Big coastal swell

Sea­side towns boom­ing as visi­tors splash out mil­lions

Herald Sun - - NEWS - RE­BEKAH CA­VANAGH re­­[email protected]

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

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