Big coastal swell
Seaside towns booming as visitors splash out millions
VICTORIA’S most popular seaside towns are expected to more than triple in size as visitors flock to the coast for the holiday season.
Tourism figures show the Surf Coast’s population of 26,800 swells to 83,500 during the summer months.
An extra 75,000 vacationers jostle their way down the Mornington Peninsula, tipping the region’s population to more than 200,000 and injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.
The Surf Coast town of Lorne, which hosts the Falls Festival on New Year’s Eve and the popular Pier to Pub open water swimming race in early January, has the biggest coastal surge, peaking at 15,954 people — 10 times the town’s permanent population.
Nearby Anglesea is also transformed into a bustling seaside village, with the town’s population of 2487 ballooning to 14,739.
Surf Coast shire chief executive Stephen Wall said it was a positive time for businesses, with tourism worth $163 million in the area annually.
“It’s very busy. There’s lots of people. The caravan parks and holiday homes are booked out, the restaurants are doing a roaring trade,” he said.
He welcomed the influx of visitors but admitted it could be challenging for residents, particularly when going to the supermarket or trying to get a carpark.
On the Peninsula, hundreds of families yesterday converged on camping grounds and beach houses following their Christmas Day festivities.
It is a family tradition for the Keenan and McCallum families to pitch their tents over the school holidays at Rosebud.
“We’re here for six weeks — we’ve been coming to Rosebud for five years now,” said fatherof-three Steve Keenan, from Frankston South.
“We get the same spot each year and it’s the same campers.
“We go to the beach everyday when the weather is good, the kids ride their bikes around, there’s a lot to do.”
Beach House Rentals director Glen Begley said it was the busiest summer she had experienced, with 200-odd holiday homes she manages along the Peninsulabooked out until the end of January.
She said yesterday was “chaotic” as it was the main check-in day for families.
“Everyone usually arrives after Christmas and Boxing Day,” she said.
“The population in Sorrento is about 3500. This becomes about 40,000 at this time of year. It increases every year. ”
Mornington Peninsula Shire official Todd Trimble said the region experienced a “massive population explosion” at this time of year.
Melbourne friends jam into a tent at a Torquay caravan park. Tourism is worth $163 million annually to the Surf Coast economy. Picture: ALISON WYND