THE bigger than usual draw down of Lake Mulwala has translated into a tourism bonanza for Yarrawonga-Mulwala on the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
The mid-year long weekend has attracted thousands of visitors and day-trippers keen to take a look at the lake which has been lowered an extra metre to 4.5 metres for even more effective weed control for future use.
The lake will start re-filling next month before returning to regular capacity by mid-August.
Yarrawonga Mulwala Tourism and Business chairman Doug Evans said an empty lake had turned into a bumper weekend for accommodation outlets and food and beverage businesses.
He said the Queen’s Birthday weekend was traditionally the quieter of the holiday periods, but a spike in visitors in the two towns had been noticeable.
“It is emptied every five or six years, but on this occasion it is going down further and has brought a lot of people to the two towns,” Mr Evans said.
“The optics of when it is full compared to when it is empty is so different.
“To see what is under the water also serves as a reminder if the lake is down at all you need to be really careful.”
But an even bigger tourist influx was narrowly missed when the last remaining access to the lake for fishing – the boat ramp near the Yarrawonga Yacht Club in River Road – became inaccessible.
“There have been plenty of sightseers, but not fishermen,” Mulwala fishing identity Tony Bennett said.
“It’s something Goulburn Murray Water needs to look at when they are draining the lake and there is a big weekend coming up.
“If you’ve got motels and food shops it’s not a problem, but when you are relying on fishermen coming here and they don’t turn up it’s not good for business.”
“They just go elsewhere unfortunately.”
The Cumberoona paddlesteamer is also experiencing a case of deja vu in its new home with the lake draw down similar to the low levels of the Murray River in Albury in the late 2000s.
Criterion Hotel publican Loretta Ariano said trade had been strong.
“We did have a lot of people commenting that they came for a drive to see the lake down because they haven’t seen it before,” she said.
“The curiosity is good, but the Winery Walkabout also brings a lot of people in this weekend.”