News, Roadhouses

Pardoo Roadhouse reopens a year on from Cyclone Ilsa devastation

The popular Pardoo Roadhouse in WA has finally reopened its doors, 11 months and five days after Cyclone Ilsa devastated the property.

The category five weather system ripped through the roadhouse, tearing off the roof, wiping out staff rooms and buildings and blowing away solar panels that had only recently been installed.  

Now, the business is finally back in action – and co-owner Will Batth told Big Rigs that he feels a huge sense of relief.  

“We’re so happy to be back,” he said.  

“For the first month after the cyclone, we were just heartbroken.  

“But then we decided to see this as an opportunity to fix things we might otherwise have put off, and we’ve come back better and stronger than ever.” 

The roadhouse sustained $4m worth of damage in the cyclone. Image: Pardoo Roadhouse

The roadhouse is now open from 7am to 7pm daily, with a full meal service expected to resume by Friday.  

“We are doing bain-marie hot food at the moment, and we have 24/7 fuel with the card machine,” Batth said.  

“At the moment we only have temporary toilets but permanent toilets should be installed by the end of this month.  

“We have parking space here for about 10 trucks and we want to make it into a truck stop. Truckies are very welcome.”  

The Pardoo Roadhouse, which is run by Batth and two of his close friends, attracted a loyal customer base in the seven years it was open before the cyclone hit last April.  

After the establishment sustained an estimated $4m in damage, those customers – and the community at large – rallied behind them.  

They raised $24,550 in donations on GoFundMe in just a few days, hoping to help the owners out in whatever way they could.  

But ultimately, Batth wasn’t comfortable accepting their money.  

“We refunded the money to everyone because we are a business, it just didn’t feel right,” he said.  

“We thought it was better to use the insurance money and refinance our own houses to pay for the repairs.  

“We hope that now the roadhouse is open, and the cashflow comes in, we can finish the rest of the work that’s needed.” 

Cyclone Ilsa wiped out staff rooms and buildings on the property. Image: Pardoo Roadhouse

He said the timing of the cyclone was particularly unfortunate as he and his business partners had just invested a lot of money in new solar panels.  

“We had just installed the solar panels, then inflation went up and out here, everything is double or triple the price because we are so isolated,” he added. 

Another setback that Batth has had to overcome has been multiple break ins that have happened while the rebuild has been in progress. 

“Since we started the rebuild, we have had 15-20 break ins,” he said.  

“The most malicious times were when we went home for Christmas.  

“We had thought we were fully secure, the shutters were down and we were locked up, but we had five break ins over the course of the Christmas period.” 

The sign for the Pardoo Roadhouse, which held great sentimental value, was stolen during one of the break-ins. Image: Pardoo Roadhouse

When Batth and his business partners returned on the 5th of January, they saw their door kicked in and smelled gas.  

“Someone had cut open the locks to the main tanks, turned on the gas and left it on.  

“They had potentially tried to blow our whole business up.”  

He added: “They even stole our sign, which was of sentimental value and of no use to them.

“It’s probably dumped out in the bush somewhere.”

Despite these shocking incidents, Batth is feeling positive about the future of the roadhouse.  

“I know people will come back and support us,” he said.  

“I really want to thank the community of Port Headland and every customer who every visited us.

“Our customers have been sending us messages of support and encouraging us not to lose hope, which has meant so much to us. 

We are here and ready to serve you with a smile!” 

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