Businesses in Stirling Range National Park get back on track after challenging time

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Darren Fisher and Virginia Hammer.
Camera IconDarren Fisher and Virginia Hammer. Credit: Albany Advertiser

One year on from the Stirling Range National Park bushfires which closed Bluff Knoll, business is booming.

The double blow of the fires and COVID-19 regional travel restrictions made the start of 2020 a testing time for businesses around the Stirling Range.

With a new-look walking trail on Bluff Knoll and many West Australian visitors, the national park is busy.

The Stirling Range Retreat was not damaged by the blaze that razed 40,000ha last summer but the business lost most of its customers until Bluff Knoll reopened in May.

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Owner Virginia Hammer said business was now better than in a normal year.

“A lot of people are out exploring and we have had guests come back who were evacuated at the time to see it a year on,” she said.

“With COVID as well, a lot more people are travelling in their backyard.

“We aren’t booked out now, but certainly over the Christmas and new year’s period we were — and summer holidays have been steady. It is making us feel like we are back on the right track.”

Mt Trio Bush Camp and Caravan Park owner Margot Byrnes said there had been a flow of visitors since the regional borders reopened.

“West Australians are really enjoying exploring the Stirlings,” she said.

“It was a pretty rocky start but things turned around mid-year and have improved.

“The new tracks, four of them, which opened the same weekend as the borders, worked out beautifully and we have had steady visitation since.”

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