BACKPACKERS are rolling up their sleeping bags and returning to the Cassowary Coast in droves, looking for work as the region's banana farms get back to production after cyclone Yasi.
The huge storm in February flattened about 80 per cent of the region’s farms, which usually keep about 4000 staff employed – including 1500 backpackers.By early November, most farms will be back to 80 per cent of the staff they had pre cyclone Yasi, he said.
Banana growers were forced to let staff go and towns including Innisfail, Tully and Mission Beach have been suffering as they wait for the travellers to return.And finally, they are.
Hostels that have been practically empty for months are filling up, with occupancy sitting at 50 per cent or more around the region.
Phone inquiries from eager travellers looking to book rooms are pouring in, according to excited operators around the region.
"We had a real slump there for a while," Tully’s Top Pub Backpackers manager David Corbett said.
"At the moment, we are about 50 per cent full but that is only because the bananas are not back up to 100 per cent just yet. Give it eight weeks or so and we will have enough work for all the travellers and we will be chocka again."
Mission Beach Retreat backpackers is still undergoing renovations after Yasi, but manager Louise Moss said that hasn’t stopped backpackers pouring in.
"We are actually full at the moment, which is great," she said.
"A lot of people are coming here looking for work on the farms and in town but thankfully there are still plenty of holidaymakers too."
Tully banana grower Adrian Crema said farmers were just starting to think about adding to their workforce after months of low yields.