The silly season is proving to be one of the best years for a while within the Hawks Nest Tea Gardens communities.
Visitors from far, wide, and even a little closer, have made the trip to the twin towns.
Many are still around and some are still coming throughout the remainder of January.
Tourism is one of the important drivers of the area and the attractiveness of the area is greatly attributed to the beautiful river, beaches and waterways.
Spokesperson for the Myall River Action Group (MRAG), Gordon Grainger said, “The towns of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest are dependent on the tourism business and our future lies in that development.”
“The closure of the natural entrance to the Myall River resulted in a natural oceanic system changing to an estuarine appearance of cloudy, low salinity water. That resulted in a change of marine species and increased occurrence of fish diseases, reported ear nose and throat infections in swimmers, as well as the loss of our local oyster industry,” he said.
“Obviously these reports had an adverse impact on tourism.”
Mr Grainger said that the return to clean, fresh sea water has reversed this and we can now see clear seawater reaching past Tea Gardens.
“Hopefully we will see a return of the oceanic species of marine life in the near future,” said Mr Grainger.
“Authorities and bureaucratic nonsense delayed this outcome for 7 years—it is to be hoped that a lesson has been learned and that the entrance will be cleared on a regular basis into the future.”
“The decision by Council to use the dredged sand through a transfer system in the stabilisation of Jimmy’s Beach will assist and we can only hope that bureaucratic obstacles will no longer be put in their way,” he said.
MRAG has been successful in improving the area’s attractiveness.
They have been instrumental in the installation of the public wharf in Tea Gardens.
They are currently working with authorities to achieve additional wharfage along the waterfront through the Better Boating Program and will be working to extend dredging up river where sand build up is impeding boat traffic into the Lakes.
Hugo Elstermann from Hawks Nest newsagency said, “The first couple of weeks have been good especially the lead up to the festive season.”
“People appear, at least this year, to have come earlier in numbers than in the last few years,” said Mr Elstermann .
“The acid test will be the coming week as the weather has turned a bit for a few days which may sort out the campers.”
Tea Gardens (waterfront) business owner Jim Rutter said that it has been a fantastic holiday period so far.
“We say this every year and we are always pleasantly surprised when it gets busier and busier,” he said.
“All our local businesses work hard to provide excellent service to our visitors and that is what brings them back year after year.”
Mr Rutter said, “There is also a bunch of work goes on through the year to attract more tourists particularly by the real estate businesses but also by the chamber of commerce.”
“The low Australian dollar may also be keeping folk at home this year rather than overseas,” Mr Rutter said.
“Busy ferries sustain our business all through the year but particularly at Holiday time and a good clean and healthy river makes the trip more appealing.”
“The amount of river traffic has been much greater than in previous years and I am certain our recent dredging has been the reason,” Mr Rutter told Myall Coast News.
Tea Gardens Real Estate Agent, also operating on the waterfront, Rick Wriaght said that apart from the weather this week, it has been the most heavily booked Festive season he has seen.
“We have seen a significant increase in family bookings, particularly younger families with small children and older grandparents.”
Mr Wraight said, “The Tea Gardens waterfront has been a haven for family groups enjoying the waterfront.”
“Councils recent work on Marine Drive, Tea Gardens has helped encourage riverside enjoyment as well as the wide walkway/cycle way along the foreshore,” he said.
“Equally the Winda Woppa reserve at the western end of the Anchorage has seen the improved bbq facilities and children’s play areas being used by many many family groups daily.”
Mr Wraight believes that the waterways of our area assist greatly with the tourism appeal.
“90% topographical. The water is the significant reason holiday visitors come to the area,” he said.
“There is absolutely no doubt as the health of the Myall river improves and returns to its pristine quality this will have dramatic effect not only during peak season visitations but during off season visits,” Mr Wraight told Myall Coast News.