RAIN or shine, business has been booming across the Promontory district this summer, with food outlets doing particularly well.
Rick Bromley of Bromleys on Main Café in Main Street, Foster, said that not since the Great Victorian Bike Ride came through Foster in November 2007 has business at his cafe been so good. “We started to become busy at the end of November and trade has just increased since then. It’s great!” Ando’s Bakery, next door, has also enjoyed great business, he said.
Anyone trying to find a parking space in Foster in recent weeks would know that there has been a huge influx of holidaymakers into the town, with the first couple of weeks after Christmas particularly hectic. The supermarkets have done a roaring trade, especially when the weather was hot over the New Year and holidaymakers were clamouring for sunscreen, insect repellent, snack food and drinks.
Not only food has attracted the holidaymakers to the shops. Deborah Harris of Main Street Revelations said business has been brisk in her shop which sells clothing, books and jewellery. “Jewellery and crystals have sold well, as have books – but I haven’t sold so much of my Indian cotton clothing since the weather deteriorated! Once it improves I guess the flowing summer dresses and hats will prove popular again.”
South Gippsland Shire’s Visitor Information Centre in Foster (there’s one at Coal Creek in Korumburra, too) is in an excellent position to gauge the number of visitors to the district and what they are interested in. It is open every day (9 to 5) and keeps statistics of visitor numbers. Staff member Louise Matthews said that she and the volunteers who assist her have been very busy. One or two staff members work each day, along with a volunteer.
“We had 93 people coming in on Boxing Day alone and well over 100 each day after that. That’s more than last year, but fairly standard for this time of year.”
Many of the visitors come from overseas, especially from the UK and Europe, but there are lots from Melbourne, too, many in big family groups, and others from regional Victoria and NSW.
“There is lots of interest in the Prom, but also people after accommodation in the area and wanting maps. We get lots of enquiries about the opportunities for free camping – there is very little in this area, only really Bear Gully – because lots of people have campervans and are self-sufficient,” said Louise.
The natural attractions of the district keep holidaymakers entertained while the sun is shining, after that the information officers have to rack their brains for suggestions.
“We suggest Coal Creek – much of that is undercover – or perhaps the indoor pool or cinema at Leongatha. Then there are the museums – at Foster, Port Welshpool and Port Albert – or Toora Heated Peal,” said Louise. However unwelcome the rain, she said, it did add to the spectacle at one increasingly popular local attraction – Agnes Falls.
A summer holiday hotspot in more ways than one is Toora Heated Pool.
“Sometimes the bad weather brings more people to the pool, because it is under cover and a warm and fun place to be,” said pool manager Ernie Bennett.
He said the pool was incredibly popular when the district sizzled in temperatures in the high 30s over the new year. There were 243 through the gate on New Year’s Day, 303 the next day and 263 the day after that. Most days, even the coldest, there are at least 100 keen swimmers, some there for the early morning laps, others enjoying the aerobics sessions between 9 and 10am. Ernie is especially looking forward to the second Friday in February, when the pool will hold a movie night (phone 5686 2296 for details).
Many of Toora Pool’s patrons come from the local Toora Tourist Park run by Andrew and Rachel Brown. The Browns said they were completely booked out for the first two weeks after Christmas, but after that it had been quieter, especially when the cooler temperatures and rain hit Victoria. “After the initial new year flurry, bookings tend to be weather dependent,” said Andrew. “People will book a few days here by the coast if the weather looks like it will be good, but not if it looks like being cold and wet.”
Two recently installed attractions at Toora Tourist Park – a six-hole mini golf course and a giant chessboard – are proving particularly popular, and on the rainy days the indoor pool is appreciated.
Holidaymakers are clearly confident there will be plenty more good weather before the end of summer. olidaymaker”Bookings are picking up for later in January, especially around Australia Day,” said Rachel. That, of course, is great news for the whole district.