Halls Gap noise complaint

HALLS GAP - Visitors to Halls Gap could be forgiven for thinking they have just entered a music concert rather than the tranquil surrounds of the Grampians as Cicada season drags on.

Residents, business owners and tourists have all reported the insects that are known for being among some of the loudest in the world as much louder and on song for much longer than usual this year.

There are pockets of them all over the tourist hotspot with one of the biggest right in the centre of town near Stoney Creek.

Owner of Coolas Ice Creamery Tricia Granger said with the conditions right the cicadas have been on song.

"I think you notice it more when you come back into town when you have been to Stawell and Ararat," she said.

"It isn't too bad in the shop but there is a real glut of them outside. A lot of the tourists are amazed, they ask 'what's that noise?'."

Some cicadas produce sounds up to 120 decibels, that's equivalent to an amplified rock concert in front of speakers, sand-blasting or nearby a plane engine.

The song is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans should the cicada sing just outside the listener's ear.

Halls Gap Caravan Park Manager Johanna Peet said it hasn't really been a deterrent for business but many people have had enough.

"I don't remember them being as bad as this last year. I can't remember it being as long and as continuous," she said.

"We have no choice but to have all our windows and doors closed and customers have told us they won't stay because of how it has affected them."

Mrs Peet said campers have found novel ways to entertain themselves by cicada hunting and holding cicada races

"We had children walking around with bucket loads of them and it was actually quite amusing to see a group of children trying to race them."

Mrs Peet said others have been both confused and bemused by the sound.

"People are pulling up out the front and standing by their car to see whether it is their motor that is playing up," she said.

"There is now that many that when you walk down the street you can see them actually dead on the road."

Of the 220 cicada species in Australia the green grocer is among the loudest insects in the world and few tourists would disagree.

Each year for a period of a few weeks in late spring and summer, newly mature green grocer cicadas emerge from the ground to find a mate.

Their numbers, combined with the ear piercing noise produced by a single adult male is a recipe for great annoyance.

They inhabit both native and exotic plants, including tall trees and can cause damage to several cultivated crops, shrubs, and trees, mainly in the form of scarring left on tree branches while the females lay their eggs deep in branches.

Cicadas sing most actively in hot weather but have been noticeable in Halls Gap once the temperature surpasses 19 degrees.

Businesses and tourists alike will be hoping the sound begins to fade soon, just in time for one of the busiest times of the year - Christmas and New Year holidays.

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