Cape York Wide open spaces and fresh country air.

In today’s times as the world gets smaller, faster, and overcrowded, many often wonder what it would be like to live in paradise away from all the stress. In seeking this outcome in 1988 a family-owned nature retreat was established at the northern end of what was known then as the Great Daintree Rainforest. In those days when Cairns was still small, an adventure further north came with its hardships, namely the tyranny of distance. Over the past 30 years, as the roads improved and services like telephone and electricity became available, the remoteness of such became less and less. Conventional access is now easy and available to all.

Mulligan Highway to Cooktown

Mungumby Lodge established in 1988 has developed over this time an enviable reputation as being one of North Queensland’s more unique lodge experiences. The Wildlife, the ambiance, and the setting became the highlights and supported business growth. There are many lodges throughout Australia yet only a few manage to develop, maintain and grow a reputation that lasts for years into the future. Sir David Attenborough sought out Mungumby Lodge and used the property in 2010 for his well-known documentary “First Life”.  Today despite COVID-19 impacts the lodge remains well-positioned within many tour operator catalogues, distribution systems, on the internet, and online booking engines. There is still loads of room to grow and lots of potential nationally and internationally. The vendors post-COVID made major changes to operations and rooms to better accommodate domestic travelers in the temporary absence of international clients. In 2021 tour operator bookings are again growing and referrals remain high. In 2021 as more roads are further improved and tarseal becomes the new norm, a new client is able to easily access Mungumby Lodge as well as get off the beaten track. Not too long ago the journey was reserved for the adventurous few driving 4×4’s, today clients arrive in sports cars, motorbikes, and conventional vehicles.

Cooktown just north of Mungumby Lodge is in positive mode and focused on growth for the future. For the past 20 years, the owners of the lodge have and continue to play an active role in tourism business development for the region. There are a number of projects forecasted and more on the drawing board. The Cooktown waterfront is undergoing a major upgrade and beautification program, private school facilities are now available. A proposed new irrigation damnear Lakeland giving water security to support the new agriculture expansion in that area. Queensland Health plan to upgrade the hospital as the medical hub for Cape York to relieve the conjected Cairns Based Hospital. There are new Maternity and birthing services at Cooktown Hospital in place along with minor surgery, dialysis, and other treatments. Galalar Silica Sand Project north of Cooktown. Due to its location, it is proposed that they operate out of Cooktown, and will employ FIFO along with local workers who will be based on-site transiting from the Cooktown region. The COOK Shire is developing at a sustainable pace and still affords those within the very paradise they came to seek out.

In the past 33 years, Mungumby Lodge has only had two owners. Both have maintained these quality structures and developed the lodge business, reputation, and market position it enjoys today. The property offers good revenues, freehold land, an abundance of fresh gravity feed water a great lifestyle, and a work pace set by you. 95% of the lodge guests are active adventurous types from a broad range of demographics. Due to this, the compatibility of guest and staff is amazing, the team have loads of fun and are reminded every day by the guests that we have something very special.

For the past 15 years, the accommodation business has grown each year. This growth has accelerated over the past 5 years due to access, reputation, and infrastructure until COVID-19. Despite the GFC and COVID-19, the company has managed to reboot whilst maintaining its market position and initiating the next phase of Mungumby Lodge. Room for expansion has been created, additionally, the grounds, infrastructure, and facilities are constantly being improved. This business is best suited to an owner-operator or a company seeking to expand into Cape York an area that is the focus of many wishing to escape the confines of the suburbs and regular lockdowns post COVID-19.

The current owners of Mungumby Lodge seek expressions of interest in the lodge property, business, and chattels. Expressions of interest for $1.650,000.00 are sought and potential ongoing marketing, distribution, and logistical support is available as part of the package. The owners of the company have diversified their interests and without urgency are preparing to implement their next move. The enthusiasm and desire of this family are to see the lodge expand and grow and the business remains strong. Therefore incoming owners will be supported to ensure the future of the business and property remains secure. Live the dream and own this unique business in the center of paradise, surrounded by other top experience destinations.

Mungumby Lodge from above

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Southern Investors eye off Cooktown

Interesting to see southern investors eyeing off Queensland’s northern frontier township Cooktown. Commercial and residential inquiries are strong and contracts are processing. If your heading north, make sure pack your wallet!

Set to be the location of a greatly enhanced Queensland Health facility, the Cooktown Hospital is bringing in new employees and creating jobs for locals part of a long term strategy for the facility and region. The budget for this has been recently released by Queensland Health. This will places a great deal of pressure on the rental sector, yet creating more opportunity for investment in the residential sector. Meanwhile property investment group BInvested are under contract with the Cooktown Motel /Pam’s Place – Backpackers establishment. Others include large Queensland companies looking around and doing due diligence here along with small southern investors like TTV Australia looking for a long term strategy for investment in the region. Nearby Lakeland, currently the economic driver of the Cook Shire, is forging ahead as the regions food bowl and major employer. High volume producers Red Valley, Swiss Farms, MacKay’s Bananas and Collins Family employ large workforce’s with excellent production of bananas, avocado, papaya, passion fruit, organic beef, pork, and coffee to name a few. This is further stimulating the desirability to live on Cape York with year-round work and opportunity.

Snap lock downs can miserably disturb the most well-prepared travel arrangements. Travelers coming unstuck due to snap lock downs, boarder closures and quarantine restrictions is putting some people off travel to anywhere. All that said Queensland’s Cape York is bracing for a bumper winter tourist season possibly starting as early as April 2021. February & March are the wettest months of any year and punters are already out and about. With the wet now well advanced, Cape York is enjoying its great soak before arrival of the stunning winter. The winter will bring many road travellers wishing to escape, resulting in a long-awaited boast to the tourism sector.

Further stimulating regional visitation will be the Rising Tide festival held in Cooktown combined with the hugely popular Laura Dance festival held at Laura, the Laura rodeo/races/camp muster, and music festivals BMUP & Wallaby Creek Festival in Rossville all events retelling a combined Australian story from a Cape York perspective.

If you are looking to escape the pandemic madness, move your business and life to the Cooktown region, you won’t regret!

Things to understand when buying a business!

Checking out the business, by getting to know the business’s true financial situation is of the utmost importance, rather than merely relying on the information the current owner is giving out. You need the key sets of profit-and-loss statements going back at least three years, from financial records, balance sheets and accounts to tax returns. You also need to know current fees, advertising fees, how much it costs to train the staff, how much it’ll cost for new equipment if you need it, ongoing fees and whether or not there are transfer fees associated with buying the business.

It’s good to ask why the current owner wants to sell, as they may know something you’re not aware of. So you need to do your research into the industry that you want to buy into and any competitor within a 10-kilometre radius. Get in touch with as many suppliers or previous customers as you can, to get the vibe of what you’re buying into. You certainly don’t want to find out, on your first day in charge, that your cafe has a terrible reputation for dodgy coffee or food, your tech business is known locally as a dud, or your homewares shop has built up an impenetrable barrier of ill will from past poor service.

There are many signs of business being good and healthy beyond the spreadsheet. Among them are features like a loyal and long-serving staff with positive team morale, growing or stable revenue and increasing profitability, steady and controlled expenses and spending with limited waste or unnecessary spending. As well, there will hopefully be plenty of repeat customers, positive social media reviews and high star ratings online. You want good systems and processes to be documented so the business isn’t vulnerable to key staff leaving, including the current owner, and supplier agreements to be in place and in writing.

You also need to check the level of debtors and creditors and ensure that the business doesn’t have outstanding receivables and that the business has a positive cash flow. Some businesses are seasonal especially in tourism, so it’s important to understand industry trends and business intricacies. Taking note of industry trends is particularly important. For instance, a video store might not be such a good investment in these days of Netflix, taxi companies are a tough investment when competing with Uber, and anything that’s not up to the mark technologically is challenging if you’re trying to attract Millennial customers.

When you’re examining a business that you like the look of, imagine yourself running it into the future. It might suit you now, but will it still be a good fit in two, five or 10 years’ time? You might also be happy in your geographical location now but might you want to move later, and would that create huge problems? You need to look at the business in terms of the future, too. Look at the term of the lease, and see how much is left in place with the landlord. Are there any increases in rent coming up, or likely to come up later? And will there be any repercussions when the existing owner moves on? They might have all the licences and certificates and qualifications for their business, which you may not have. They also might not have been drawing a wage from the business, and you might plan to which will affect the net profit, or you might just be an investor in the business so you’ll have to pay someone else that wage to run it. It’s also essential to consider how you might be able to add value to the business going forward, move it in a new direction, or enter other markets. Just as when buying a house, you want to know if there’s scope to extend or improve it, you need also to think about a business’s potential for growth.

Buying-a-business checklist

  • Have all the appropriate due diligence reviews been undertaken?
  • Are net profit margins increasing, rather than declining, year on year?
  • Are BAS and past tax bills paid and current?
  • Are all staff correctly paid, with superannuation contributions current?
  • Are all key telephone numbers, email addresses, websites and software owned by the business and to be transferred to the new owner?
  • Does the business have good mentors, management structures and financial safeguards in place as well as human resources policies and contracts?
  • Does the company have a good pipeline of future business?
  • Is there a current business plan and have there been strategic reviews carried out on an annual basis?
  • Is the business receiving plenty of referral business from current customers and suppliers?
  • Are all licences to operate current and appropriate?

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE!

Cooktown Suburb Report

The size of Cooktown is approximately 2,143.8 square kilometres. Cooktown has 40 parks covering nearly 11.4% of total area. The population of Cooktown (not just the town itself) in 2011 was 2,338 people. By 2016 the population was 2,635 showing a population growth of 12.7% in the area during that time. The predominant age group in Cooktown is 60-69 years. Households in Cooktown are primarily childless couples and are likely to be repaying $1000 – $1399 per month on mortgage repayments. In general, people in Cooktown work in a professional occupation and many within the public sector. In 2011, 52.5% of the homes in Cooktown were owner-occupied compared with 54.1% in 2016. In 2019 the median sales price of houses in the area is $295,000. In 2020 this has gone up to $311,000.

Source Corelogic 2019 | ABS 2019

In the Cooktown catchment area above, in mid 2019 there were a total of 844 dwellings. Total of 99 were newly listed and a average total of 67 currently listed. So different to the general perception, at 99 homes only 11% of total houses are for sale. In late 2019 prices bottomed out and now appear to be on the turn upwards.

Charlotte Street Cooktown
Numbers sold V’s medium house sold price, Start Jan 2014 finish Jan 2019.

Market Activity Snapshot 18/19

2 Bedroom Homes | 11 on market | 1 sold
3 Bedroom Homes | 33 on market | 6 sold
4 Bedroom Homes | 12 on market | 2 sold

4 Buhmann Street, Cooktown, Qld, 4895

Sales in late 2019 and early 2020 indicate the housing market for Cooktown and surrounds is starting to rebound with better median prices as well as sales. Length of days on the market however remains high due to mild demand. Rental vacancies remain very low and weekly rates high. For FIFO workers Cooktown has up to 3 daily flights to Cairns and regular flights to Coen & Weipa so getting in and out of Cooktown is easy. For the family there are two good high schools (1 x state + 1 x private), childcare facilities and a huge natural playground for time off. There are numerous lifestyle blocks available and some very nice family homes hitting the market with facilities to park the lifestyle toys, grow your own fruit & veg, enjoy stunning views overlooking the Coral Sea and room to move without neighbours on the fence line. The Great Barrier Reef Coast awaits!

Cooktown Foreshore | Activity Precinct

Cape York a land of unique life styles!

Until a few years ago Cape York was considered by many as off the beaten track. A place for intrepid adventurers, naturalists or those wishing to escape the city to paradise. As road infrastructure rolls further north, access to unique wilderness areas of great beauty become accessible in a conventional vehicle.

With the addition of fast NBN satellite or optic fibre Internet available throughout Cape York many Australians are moving to the region to improve their standard of living away from the distractions of the daily grind in the city. Lifestyle blocks and ocean view acreages offer tropical orchards home grown organic produce, resort style homes with open ended views of the surrounding landscape and the Coral Sea at affordable prices. Great not only for a romantic retirement, also for young families wishing to raise and educate their children in a high standard enabling them to grasp an understanding of how life should be at one with nature.

 The Great Barrier Reef Coast stretching from Cape Tribulation to north of Cooktown offers easy year round access to Cairns airport from which one can travel abroad or nationally with ease. No time wasting traffic congestion around here, working from home has not only become acceptable it is often a preference enabling a true life balance leading to higher individual productivity. After the days end a few easy steps to nature’s wonderland for hikes, sailing, fishing, photography, art, fitness or simply spending time with each other.

Digital business hitch hikers

Tourism operator maintains rate integrity

Not so many years ago tourism operators relied on travel agents, word of mouth and advertising to source their customers. In today’s world we have an ever growing number of online travel booking services, feedback back sites and a digital world that is easy to become lost in. A digital disadvantage is common and something we coined as result of becoming aware at just how many businesses end up this way. It is not just small businesses or those in rural or remote locations, many businesses large and small end up this way through buying an existing business, a change of their operational location or simply wishing to delete a series of poor comments left by disgruntled customers of the business they have just purchased.

The most common mistake tourism operators make is handing all their sales and marketing investment work, to online order takers. This essentially affects their relationship with travel trade partners and their own booking processes in place. Recently whilst consulting to a small resort operator we learnt that they were being bullied by a well-known online booking agent who we choose not to name. The partnership abruptly ended as the resort came to realise the OTA was simply flogging their business as well as that of their trade partners by simply discounting the available product. All whilst stating in the contract terms that the resort was not able to undercut them in the market place, something they themselves were doing to the resort and its distributors. Additional to this, the resort in question was receiving bookings from customers that were not choosing their product because of its attributes or location, or because they wanted to be there, but were simply booking the property because all other nearby online options were unavailable or full so the properties client base changed which was leading to less favourable online feedback. Additionally the B2B distribution of this source lead to the product being misrepresented and often stated as BOOKED OUT when in reality there were plenty of rooms left. The online agent or B2B partner simply had no stock left to sell so directed the client to what their algorithm perceived as comparative products that were nothing of a sort.

As the relationship soured and the staff became fearful of those clients coming from that booking source the resort management made a conscious decision to terminate the contract in question along with others similar and swallow what looked to be a heavy revenue loss. They did so knowing this to be the case and the potential consequences. To minimise the losses strategic action was immediately put into place by remaining with other online agents and reviewing their supply contracts. This lead to stating clearly and enforcing in these supply contracts that no discounting of their product was on offer to club members or casual shoppers of those online sites. The operators were not keen at all, but agreed in order to maintaining the listing revenue. What we all learnt was that these online travel sites were offering every shopper a discount not just members and were changing this discount offer according to the origin of visitors and or bookings. So essentially whatever market the product was popular in, due to the resorts marketing investment, in order to secure more bookings from that market the online agent would tailor the algorithm to attract more customers from those markets. Why was this working? Because many punters want a deal or a perceived better price. 10% off is a substantial lever to make that process work.

Sticking with the new online plan was difficult, but management did so confidently. They had invested so heavily in marketing to those source markets, had great referral lines from in market agents and previous clients that they had to be able to claw back that lost market share. What happened surprised us all? The telephone started ringing again, online and agent bookings again surpassed those taken by online order takers, and the best of all, those that called to make an enquiry would book direct or with their local travel agent. Why? Because the price was the same! Additionally the service and information received through that change was accurate and personalised to their needs. Rate integrity is something many hotels, tour operators and accommodation providers overlook. For those that have no market relationships they have no reason to care. For those that do and additionally invest in their business future by marketing their product through distribution channels and their own online booking systems, rate integrity is paramount!

Pro’s and Con’s of DIY Real Estate sales

Selling a home, business or property asset without the help of real estate agent is far from a new venture. Today with numerous sites reaching out to private sellers the options to do so today are on the rise. However from nothing often comes nothing and many persevere with the DIY only to find themselves having lost loads of time and right back where they started. While thousands of dollars can be saved on agent fees, however there are many pitfalls to watch for, especially for sellers!

Essentially by engaging in a real estate agent you the vendor are paying for your agent to work for you and therefore to negotiate the best possible selling price. Additionally with the right distribution arms available to agents you are likely to get more for your buck than low budget options for the DIY. As agents are dealing with property transactions of various sizes, they generally know what the market is prepared to pay and when this is possible and the best marketing approach to take. Most importantly you detach yourself from the buyer when inspections take place ensuring security of your premises and are therefore unlikely to take comments or feedback personally from an agent versus dealing directly with the punter. Agents are also trained in legal and fiduciary matters relative to any sale therefore are able to keep you away from many of the pitfalls that are sure to lie in your path.

So consider this, put yourself as the seller in face with a buyer, it is quite an emotional decision making process fraught with danger. As a seller are you able to stand up to a aggressive buyer putting your valuable asset down in hope of a better deal. As a buyer private sellers are unlikely to disclose to you material facts relative to the property so you need to rely entirely on your own investigations. An agent is bound by law to disclose to a buyer any material facts about the property known to them. Additionally an agent’s role is to ensure that both parties are fully aware of the finer details related to the transaction as well as acting as a buffer that doesn’t get personal between both parties.

We have rarely seen private sellers have a successful campaigns due to the fact that they get upset when buyers are rude. They tend to think they are being ripped off in the transaction because they take it all personally. This is where things can go off the rails and in hind sight the agents commission becomes worth the investment.

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We think creatively, we stand for simplicity, we work with amazing projects and we do it on time.

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Site Under Construction

This site as at 16th May 2019 is under construction and will be ready very soon. Estimated 6 weeks time for full completion and trading.

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