Boom time in Bellingen
By UTE SCHULENBERG
BUSINESS has been booming in Bellingen this January.
Cloudy days and cooler weather have meant visitors have chosen to explore outside Coffs Harbour's city limits, heading in particular up the Waterfall Way to Bellingen and beyond.
Dorrigo Rainforest Centre manager Kathryn Wood said visitor numbers to the national park were between 750 and 800 daily, which was definitely up on last year.
Kevin Doye, from Bellingen's Kombu Wholefoods, said this January had seen all their previous sales records broken.
"We've had our busiest day, week, month ever," Mr Doye said. "There have been a lot of people in town and many of them are keen to buy locally."
And newsagent Gary Howe said every board game in the shop sold out over the Christmas/New Year period.
Real estate in the valley has been brisk.
Tom Sheridan from L.J.Hooker, Bellingen, said both house and small acreage sales had been strong.
"Normally we get a lot of tyre kickers but we've had some good sales and constant enquiries," Mr Sheridan said.
"There have been a lot of people wanting to make lifestyle changes, particularly from Melbourne."
Urunga Visitor Information Centre volunteer Adele Moon said she had noticed fewer families this year.
"We've still been run off our feet but there seem to have been more couples without kids," Mrs Moon said. "Perhaps petrol prices have meant some families have not gone on their annual holiday."
According to Brian Bowers, manager of the Coffs Coast Visitor Information Centre, the Coffs Coast continued to be a popular destination for families this summer.
"The two weeks after Christmas were exceptionally strong but numbers eased after that," Mr Bowers said.
"Over the peak period there were some nights when we couldn't find a bed for everyone and the resorts reported a strong Christmas/New Year period.
"The main attractions, such as the Big Banana, all benefitted from the cloudy weather when visitors were looking for alternatives to the beach."
He said last week's warmer weather and lower tariffs had brought some renewed interest.