After months of being deserted, central Australian gorges, waterholes, parks and campgrounds have once again filled, as locals finally got their winter camping fix.
- Alice Springs locals went camping in droves after biosecurity zone restrictions lifted on Friday
- NT Parks and Wildlife said everyone was well behaved while out camping
- Some roadhouses along the Stuart Highway were also completely booked out
Senior director of Parks and Wildlife in Central Australia, Chris Day, praised campers’ behaviour.
“Alice Springs is full of angels,” Mr Day said.
“People were really well spread out … and all doing the right thing.”
Camping spots and walks within the West MacDonnell Ranges were especially popular, including Section 4 and 8 of the Larapinta Trail and Mount Sonder.
‘Local support huge’
At Standley Chasm staff served more than 400 drinks and 300 meals over the weekend, and general manager, Nova Pomare, said she vastly underestimated the number of expected visitors.
“Sunday would’ve been probably the second biggest day I’ve ever seen out here since I began managing a year-and-a-half ago,” Ms Pomare said.
“We normally have this carpark full with buses, coaches, student groups, grey nomads — but for locals to actually pack the park, that was beyond what I expected.
“But pretty much our season’s gone.
“Within three days of COVID-19 hitting we lost over $60,000 in bookings, so that’s been massive for us.
“We are trying to get past that point, looking forward to the future.”
Roadhouse booked out
Roadhouses along the Stuart Highway also saw an influx of visitors.
The Devils Marbles Hotel, about 115 kilometres south of Tennant Creek, was completely booked out over the weekend.
Manager Rebecca Diaz said it had visitors from Alice Springs and even Darwin — a drastic difference from earlier in the week.
“[It’s] crazy — we had basically no one all week, and [now] it’s all hands on deck, all staff, which we’re very happy about,” she said.
Ms Diaz said staff managed to readjust.
“It wasn’t too bad, just more sanitising and more cleaning to get everything ready,” she said.
“Everyone that came in, it was no drama, they respected social distancing.
“I’m very pleased.”
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