were employed to camp overnight as a deterrent to vandals but over the years little in the way of furniture or appliances remain.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said it was time something was done about the "trashed" resort.
"I get so many complaints from people on their bucket list trip of Australia having to walk through the ruins of the Pajinka Resort," he said.
Mr Entsch said he had been in discussions with traditional owners about forming a joint venture with a large hotel group to rebuild the resort.
"They are getting close to the time when land issues are resolved," he said.
The Department of Natural Resources is currently working with traditional owners to transfer the land to Aboriginal freehold.
"The state will work with the TOs … on their future development priorities to enhance the experience of visiting Cape York," a spokeswoman said.
ALP's Leichhardt candidate Elida Faith has been contacted for comment.