VISITORS to Kowanyama on the west coast of Cape York can now enjoy new, upmarket accommodation while supporting a successful indigenous enterprise, following the official opening of the Kowanyama River House yesterday.
Declaring the new venture ‘open for business’, Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch described the Kowanyama River House as an “Indigenous business success story”.
The nine-room motel, adjacent to Magnificent Creek and just 200 metres from the centre of town, was built by Thomas Hudson, the immediate past Mayor of Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council and current Chair of Apunipima Cape York Health Council.
“Thomas is an inspiration to his people and the wider Kowanyama community,” Mr Entsch said.
“He wanted to start his own business to provide work for his family and an investment in his future, and this just goes to show what can be achieved with a strong vision, commitment and the necessary support.”
In 2011, in the early stages of turning his vision into reality, Mr Hudson received business mentoring assistance from the Australian Government’s Indigenous Business Australia (IBA). After he completed IBA’s workshops, he received business support from IBA and John Felan of Felan Consulting Palm Cove.
They worked together to identify the site for the Kowanyama River House, secure a 30-year lease on the site, and arrange a loan for the business.
“The business planning, the construction of the buildings in Cairns, the shipping of the modules across the Cape to Kowanyama and their establishment at this site… all of it has been an extraordinary achievement by everyone involved,” Mr Entsch said.
Since the motel’s soft opening in May, Mr Hudson and his team have played host to more than 300 guests and have achieved a turnover of $130,000.
During the official opening Mr Hudson acknowledged all the assistance he had received from Paul Hynes and Stephen Cowell (Indigenous Business Australia), John Felan (Felan Consulting Palm Cove), Jennifer Frusher and Denise Smart (JA Frusher Cairns), and Stephen Devenish (Devenish Law).
Mr Entsch said there were already plans to double the size of the motel, with designs for Stage 2 of the Kowanyama River House already approved by the local council.
“This is a true success story and I’d like to see other Indigenous Australians taking advantage of the opportunities available to them for business mentoring though Indigenous Business Australia,” Mr Entsch said.
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t see more successful Indigenous entrepreneurs emerging from Cape York with new ideas for developing our region’s economy.
“It’s also important to note that this venture came about as a result of recent tenure reforms within Indigenous communities that allow individuals to purchase their own homes and secure long term leases over land. I congratulate the Queensland Government and Cook MP David Kempton for his vision and drive on this issue.”