Stranded visitors make best of wet

MANY road travellers unable to reach holiday destinations in flood affected centres played it safe and stayed in Coffs Harbour this week.

With the New England, Pacific, Bruxner and Gwydir highways temporarily closed mid-week, the Coffs Coast Visitor Information Centre was inundated with inquiries.

“We certainly were an information centre this week, each day we arrived to find what we called the 9am rush, with people queuing outside the doors, trying to find out if and when they could reach Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and other destinations in Queensland,” Coffs Coast Visitor Information Centre manager Brian Bowers said.

“Tourist coaches finally got through all of the flooded sections of highway on Thursday night while some passengers with accommodation booked in Byron Bay caught the train to Casino and made their own way over to the coast.”

A week of showers put a bit of a dampener on many holidaymakers’ stays on the Coffs Coast, but many were relieved flooding was only minor.

The Bellinger River Caravan Park at Repton was evacuated on Tuesday as floodwaters peaked at 6.25m on Tuesday. Falls of more than 120mm over a 36-hour period saw the Bellinger break its banks.

Park manager Tracey Patterson said the 24-hour evacuation of campers was a precautionary measure, which unfortunately coincided with the holiday season.

“The river broke its banks, but didn’t even cover our lowest campsites, given the amount of young children we had in the park we definitely made the right decision,” Ms Patterson said.

“We are now back open for business and a lot of our campers have since returned,” she said.

In Coffs Harbour, one Victorian family wasn’t about to let the rain ruin its annual holiday.

“It’s the break that we look forward to as a family every year,” mother-of-three Fleur Boal said. “We don’t really mind the rain, there’s the issue of mud but apart from that we are still having fun here in Coffs Harbour.

“This is what camping with the kids is all about.”

The Coffs Coast Visitor Information Centre fielded a number of calls from campers staying in tents in national parks. After almost a week of rain, some reportedly pulled up the pegs and booked motel rooms desperate for warm beds and hot showers.

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