Ghostly drone vision reveals city in lockdown
A new ird's-eye photo series has revealed with stunning clarity this city's drastic transformation since coronavirus lockdown measures were enforced.
The eerie drone images show empty Cairns suburban streets, pools devoid of swimmers and public playgrounds and exercise equipment going unused for months on end.
They also show shopping centre carparks appearing as busy as ever - a nuance anybody who searched in vain for toilet paper in the early weeks of lockdown would no doubt appreciate.
The shutdown has already had a major effect on the Cairns economy with a new report forecasting a $389 million hit to the region by July.
It has been a long and hard slog for everybody from mums, dads and children dealing with the school shutdown to hospitality workers left without jobs as trade came to a dead halt.
Fetta's Greek Taverna owner George Karagiannis said he was finally starting to see some life return to the CBD - but it was a drop in the ocean compared to what was needed to kickstart the city's economy.
"There's definitely a few more people in the city," he said.
"Basically people can now walk around the Esplanade area and this sort of thing, and go home, which is beautiful.
"But after that the city becomes dead again."
Mr Karagiannis vented his frustration at the State Government's decision to limit restaurants to 10 dine-in customers at a time, which he said would barely cover electricity costs.
"It's ridiculous," he said.
"I went to Bunnings before and there were people everywhere.
"You go to Cairns Central and people are everywhere, just about bumping into each other."
Mr Karagiannis hoped the council would return from the COVID-19 shutdown with a new spirit of latitude for business operators trying to claw back a living.
He wanted flea markets lining the CBD roads, buskers, footpath dining trials and colourful on-street displays to become the new norm.
"If someone wants to put a wooden table on the footpath, let them do it, don't charge them for six months just so they can give it a try," he said.
"Why would we want to have empty footpaths?
"We need to start bringing the city alive again."
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said the region was just starting to see some "green shoots" that should grow into a flourishing tourism industry - if given the right fertiliser.
"We're starting to see some early bookings for accommodation in June, once the travel ban is lifted for overnight stays," he said.
"It's time for a little glimmer of optimism.
"But obviously it's also time to make sure we contain the spread of COVID, keep our distance and stay home if we're sick."
Originally published as Ghostly drone vision reveals Cairns in lockdown