The Limestone Coast region was filled to the brim with tourists across the Easter weekend, with visitors flooding the region. Towns were overrun with sightseers, with tourist destinations, accommodation and eateries all reporting exceptional patronage.
Mount Gambier Visitor Centre tourism services ambassador Tracey Martin said there were plenty of tourists accessing the centre. “It was fabulous, on Good Friday we had 106 people through the visitor centre,” she said. “We also had a pop up at Blue Lake which was absolutely inundated with people, from what we could count we had about 300 people.
“Most of them were from Adelaide and Melbourne, but they were really from all over the place with Victoria and SA the main numbers. “On Saturday we had 191 through the visitor centre and we had a pop up at the farmers market and 112 people there.”
“Then on Sunday we had 163 through the visitor centre,” she said. Mrs Martin said the visitor numbers were promising. “They’re really, really good and while we cannot compare to last year, comparing to 2019 numbers it’s fairly similar,” she said. “It is really positive that those numbers are looking very similar to pre-COVID numbers.”
Mrs Martin said while tourists were keen to visit the region’s key attractions of the Blue Lake and Umpherston Sinkhole, many were looking for the “hidden secrets” of Mount Gambier. “The hidden secrets are places like the underground attractions such as sinkholes, Little Blue Lake, the craters of Mount Schank,” she said.
“People are really excited about learning more about them.” Mrs Martin said the town was a hive of activity across the weekend. “It was really lovely, it’s great to see the bustle back in the town and the tourism side of things was great,” she said.
“The numbers were really encouraging and a really great start to the Easter school holidays. “It’s really positive to see people out and willing to explore their own country.”
The strong visitor numbers were replicated in the Wattle Range area, with tourist flocking to Penola, Millicent and Beachport. Wattle Range Council tourism officer Paul Brookshaw said towns were full of travellers all looking to enjoy the region.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “My belief is the COVID virus has worked in our favour in the sense that Victorians can get out of their state, but they do not want to go to Queensland and NSW and they are coming over here in droves.”
Mr Brookshaw said more than 5000 people attended the Beachport market on Saturday, with the town overflowing. “When you drove over the Beachport bridge coming into town, there were cars parked all the way to the pub,” he said. “On market day there were 5000-plus people. “It was absolutely incredible, it was good to see.”
Mr Brookshaw said he had lived in Beachport for 12 years and had spoken to many locals who had never seen such huge numbers at a market. “Our January market was incredible but this one has surpassed it,” he said. “The amount of vehicles using the 4wd tracks was just wow.”
Mr Brookshaw said there were strong visitor numbers through the Beachport, Millicent and Penola visitor centres, while many of the towns’ eateries had reported strong trade.