Shock closure sparks action to save Christmas trade
A DESPERATE attempt to keep valuable Christmas trade in a hinterland town has seen the gates of the Imbil Showgrounds cast open to campers.
Business figures and the Mary Valley Show Society were forced into action over the past fortnight, after the popular Island Reach Camping Resort confirmed its closure on December 8.
Having operated since the early-1990s, the closure of the popular 4.4ha lush camping ground which fronts Yabba Creek came as a blow to Mary Valley businesses.
Show society president Barry Grainger said the camping resort attracted hundreds of campers to the town over the crucial Christmas-New Year trade period, boosting Imbil businesses.
He said the closure of the camping ground had left many facing a grim festive period, so the decision was made to throw open the Imbil Showgrounds for camping.
The decision has created about 50 powered sites and another 10 acres of self-maintained camp sites are available.
Mr Grainger said they'd had to move quickly after it all "blew up" in the past fortnight.
"The whole business community, our income over the Christmas period is going to be way down if the people at Island Reach aren't there," he said.
"It's a huge boost to the community."
Only one street off the main street, the Showgrounds are about a three-minute walk from the centre of town and only a short stroll from the recreation area at popular Yabba Creek.
Mr Grainger said it was the first time the Showgrounds had been opened up as a general camping area.
He hoped it would only be a temporary measure and that Island Reach would reopen again.
The Gympie Times reported in November that Island Reach had been one of a number of properties to be sold by the Gympie Regional Council due to being in arrears paying rates.
As far as Mr Grainger was aware that sale hadn't gone ahead though.
"It was very popular," he said of the camping resort, which he added had changed hands a number of years ago.
"It's been running for a long time."
He said the temporary camping set up at the showgrounds had been cleared by the council, as there was showers and toilets on site.
He advised people wishing to come and camp to book with himself on 0427 890 520 or Laura from Mary Valley Traders on 5488 6963.
Camp sites are $15 per night and powered sites are an extra $5 per night.
Mr Grainger advised campers to bring their own barbecue and cooking equipment and any wood fires had to be elevated off the ground to protect the showgrounds.