Camp and caravan parks relieved to reopen

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
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Cheynes Beach Caravan Park owners Allan and Joanne Marsh.
Camera IconCheynes Beach Caravan Park owners Allan and Joanne Marsh.

Caravan and camping park owners across the Great Southern are breathing a sigh of relief as they reopen their doors to those inside the border.

Cheynes Beach Caravan Park was forced to close for new bookings at the start of April because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Last weekend, it had its first new visitors staying at the park in a month, after the State Government gave its approval for camping to resume last week.

During that month, it had to cancel and turn away bookings for the Easter and the Anzac Day long weekends, which would normally be two of its busiest periods of the year.

During the peak of the salmon season, which brings crowds of people to the beach, the park was left with just three families who were stranded by border closures.

Park owner Allan Marsh said that it was a massive relief to re-open the park.

“Easter we are usually chock-a-block full and it was really quite depressing,” he said.

“We got up the Thursday morning before Easter, when we should be booking in 100 people, and we weren’t doing anything.

“We kept the shop and food van open, and there have been people out over the weekend to keep some money ticking over.

“It is good to see a couple of caravans coming in the driveway now.”

The park has to adhere to social distancing on camp sites and when campers are using amenities.

The park can only take bookings from within the Great Southern and in groups of no more than 10 people.

People were fishing for salmon on the rocks at Cheynes Beach.
Camera IconPeople were fishing for salmon on the rocks at Cheynes Beach.

Mr Marsh encouraged people to get out and explore their region to support struggling local businesses.

“We have got a beautiful beach, with whales, dolphins and the salmon are running,” he said.

“The Great Southern is a great region, and we are certainly not the only place in the region so the sooner people start getting out and about here, the better.

“People will start to spend a little bit of money and things will start ticking along again.

“You can’t underestimate how big of a hit the local tourism industry has had.

“Thank God we are going to be open for the whale season.”

Whales have been spotted started to migrate past the beach in the past week.

Charlie, 4, Dusty, 2, Trudy and Will Marriott spent isolation at the Cheynes Beach Caravan Park.
Camera IconCharlie, 4, Dusty, 2, Trudy and Will Marriott spent isolation at the Cheynes Beach Caravan Park. Credit: Shannon Smith

The Marriott family are one of the three stranded families who have called the park home for almost seven weeks.

They sold their home in Orange, NSW, and set off on a 12-month around-Australia trip just after Christmas.

Will, his wife Trudy and their two sons, Charlie and Dusty, were in Esperance when the lockdown started to get serious.

“It really started to look like lockdown and we thought we needed to bunker down somewhere,” he said.

“Cheynes was on our list. We came here and Allan and Joanne have made us feel like family.

“This area is stunning and there is so much to do and see here.”

Last Friday, the City of Albany reopened its nature-based campsites, warning that police and rangers would monitor public gathering and social distancing rules.

People who had been issued permits during the restrictions could continue to stay at the camp grounds until their permit expired.

The City’s campsites include Cosy Corner, Torbay Inlet, East Bay, Bettys Beach, Normans Beach and Cape Riche.

WA’s national park campsites were also reopened last Friday, including Shelley Beach in West Cape Howe National Park.

Richard Terrell and Lachlan Wilson were catching salmon at Cheynes Beach on Saturday.
Camera IconRichard Terrell and Lachlan Wilson were catching salmon at Cheynes Beach on Saturday. Credit: Shannon Smith

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