By Sarah Dean
Millions of dollars have been injected into Corowa this holiday period as droves of holidaymakers take in the peaceful surrounds and enjoy the many water activities made possible by the marvellous Murray River.
Corowa experienced severe flooding in September 2016 that kept the visitors away but it has been a different story over the past few months as visitors flock to the area to enjoy their break.
Visitors and locals alike have been soaking up the summer sun and enjoying picnics and swims at the many popular spots around the river.
Corowa’s Mak Lavis, Kaelan Bradtke and Darcy Melksham took to Rowers Park for a swim in the river late last week.
They told the Free Press it was the “best way” to cool down and have fun at the same time.
Further down the river a Melbourne woman was relaxing under a tree in the park.
Kahtlin Morris, 33, said she and her family had been holidaying in Corowa and staying at the Ball Park Caravan Park since she was a baby.
“My dad started the tradition back in the day and it has just continued now for 30-odd years,” she said.
“We are here with ten aunties and uncles and seven cousins, we generally spend two weeks here over Christmas and also come back at other holiday times like Easter and long weekends.”
Asked what made Corowa a great place to stay, Kahtlin said it was the beautiful river and the peace and quiet.
“We enjoy swimming in the river and some of the family like to fish,” she said.
Accommodation providers have reported great numbers with many near full capacity during this holiday period.
Over at Bindaree Motel and Caravan Park Managers Sarah and Andrew Sobey have been at 80 per cent capacity throughout the Christmas period.
“We are enjoying great numbers, a lot of the visitors come from Melbourne,” she said.
The couple took over the park in August last year.
“We have made some huge improvements to the park, which have made a big difference and the regulars have noticed and commented positively,” Mrs Sobey said.
Corowa Caravan Park Owner Karen Dunstan said the park was at 97 per cent over the Christmas and New Year period and were now sitting at around 75 per cent.
“It will be spasmodic through January we have people coming and going whereas between Christmas and New Year they basically stayed for that length of time,” she said.
“There are a couple of busy weekends coming up with the rowing regatta at the weekend, which will be a busy weekend for us and we don’t have a lot left for Australia Day, most of our cabins are booked out and 75 per cent of our camp is booked out for Australia Day.”
Mrs Dunstan took over the park after the 2016 flood event.
“We took over in December and so far December this year has been far better than last year,” she said.
“People come for all the water sports and the majority of the holidaymakers come from the Melbourne area.”
Retailers are also winners of the tourism boom, with longer lines at the supermarkets and speciality shops reporting higher trade.
Corowa Supa IGA Store Owner Craig Waldron had taken note of the longer lines in the supermarket since back in October.
“The town does sort of work on the river, if it’s not flooded then people visit but when it was they stayed away,” he told the Free Press.
“Customer counts are up, trade is better and there are more people about, which is great.”
Mr Waldron said it was easy to see why Corowa was such an attractive place for visitors.
“The river itself is an attraction and the quality of caravan parks and the motels that we have here and all the water sports – you couldn’t even get a boat in here during the floods,” he said.
A Federation Council Spokesperson said there had been some great events and activities around the council area over the past couple of months, which were things that drive visitation and encourage people to explore the region.
“We don’t receive official visitor statistics for some time yet, but feedback from operators would suggest that overnight stays is up on the same period last year,” the Spokesperson said.
“Obviously this is linked to the availability of rooms, which was impacted by the flood event we experienced.”