Quobba Blowholes was busy with life on Saturday as tourists, locals and campers returned to the picturesque stretch of coast a month after Cleo Smith’s alleged abduction at the campground.
A hot 28C day with almost no wind provided perfect conditions for snorkeling, jet skiing, swimming and camping on site, which has been almost deserted – with the exception of the massive search for the little girl – since she was allegedly taken from her parents’ tent on the 16th October.
Karen and Michael Muddle, who have been touring Australia for 20 months from Newcastle, had followed Cleo’s case and checked for signs of the four-year-old on road houses along their journey.
Mrs Muddle said she was “so elated” and burst into tears when she saw that Cleo had been found. She said it would be a shame if people now avoided tourist paradise.
“It’s a magical place, it’s absolutely beautiful, it’s amazing to see people come back,” Ms Muddle said.
“We were only supposed to stay one night, but we have extended by two more.
“We are certainly glad we came.”
Sydney couple Ashleigh White and Adam Day visited Blowholes, which she said was almost as good as Ningaloo Reef, for a snorkel, after spending the last month working in a caravan park in Carnarvon to earn money for their travels.
“We’ve had friends who have said ‘we’re not going because of what happened’, but it’s still a nice place.”
A father from Carnarvon, who did not want to be named, said Cleo’s case was “stomach-churning” – but said it was a special place for his young family, who had splashed around in the bay.
Campers Jodie and Clinton from Perth said they had booked a vacation at Blowholes, a place they had visited for several years, and were hesitant to stick to their plan until Cleo’s miraculous rescue.
“I do not know how I would have felt if she had not been found, I think it would have been a little difficult to get back here,” she said.
“I think the fact that she was found safe makes me feel a little better about being here. I do not know if I would have come to tell you the truth.
“It’s a beautiful place, it’s still untouched, I think we can rise above (what supposedly happened) and continue.”