Bellarine’s bumper business

Howard Harmer Reserve in Barwon Heads was packed with locals and holidaymakers enjoying the Easter Saturday warmth for the opening round of the football season. (picture The Tree on the Wing podcast)

By Justin Flynn

A bumper Easter that has spilled into the school holidays has helped fill the coffers of Bellarine Peninsula businesses following a tough 12 months.

Accommodation and hospitality venues reaped the rewards of warm weather and a massive influx of tourists to the region.

Barwon Coast’s caravan parks and campgrounds were full to capacity, with manager of accommodations services Daniel Payne saying “it was a bumper Easter for the parks and the town”.

Ty Simons said his Driftwood Cafe experienced a “quieter than usual” Good Friday before rebounding on Easter Saturday.

“Usually Good Friday day is our busiest day but this year was quieter than usual, still good but not great,” he said.

“Then for the first time ever we closed that evening.”

Mr Simons said Saturday was “very solid”, Sunday “even more so” and Monday was “out of this world”.

“I think it (Easter Monday) was busiest day we have ever had excluding the 20 per cent surcharge we are now being forced to charge for public holiday rates,” he said.

“We are the only state in the country that pays the rates for all four days. The others pay it Friday and Monday only.”

Mr Simons said Tuesday was also busy.

“I think having the holidays start with Easter and pretty good weather, combined with the ‘let’s holiday here’ mentality, the town is rebounding well after the year we have just all had.”

Ocean Grove Hotel’s Andy McDonough said he experienced a large increase in trade for Easter Saturday and Sunday.

“With the warm weather and customers being able to enjoy the outdoor areas at the hotel, it has carried on into the week with strong bookings, … hopefully it stays this way all school holidays,” he said.

Tourism Greater Geelong executive director Brett Ince said there had been a “massive demand in the region”.

“People really want to get out there and recover, reconnect, recharge after the 12 months that we’ve had,” he said.

Mr Ince said the Bellarine Railway had been well patronised over Easter.

The Bellarine Football Netball League began its season on Good Friday after an 18-month hiatus.

Torquay hosted Ocean Grove with an estimated 3000 to 5000 people attending while Barwon Heads played Drysdale on Easter Saturday with thousands of locals and holidaymakers enjoying the match.