Business booms in the Highlands as restrictions ease
AN EMERALD business welcomed one of its busiest days of the year as people across the region took advantage of the eased coronavirus restrictions.
Lake Maraboon Holiday Village owner John Walsh said it was bizarre to look out the window and see ski boats on the water, families picnicking and numerous locals walking their dogs.
“It’s absolutely awesome. It’s so good to see people out in their ski boats,” he said.
“We sold more than 200 meals (on Sunday), just like it used to be.
“We’d love some caravans but we’re lucky to get what we get. Things couldn’t get any better.”
Assistant Manager Juanita Rodwell said the team had been flat out all weekend and nearly ran out of food on Sunday because of the “absolutely incredible” amount of orders.
“The atmosphere was really upbeat people were really excited to get out of the house and go somewhere,” she said.
“(Sunday) was the busiest day we’ve had since we’ve been here in January.
“People would come get food and go down to the dam for a picnic. It was really good to see”
From Saturday, Queenslanders could leave their homes for a picnic or to go for a drive within 50km of home.
People were on the water within hours of the reopening of Fairbairn Dam, which was one of many across the state to re-allow boating, jet skiing and fishing.
Non-essential businesses were also given the green light to re-open, with Gruffalo & Co (Emerald) and Muller’s Bakehouse (Tieri) some of the first to welcome customers.
While many across the state welcomed shoppers on Saturday, several shops in the Central Highlands have kept their doors closed.
Owner of Springsure’s Decadence Gifts & Homewares, Louisa Oppermann, has opted to test the waters and open one day a week, with plans to fully re-open at the end of May or early June.
Mrs Oppermann lives in Rolleston and although she was thrilled to hear of the reopening on non-essential stores, it would require her to travel 140km to and from the shop each day.
“I along with my mum Shirley Weston share days working at the store,” she said.
“Mum fell into the high risk category for coronavirus, even though she is extremely healthy, fit and capable – she landed in the high risk over 70 age group.
“I personally could not jeopardise her health nor justify the 140kms daily travelling to my store to work on my own.”
She has been going to the store every Friday to pack and arrange collection, postage or delivery of orders placed through social media.
While she is still taking orders through social media, Mrs Oppermann said she would use the next few weeks to prepare and price the numerous new items that have arrived to ensure when it reopens, the store would be “brimming with new treasures”.
“Lastly I would once again like to thank my customers near and far,” she said.
“I personally think small bricks and mortar stores will need their shoppers more than ever now.
“It saddens me every time another small business closes, they are the backbone of our rural areas and offer their support to so many local sporting club’s and schools for their fundraising ventures.
While many businesses and national parks are welcoming customers within 50km, tourism operators across the region continue to face the hardships of coronavirus.
Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said she was hoping restrictions would be lifted on restaurants, cafes, tours and attractions by the end of the month.
“Cash is king,” she said.
“Our businesses cannot survive if they don’t have cash coming through and the tourism industry cannot afford to miss another school holiday period.
“We’re coming into winter season where travellers come north.
“The concern is if those borders aren’t open until September, we’ve all but missed our traditional busy market.
“They’ve missed Easter, school holidays, Labour Day weekend, and possibly the June/July school holidays.
“In the tourism sector, once you don’t have people coming through, that business is gone forever, you can never make up that lost trade, never.
“It’s crucial that we lift these restrictions so our region can support the tourism sector.”