Local businesses have reported strong trading figures for the Christmas New Year break, amid multiple days of excessive heat and smoke from the North East fires resulting in a haze over the region.
Yarrawonga Mulwala Tourism Executive Officer Noel Wright said official statistics hadn’t been returned yet but all reports to the visitor information centre have been positive and many accommodation facilities had been booked out.
“It is too early to offer accurate statistics for the summer holiday visitor numbers or the impact the fires may have had on peoples holiday decisions, however, Christmas trade seems to have been pretty busy,” Mr Wright said.
“Belmore Street and Melbourne Street have been very busy since Boxing Day. Visitor numbers have been strong for the past 12 days or so.
“All reports at the Visitor Centre are positive. Camping by the river has been popular again – visitors are taking advantage of the river beaches and the proximity of those beaches to Yarrawonga Mulwala during the holiday period.
“This is a growth area for local tourism. The houses and units managed by the Visitor Centre have been completely booked either by the owners or other visitors over the past two weeks.”
Mr Wright said many of the visitor experiences also reported a great holiday period with a number still recording high numbers.
“The new additions installed at Aquazone doubling the size of the water park, has proved popular with visitors,” Mr Wright said.
“Aquazone have been very busy. The cruise boats, Paradise Queen, Cumberoona and Sienna Daisy have experienced good numbers during this busy time.
“We are advised that the Farmgate Trail operators are also experiencing good visitor numbers through their gates.
“The clubs are always popular places during the peak period – the entertainment provided and the facilities on offer at the three clubs is second to none – they are a favourite for visitors and locals alike.
“To maximise the economic impact in Yarrawonga Mulwala we encourage business to take advantage of the visitor numbers by staying open seven days and into the evening.
“During our peak periods we think evening trade offers great potential growth for Belmore Street and Melbourne Street traders and encourage retailers to explore this possibility to increase sales.
“We expect visitor numbers to peak again over Australia Day weekend.”
Shopping in the main street was steady with Judd’s Yarrawonga owner Michelle Clark saying her store had seen an increase in transactions and spending this year.
“We are pleased with our December figures,” Ms Clark said.
“We have seen an increase in the number of transactions and the average spend than the previous year. It was a great way to end 2019.
“Our start to January has been good especially considering the current retail environment and the challenges all of Australia is experiencing.
“As a retailer in a small country town who relies on the tourist trade our hearts go out to the towns just like ours devastated by the bushfires and the massive impact it will have on their livelihoods and their local economy moving forward.
“I am incredibly grateful that our local community is safe, and we can continue to trade.
“My family and I look forward to visiting our favourite town of Narooma on the south coast during the year to show our support and do our bit to rejuvenate their economy.”
Yarrawonga’s own fun inflatable waterpark Aquazone has experienced a busy holiday period with most days being fully booked after adding a new module that has doubled the size of the popular attraction.
Plenty of locals and tourists alike flocked to the foreshore to take on the new and improved park with bookings online or at the office essential to reserve your spot, however the park was closed for a number of days due to the extreme weather forecast days.
The three licensed clubs all reported a busy and successful Christmas New Year period with the restaurants and food facilities within each club bustling with visitors.
“We traded well over the summer holiday period, with increased foot traffic to the club and some huge evenings in our busy Border Bistro,” a YarraGolf spokesperson said.
“Our clubhouse team worked well together catering to our regular members and a large number of welcomed visitors.
“On some days the smoke did hinder those who were out on the golf course, but that is expected in the current climate.
“All round a positive Christmas New Year trade.”
ClubMulwala also reported a successful holiday period with the club’s newest renovations drawing visitors.
“ClubMulwala has had a fantastic festive season starting with the launch of their new renovations just before Christmas,” a ClubMulwala spokesperson said.
“The feedback has been outstanding on the modern and welcoming atmosphere that it now has to offer, especially due to how family friendly it now is.
“The three restaurants have all been flat out creating delicious meals which have all received high praises from guests.
“We’ve had excellent entertainment all the way through with something for everyone.
“The resort has been a bustle of energy with the new jetty providing easy access to Lake Mulwala. “We’ve had a terrific start to 2020 and are looking forward to the next events coming up including the ever-popular Rock and Roll Festival in February.”
Mulwala WaterSki Club CEO Peter Duncan said the 2019 Christmas period was great for the ski club with the busyness lasting deep into January.
“2019 was one of the busier festive seasons we have had,” Mr Duncan said.
“Our visitor numbers are way up on previous years and it is running deeper into January than usual.
“We have had to turn people away from our accommodation as it’s full. It usually drops off in the second and third week of January but not this year.
“This may be due to a few factors. People changing holiday plans from other destinations to ours due to the fires and Yarrawonga is one of the few places with water for boating etc.
“It is also a sign that Yarrawonga Mulwala is progressing well.”
Local police also reported they were happy with the behaviour over the Christmas New Year period.
Mulwala Police Sergeant Grant Churchin said only a few incidents required police response.
“Mulwala Police were happy with the behaviour of visitors over the Christmas/New Year with relatively few incidents requiring a police response,” Sgt Churchin said.
“Tourist numbers appeared to be up on previous years but we had a very quiet period which was very pleasing.
“Besides our normal traffic enforcement operations, Police have also been conducting joint patrols with Maritime on the lake with large numbers of breath tests conducted on drivers of boats and jet skis.
“The patrols will continue until Australia Day weekend.”
A number of the pubs and retail stores also reported a successful festive season.