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Road to Indigenous community reopens following devastating north Queensland cyclone

Laine Clark -

Roads are finally reopening in flood-hit far north Queensland, three weeks after Tropical Cyclone Jasper struck the region.

But it may be some time before hundreds of people return to their homes after being evacuated from an Aboriginal community north of Cairns.

Crews are continuing to work hard to clear flooding damage caused by Cyclone Jasper last month, with about 650km of state roads reopened across the far north to date.

It includes the road from Cooktown to Wujal Wujal, an Aboriginal community that was one of the worst hit last month.

The cyclone crossed the Queensland coast at Wujal Wujal on December 13, causing record rainfall and flooding that forced almost 300 people to be relocated by Australian Defence Force helicopters to Cooktown.

Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said on Wednesday four people remained in their recovery centre but about 200 were still in town staying with family, friends or at motels.

He did not expect them to return to Wujal Wujal any time soon despite the road reopening.

"A road to Wujal Wujal has been pushed through," Mr Scott told AAP.

"But it is getting heavy equipment in there to help rebuild (Wujal Wujal) and getting things re-established that will take a little bit longer."

A massive recovery effort is already underway at the Aboriginal community, with even a temporary police station set up after reports of looting.

Mr Scott said the Red Cross and Salvation Army were set to keep the Cooktown recovery centre open for at least another two weeks.

Authorities are working to restore essential services at the flood-hit community of Wujal Wujal. (HANDOUT/QLD POLICE)

"We know there is probably a couple of hundred (evacuees) spread around town," he said.

"We have an interesting situation in Cooktown where there is not a lot of people staying at the recovery centre but they do like to go there for meals and social gatherings.

"As you can imagine they are feeling a little out of sorts so they do like to come together at the centre."

Asked when he expected Wujal Wujal residents to return home, Mr Scott said: "Hopefully ASAP but we have to be realistic.

"Everybody is very keen to get back to their homes at Wujal Wujal but it is a matter of getting those fundamental services up and running."

Queensland Disaster Recovery Minister Nikki Boyd is set to visit Wujal Wujal later this week.

Some roads still remain closed including the Captain Cook Highway between Buchans Point and Oak Beach despite the removal of a 300 tonne boulder.

Mud and debris on some sections of the highway are two metres deep.

However many roads have been reopened in a shot in the arm for local tourism and farmers.

"The far north has copped a big whack but we are going flat out to get everything up and running again," Acting Queensland Premier Cameron Dick said.

"For tourism operators and agricultural producers on the tablelands, we need to open these critical transport links."

Laine Clark - AAP


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