Picking up

Picking up

As restrictions relating to COVID-19 have started to ease in recent weeks, the region is slowly picking up business with visitors easing in to once again enjoying the outdoors.

While visitors have not exactly poured into the region, it is hoped that increased visitation over the recent Queen’s Birthday long weekend was the kickstart needed to rebuild after drought, fires and coronavirus.

Georgie Carlile, who operates Marlo Caravan Park and Motel with her partner, Mark Hadfield, said easing of restrictions has helped a little, but implores those in metropolitan areas to do the right thing so restrictions can be eased further and sooner rather than later.

“We had a few in over the long weekend, but we can’t open to full capacity because we can’t have campers and caravans that don’t have their own en suite,” Georgie said.

“We only had two other caravans in, apart from the two that are here permanently and had nowhere else to go during COVID, and we haven’t been able to open up our budget cabins at all because they are not self-contained.

“We’ve been fairly full otherwise with our deluxe cabins and motel units, though at least a quarter of them have workers in them. We’ve had half a dozen workers at a time here for most of COVID with the fire clean up continuing. That will hopefully continue until probably the end of the month, after that we’re not sure. We still have more than half a dozen workers here now.

“The park is running on about half strength. If they keep causing trouble in the capital cities with thousands out protesting who knows when restrictions will ease again or if we’ll get a second wave.

“It’s extremely frustrating when we are here losing business and they can go and gather in their thousands.

“I do not have an issue with what they are protesting. Not at all. But the timing is wrong. When people can’t have large gatherings for weddings or even have a decent farewell at funerals, I think the it’s inappropriate for 20,000 people to be out protesting.”

Tabbara Lodge, in Marlo, had its four self-contained units fully booked over the long weekend, with Tabbara’s Tanya Coleman, declaring it a “good weekend”.

The easing of restrictions came at a good time with the long weekend, providing business during what is normally the quietest season for the area.

“June, July and August are generally our quieter months, so a lot of bookings isn’t expected, but we’ve got a few people coming in July and Christmas and New Year are already fully booked,” she said.

David Balinger, at Snowy River Bait and Tackle, said the season had picked up with more anglers about than this time in previous years, with plenty about as soon as the restrictions on fishing were lifted.

“We had a big influx of people coming to fish. I think people were just feeling cooped up and were keen to get out,” he said.

“The long weekend was busier with lots of visitors about. A lot of them were people who come here regularly and have caravans in the parks and so on. It was good to see them back.”

David said fishing has been a bit up and down, with some doing better than others, but people have just been glad to ‘be back out there’.

“There’s plenty of flathead and gummies offshore and salmon, tailor and shark from the beach,” he said.

“In the estuaries, the normal species are a bit up and down but generally it’s pretty good.”

David said things are picking up in the café too.

“We’ve just started seating people and it’s been pretty busy,” he said.

“We’re limited in how many and so on, but it’s good to have that side of things seeing people in more now too.”

Team member at Café One 2 Five in Orbost, Jess Young, said the café has been “pretty quiet” since restrictions eased, and the recent long weekend was not particularly busy.

“The Saturday of the long weekend was busy but the Sunday and Monday were fairly quiet,” she said.

“We’ve had our locals coming in and we’ve seen a few travellers so that’s good.”