The October long weekend is always a big one for the likes of Tumut, Batlow, Adelong and Talbingo, but this was their first in the Covid-19 era, so there was a big question mark over it.
Thankfully, it turned out to be arguably the best weekend of a trying year.
Tumut Regional Chamber of Commerce spokesman and Coffee Pedaler proprietor Matt Lucas said trading was excellent in Tumut.
“At the Coffee Pedaler on Monday we had our best-ever sales day,” he said.
“The whole weekend was really, really strong; the number of people in town was quite amazing; out at The Junction there was difficulty parking and the Snowy Mountains Highway was really busy.”
However, there was one thing he and other Chamber members weren’t happy about.
“The lack of Tumut hospitality businesses open on Monday was really disappointing,” he said.
“From the perspective of the efforts of council to attract tourists, then for businesses not to open; there really needs to be a strong message to all retailers that when times are busy, such as the long weekend, it is important to be open.
“In hospitality, we have to work when others don’t, and people should take time off when it is quiet.”
Mr Lucas said it was fine for such businesses to charge a surcharge to make up for the increased labour rate.
“Council really needs to have everybody on board as much as possible,” he said.
“Monday was a great day for my business, but I want the whole town to prosper.”
Tumut’s Riverglade Caravan Park had its biggest crowd all year, having been booked to capacity a month ago.
“We turned away about 100 vans” manager Matt Pearce said.
“We often turn people away at Christmas and Easter, but it is unusual for it to happen on the October long weekend.”
This was a huge bonus in what has been one of the toughest years in the park’s history.
“Seeing that we didn’t have Easter, and winter and January were quiet, this was definitely the best crowd we’ve had all year,” he said.
It was a similar story at Talbingo Tourist Park, which also did a roaring trade.
“The park was full of holidaymakers; all powered and unpowered sites were full; there were plenty of campers about,” park proprietor James Smith said.
“The last time we had been full was Australia Day, and that was pre-Covid.”
Mr Smith was very pleased, but not necessarily surprised at the long weekend success.
“The whole town was busy,: he said.
ìEveryone was keen to get out and about with the weather so fine, so I knew it would potentially be good.î
The Batlow Hotel had mixed fortunes, as it is harder hit by Covid restrictions than other pubs.
“The (long) weekend was not too bad but it wasn’t great,” owner Matt Rudd said.
“It was better than a standard weekend but we have done better in previous years. We’re an older style pub with small rooms which really affects our per-square metre capacity allowance. We had to turn a few away.”
Mr Rudd said the closure of the western foreshore of Blowering Dam, which came into effect on July 9, would hurt business.
“We get a lot of passing trade from there, and it is going to be closed until February,î’he said.
Adelong Services and Citizens Club service manager Julie Neyland said that overall, is was a great weekend in Adelong.
“The town was busy and our caravan park was booked out,” she said.
“The visitors made up for the gap left by the locals who went away. Peaple enjoyed the falls walk and some saw a platypus. Some caught a cod above the falls, and others got some gold flakes out of pans.”
At Tumut Region Visitor Information Centre, there was an average of 180 visitors per day (40-50 people per day is normal).
Phone and email enquiries received at the centre in the last month were more than double the same period last year – most people were enquiring about camping, activities in the area, and the opening of gates into previously closed areas of KNP (either closed for winter months, or due to bushfire damage) or KNP alerts.