Dartmouth accommodation bookings double as tourists flock to see rare dam spill

A Dartmouth accommodation business has welcomed a significant rise in tourist numbers as visitors flock to see the local dam overturn and confidence in travel returns after COVID-19 restrictions.

Community groups and the local pub had already seen an increase in visitation before the Dartmouth dam spilled for the first time in 26 years this week.

The local motor hostel has seen a dramatic increase in bookings over the past month.

Co-owner Chris Ormrod said the majority of his 18 rooms had been booked during this time.

“There is a lot of interest in this spill at the dam,” he said.

“We had loads of phone inquiries and after that the bookings really took off which has been great.”

Other factors at play

Mr Ormrod said current bookings were around double the hostel’s usual figures.

But he said there were a number of other factors contributing to the rise in numbers besides interest in the dam spill.

“The last two years have obviously been very difficult,” he said.

“We took over the motel just before COVID, so we only really saw the motel operating under COVID conditions.”

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Dartmouth dam spills for the first time in 26 years(ABC Goulburn-Murray: Annie Brown)

Mr Ormrod said it had also been fairly quiet in the winter months.

“The fishing probably isn’t as good in those colder months because the fish tend, from what I understand, to go lower and deeper which is a lot harder to catch,” said he declared.

“So we’re starting to see now, and it’s probably fortuitous that the dam is overflowing, that a lot of tourists [are] come back, but they come back stronger because the confidence in traveling is also back.”

Advantages of the region

Towong Shire Mayor Andrew Whitehead said the council had put up a sign in Eskdale, 50 miles west of Dartmouth, to inform drivers of an increase in the number of cars on the road and to drive in the conditions.

He said it was a very exciting time for the region.

“For weeks before the water actually spilled, a lot of people were traveling just to take a look in the hopes that maybe it was their day when the water ran out,” said he declared.

“Since the water passed [it’s] increased again.

“It’s a good thing for the whole county, but especially for the Mitta Valley.”

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