AY BORUMBA! Dam tourism almost doubles in three years
BORUMBA dam is beating at the heart of a Mary Valley tourism boom with the waterhole's visitor numbers almost doubling over the past three years.
According to data from dam manager Seqwater, visitor numbers have jumped 42 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year, soaring from about 68,000 to at least 97,000 in 2016-17.
Further, in the two months from December 5, 2016 to February 26, 2017 more than 28,000 people made the dam a part of their holiday itinerary.
Imbil business leaders have welcomed the growth, which has helped revitalise an area kicked around by the Rattler's closure and the Traveston Dam debacle.
Acting Mary Valley Chamber of Commerce president Janelle Walker said the increased popularity was beginning to show.
"Parking is starting to become an issue at the peak times,” she said.
While the closure of the Island Reach Resort was hurting this year, Mrs Walker was nevertheless excited by the ongoing commitment being made to Imbil.
This included business owners which had been approached ahead of the Rattler's return, a bonus as the trip will no longer be stopping at the town like it once did.
"The confidence being shown in the area is fantastic,” she said.
And Lake Borumba is only one of the region's draw cards, she said, joined by the area's growing food industry and culture and ecotourism.
In fact, it was this last item which Borumba Deer Park co-owner Col Huddy said needed to be embraced.
He hoped governing bodies would expand their market to include activities for people who were attracted to the region's waterholes, but did not what to go out on or dive in them.
And it was not just the dam dripping with potential.
"Imbil gets very little use out of the creek,” he said.
While he questioned Seqwater's numbers, and believed the growth was more likely 10 per cent, Mr Huddy nonetheless supported the body's effort to put the town back on top for tourists.
"Growth is good,” Mr Huddy said.
"Despite the absence of the Rattler, Imbil is doing well.”
According to Seqwater Water Source Services manager, Rob Drury, the Mary Valley dam was one of their top attractions.
"Borumba continues to be one of our most popular fishing and skiing dams,” Mr Drury said.
"Investments Seqwater has made to upgrade the existing boat ramp, with the Stage 2 upgrade completed before the Christmas holidays, have significantly improved public safety and accessibility.
"The local Imbil community has also embraced the benefits of tourism and has well and truly put out the welcome mat which has encouraged visitation.”
While Seqwater needed to be "prudent” about its financial support, Mr Drury said the continued interest in its lakes and parks was a key reason for the recent $500,000 investment at the Borumba Dam Camping Grounds.
"Seqwater will continue to work with the local Imbil community, our new campsite operators, as well as National Parks, which manage lands connecting Borumba Dam, to support local tourism activities and ventures.”