The Mirror News

On the front foot with ideas for tourists

IN THE wake of last month’s damaging floods, Prom Country Regional Tourism has taken a proactive approach to encouraging tourists to visit and stay on in the region.

Last week the local tourism body launched two new brochures packed with ideas of how people can enjoy themselves in ‘Prom Country.’

At the Visitor Information Centre at Foster’s Stockyard Gallery complex on Tuesday evening and again on Thursday evening at The Gatha Foodstore in Leongatha, representatives of Prom Country Regional Tourism gathered with local business operators for the launch of  ‘Prom Country Walks: A guide to walking trails in South Gippsland’ and ‘Prom Country Shopping & Dining Guide.’

The Walks brochure is a 16-page publication with brief descriptions of 24 walks available in the region outside of the national parks, including quick facts as to length, degree of difficulty, accessibility and facilities. The booklet is illustrated with colour photographs and carries clear directions on how to find each walk. The walks include: Grand Ridge Rail Trail, Great Southern Rail Trail, Olsen’s Walk (Korumburra), Loch Village Walk, Baths Road Reserve and Lyrebird Forest Walk at Mirboo North, walks within the Foster Flora Reserve, Toora Bird Hide, Port Franklin Wetlands Boardwalk, Limeburners Walk and The Overlook Walk at Walkerville, Roy Henderson Path at Sandy Point, Point Smythe, Anderson Inlet Walk and the Shared Pathway at Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower, Bald Hills Wetlands Walk, Welshpool to Port Welshpool Shared Pathway, Mount Nicoll and Loader Walk at Fish Creek, and Hourigans Camp Lane and Yanakie/Duck Point Loop at Yanakie.

“This is part of a suite of brochures we have published recently looking at things to do in the region. Its publication was accelerated by the closure of the Prom. We’re trying to build up relevant publications to share with operators and customers,” said the chair of Prom Country Regional Tourism, Catherine McGlead, congratulating PCRT executive officer Christine Legg on her part in getting the brochure out so promptly.

The glossy and appealing 68-page ‘Prom Country Shopping & Dining Guide’ links towns in the area. Prepared with the help of a Regional Development Victoria grant, it includes every retail business in the South Gippsland region. Some have a photograph and brief description, others are merely listed by name with contact details.

“It’s concise but presentable,” said Ms McGlead. “Pocket-size, it fits easily into a glovebox. Our aim is to promote local businesses and attract new customers. Hopefully it will interest people looking for something to do and keep them in the area. We are very proud that we have got it off the ground. Prom Country Regional Tourism is very conscious that every business is a tourism business, and this brochure shows our support for local businesses. I think it is fantastic!”

At the Foster launch Cr Mohya Davies piped up with praise for the new brochures. Speaking as the proprietor of a local tourism business (Warrawee holiday apartments and backpacker accommodation in Foster) she congratulated PCRT and the shire’s economic development unit on “putting this together right when we need it”.

“We need to make the best of a difficult situation,” said Cr Davies, adding that she had found that many of her guests had been amenable to trying out her suggestions of attractions other than the flood-damaged Wilsons Promontory National Park, and had gone away very happy with their stay in the district.

A fellow tourism business operator, Bronwen Osborn of Limosa Rise at Yanakie, said that she was grateful for the brochures and for the support provided by Prom Country Regional Tourism.

“It is good to see the industry taking the lead and not relying on the shire,” added South Gippsland Shire’s tourism coordinator, Christian Stefani.

TIDAL RIVER OPEN FOR EASTER

Parks Victoria and VicRoads have announced that temporary access will be available to the Tidal River campsite area for the Easter period from tomorrow (Thursday April 21) until 6pm on Tuesday, April 26.

The area south of Darby River Bridge will be temporarily opened for day visitation as well as campers’ access into Tidal River for those campers who have had a five-night camping booking reconfirmed by Parks Victoria.

VicRoads Regional Director Patricia Liew said the maintenance team has worked tirelessly to complete the necessary works to the Darby River Bridge and the road south of the bridge, to enable temporary access to the area for Easter. Ms Liew urged visitors to take the utmost care at all times while driving in the area.

“Drivers really need to be aware that there is a lot of work yet to be done to restore the road to its original condition,” she said.

“You will notice things like temporary traffic lights, reduced speed limits, narrowed road width and barriers in place around road damage.

“It is important drivers stay patient and obey any temporary restrictions that are in place.”

Parks Victoria Chief Ranger Wilsons Promontory Craig Stubbings said while the roadworks were underway at Darby River Bridge, the Parks Victoria team had been extremely busy in cleaning up the Tidal River area which incurred a great deal of damage during the floods last month.

“We are delighted to have met the objective of allowing access to Tidal River for Easter in such a short time frame,” said Mr Stubbings.

“However, we are advising visitors to be patient as travel times into Tidal River will be longer than usual due to the temporary conditions for drivers.”

VicRoads and Parks Victoria wishes to advise visitors that after the Easter period flood impact assessments will start again, more permanent road and bridge repairs will get underway as well as remaining works on Parks Victoria assets.

For further information, contact the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or visit www.parks.vic.gov.au

IMPACT OF PROM CLOSURE

Mr Stefani said that the shire was in the midst of a survey looking into the impact the closure of the Prom, owing to flood damage, was having on businesses across South Gippsland.

“The results are still coming in, but it is clear already that there has been some impact, especially on the businesses closest to the Prom. The impact has been different than that of the fires (in 2005 and 2009). Some businesses, though, had still not recovered totally from the last fire at the Prom and have found it hard to cope with two fires and then a flood. There has been a flow-on effect, too. It is not just the accommodation businesses which have felt the effect of the closure of the Prom.”

On a brighter note, Mr Stefani noted: “We’re hoping to get a television commercial out fairly soon.”

Lorraine Hughes, who runs a motel at Meeniyan, said that it was hard to quantify the effect the closure of the Prom had had on her business, but she had had some cancellations. Some of these had been for road workers who had been going to work on local roads but would instead be working on roads in the Prom!

“When I get the chance I tell people that there are plenty of attractions other than the Prom, and I list some on my website,” she added.

The northern section of Wilsons Promontory National Park was only shut briefly, re-opening to the public on April 4. Those people who have ventured in have welcomed the opportunity to explore the generally less well known tracks of this part of the Prom.

Shire economic development officer Ken Fraser is one who has made the trip in and enjoyed walks in areas such as the Vereker Range. He said that there was plenty of wildlife to be seen, perhaps because of there being fewer people and cars. This, of course, is a bonus for overseas visitors, in particular, who are always keen to see a wallaby or emu.

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