Michelle & John Cobb & Will, Durham Downs.jpg
Michelle & John Cobb & Will, Durham Downs.jpg

Outback tourism ready for reboot

SOME outback tourism drawcards are reopening as restrictions ease while others plan head for their turn.

Riversands Wines at St George will reopen its cafe for sit down meals, with some wine tasting at the table.

However the Great Artesian Spa at Mitchell remains closed, with no date set, as the Maranoa council devises a reopening strategy.

Riversands Wines owner David Blacket has already taken bookings and said he hoped to see more people from the region drop by for a meal and drink.

“This will certainly lift things a bit more which is great and we can seat up to 20 in our garden which makes it easier for social distancing,”

said Mr Blacket.

“But at this stage we are limited to local and regional visitors and it won’t be until all of Queensland opens that we’ll see significant visitors from southeast Queensland which is what we desperately need.”

Mr Blacket said Riversands had been open throughout the shutdown period, offering takeaway meals and wine but there had been very few customers venturing to the outback vineyard.

The business’s takings dropped dramatically by about 70 per cent. The only silver lining was a boost in online sales of alcohol which quadrupled.

“We had very little cellar door trade, no shows or festivals which is about 25 per cent of our wine sales and pubs and clubs were shut or limited,” he said.

Riversands also relies heavily on visitors from the southeast corner and interstate which came to an end when travel restrictions were enforced.

All of Mr Blacket’s staff were able to qualify for the federal government’s JobKeeper payment.

Mr Blacket said May to September was usually the busiest time of the year.

“I think there will be a slight increase in activity; it won’t be huge but hopefully by around mid-July there will be a more significant change when people are allowed to travel further.”

Articles contributed today by Kat Donaghey were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.


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