Halls Gap experiences steady winter trade

RECORD visitation and hotel bookings in April and May have made way for a quieter than normal June and July in Halls Gap.

Despite the winter chills setting in, Halls Gap has remained a hive of activity, with visitors of all ages enjoying all that the tourist hamlet has to offer. The Halls Gap Zoo has continued to be a major drawcard, particularly since the arrival of new dingo pups. Pictured holding the pups are L-R Ruby, Charli and Jemma from Stawell.

Despite the winter chills setting in, Halls Gap has remained a hive of activity, with visitors of all ages enjoying all that the tourist hamlet has to offer. The Halls Gap Zoo has continued to be a major drawcard, particularly since the arrival of new dingo pups. Pictured holding the pups are L-R Ruby, Charli and Jemma from Stawell.

Business owners have reported that increased patronage at Easter had been countered by a drop in the first two months of winter.

Halls Gap Tourism chairman and Halls Haven Resort owner Geoff Watts said the July school holidays were quiet after the tourist hamlet received a lift over the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June.

"Generally speaking numbers have been down at most places because it has been another wet winter," he said.

"I mean it's raining, it's cold, who wants to come here when the weather is like that?"

Mr Watts said he doesn't believe there will be any lasting impacts from January's fire scare when towns in the Grampians, including Halls Gap were evacuated.

"We definitely felt it in January and February, but I don't think we'll see any long term impacts," he said.

"I think because we are starting to see these natural disasters happen more often, people are beginning to accept that they will occur and take that chance."

Winter is traditionally a much quieter time for trade in the Grampians with the peak period for Halls Gap beginning in September and stretching through until May.

Livefast Cafe's Will Hudson said business had been slow in the last couple of months, reflecting the overall mood of winter.

"We would be down on last year, however, in saying that, the snow on the mountains brings a few more people to town and the brisk weather means it is quite a peaceful place to visit on winter days.

"The park is deserted and you have all the walking tracks clear, restaurants open and waterfalls flowing, there is a lot to do."

Mr Hudson said April 2014 was his busiest year on record and after initially being affected by January's fire scare he didn't expect any long term affects.

Kookaburra Motor Lodge's Steven Odgers said it has been a mixed year with results often dependent on the weather.

"It has been quiet, although that is what you come to expect for this time of the year," he said.

"Our June was quieter than what we have previously experienced and July was probably on par with the average."

Mr Odgers said April was also one of the biggest months he has had in four years and he anticipates a gradual rise in visitation from September onwards.

"We have significant forward bookings and a lot of them are from overseas. People come from all over the world to enjoy the Grampians National Park and that is really positive."

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