Rain turns Lake Keepit back into water wonderland
It was only six months ago that Chayse and Rylan Smith were pictured riding their carts on the bone-dry Lake Keepit in the state's north.
As the usually popular haven for watersports dried up, so too did the bookings at the holiday park on its banks which their father Leith Smith manages. Today, it has been restored to its former glory as a hotspot for swimmers, skiers and sports fishers.
Along with the water, the tourists are again flowing in.
The 425,000 megalitre-capacity dam, between Tamworth and Gunnedah in the state's north, was at just 1 per cent capacity until recent heavy rainfall.
Reflections Holiday Park manager Mr Smith said his children, and hundreds of tourists, had been enjoying the water that had again filled the lake.
"It's amazing," Mr Smith said. "Over a matter of two or three weeks, all the rivers and dams were filling up and the phone calls and tourists started coming.
"The past few weekends have been non-stop for water skiers and fishermen.
"My kids Chayse and Rylan have been eyeing off the slide on the pontoon for 12 months now. They used to ride their bikes around it and now they can actually swim in there."
Mr Smith said he expects business to continue picking up at least until Easter as people enjoy the last of the warmer weather.
"I'm seeing lots of families and they come and make a full weekend of it," he said.
"I'm assuming the Easter weekend will be quite busy. Last weekend we had more than 200 vehicles here just for day visits, that's not including the people who were staying."
Mr Smith said the drought had been very hard on locals. "We are at 12.1 per cent (capacity) right now and it was at 0.4 per cent 12 months ago."