Romancing The Rainforest
They came to Rockhampton on their honeymoon in 1977…and never left. John “Marto” Martin, a former industrial chemist, and his nurse wife Genevieve, came from wheat and wool properties down south, and were adamant they wanted a block of land with permanent water. A chance encounter with a policeman for speeding saw Marto tell the cop he was looking to buy some land and not only was his speeding fine waived, but the police officer recommended a real estate agent who knew of a place at Byfield.
“There were no roads in, we had to use a map and a compass to find the block,” Marto says.
“We found the beach where the canoes are today, skinny-dipped across the creek and sat on a log and said ‘we could do something with this place’.”
Pioneer Cabin was the first cabin to be built in 1981, and by 1990, the Martins were ready to open Ferns Hideaway Resort and its five cabins built from yellow stringybark and bloodwood on the property.
“We didn’t think anyone would come, it was 28km of really bad, dirt road,” Marto says. “The first car that came around the corner was a Mercedes. We had mud crab.
“The paint was still drying, we were so naïve about how to run a restaurant.”
But open they did. These days you’ll find a thriving property, particularly on a Saturday night with Marto, who played in bands all around Queensland in the 70s and 80s, performing on guitar and vocals.
“You never know who is going to be in the audience,” Marto says. “One night I had a really great bloke up singing and I told him he was really good, he should do this for a living. I later found out it was Pete Murray.”
Sleep in one of these charming cabins, replete with fireplaces, swim or canoe the cool creek, or camp among the bloodwoods here.
“When we found this place it was so beautiful,” Marto says. “We’ve always tried to go the road less travelled.
“It gave us a chance to create something as a young couple.”
Back in the cabin, late at night, the fireplace crackles and cackles, just like this couple who are as much in love as they were back in 1977, and who burn just as bright.