When cruise ship Sun Princess docked at Kangaroo Island on the weekend, it was the first to call since recent bushfires caused several cancellations.
It was a heartening moment for residents as up to 2000 visitors from the cruise ship signalled that Kangaroo Island has begun the long road to recovery.
For more than 10 years the island’s luxury resort Southern Ocean Lodge has been a favourite industry placement destination for ICHM students. Around 40 students have undertaken a six-month industry placement there.
Tragically, on 3 January Southern Ocean Lodge was destroyed by the bushfires that burnt more than one-half of the island. The Lodge was one of Australia’s pre-eminent luxury resorts, and famous guests from around the world would book in and stay there. https://southernoceanlodge.com.au/
Three ICHM students were there at the time of the fire and were evacuated on the day. Two were at the end of their placements, with one just beginning her six months on the island.
Over recent months Australia has been suffering from terrible bushfires and those that hit Kangaroo Island were not isolated events. Extreme high temperatures, lack of rain, and drought have all played a role. For friends in Australia, this is not new. But for graduates and friends in other countries this might not be so well known
ICHM expresses its sympathy to the owners and managers for their loss. Southern Ocean Lodge was a beacon for tourists, attracting them to Kangaroo Island. On many occasions we were told how well ICHM students performed looking after the high-profile customers.
We take heart from statements that the property can be rebuilt, and once again our students can have the opportunity to work in this magnificent location.
ICHM student from Switzerland, Marco Taiana, has done two six-month placements at Southern Ocean Lodge - 2016 and 2018 - and is currently on his last placement at Hamilton Island.
He says he is gutted by the bushfire on Kangaroo Island, especially for the friends he made there during his placements who have lost everything.
‘To put things in perspective, the bushfire was as big as my entire country and my heart goes out to everyone affected.
‘At the same time it shows something very beautiful when a community comes together to help each other out.
‘It’s important that Southern Ocean Lodge rebuilds because it is such a tourism staple, but that being said the most important thing is that no lives were lost there - everything is replaceable, but lives are not!
‘I wish everyone the best moving forward’, he said