News / Business / Community / 8th October 2020
Booked out: Coonabarabran inundated by tourists
Much to the delight of local business owners, Coonabarabran has become a popular tourist destination during the October school holidays as thousands of visitors converge on the town and region for unique bushwalking and stargazing opportunities.
Typically already a busy time of year for tourism operators, the surge in visitor numbers has been sparked by state border closures and limited international flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing NSW residents to explore their own backyard.
Camping in the Warrumbungle National Park was fully booked during September, with visitor numbers at the Warrumbungle Visitor Centre estimated to be 2500-3000 visitors per month compared to 700-800 for the same time last year.
On the first day of the long weekend, Saturday, 3 October, more than 700 people visited the award- winning centre, while the Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre in Baradine also recorded hundreds of people through the doors.
In town, moteliers have been well-supported by tourists, with many “booked out” for the entire holiday period.
The economic turnaround has been welcomed as moteliers look to get back to business after several very quiet months.
At Coonabarabran caravan parks, both Lisa De Costa from the Getaway Tourist Park, and Fiona Kelly, from John Oxley Caravan Park, reported solid cabin bookings, as well as powered caravan and camp sites.
Along with fresh coffee and fuel, bags of ice were also in high demand, with Guy Andrews’ ice machines in Coonabarabran and Binnaway delivering 240 bags in the past week, up 30 per cent on last year.
Maria Rickert, from Pilliga Pottery, said her team had been kept very busy over the past couple of weeks, running up to three pottery classes a day and on-site camping proving increasingly popular with tourists.
For Donna Burton, who runs Milroy Observatory, four shows a night could not even cater for the interest shown by visitors.
“We added an extra kids’ show before dark, which has been a real hit, but I’ve still had to turn people away,” Donna said.
“It is so nice to see people supporting the bush and it would be great to see that momentum continue in the coming months.”