November 22, 2014 – 11:30PM
Reporter at The Canberra Times
Back again: Rebekah Matthews and her four-year-old daughter Maddy Matthews-James at Batehaven Beach in NSW Photo: Matthew Bedford
The surf boards are waxed and the chips are in the fryer, as Canberrans’ eyes turn once again to the sandy beaches and clear skies of the NSW south coast.
Rebekah Matthews and her two children, Casey, 4, and Maddy, 2, came all the way from England to enjoy the beaches at Batemans Bay, where she grew up years ago.
“They’re stunning, all down the coast they have really nice ones. Surf Beach is nice for the kids as well as Broulee. [Plus] they have lots of things for kids, even play equipment, which they didn’t have when I was young,” Ms Matthews said.
Casey Matthews-James, 4, of Buckhurst Hill, England enjoys a beautiful day at the beach in Batemans Bay. Photo: Matt Bedford
More than 100,000 Canberrans, or close to a third of the population of the ACT, will make the annual pilgrimage down the Kings Highway this holiday season, as the bush capital reverts once again to a Christmas ghost town.
A spokeswoman for Eurobodalla Shire Council, which takes in Batemans Bay, said Canberrans represented the third largest source of visitors to the south coast, behind Sydney and regional NSW.
She said of the average 662,000 visitors to the shire every year, an estimated 28 per cent were from the ACT or 185,000 people.
Maddy, 2, and Casey Matthews-James, 4, of Buckhurst Hill England enjoy a beautiful day at the beach in Batemans Bay. Photo: Matt Bedford
“Canberra has always been an extremely important market for Eurobodalla and the major towns of Batemans Bay, Moruya, Narooma and all the small villages in between,” she said.
“We should also note that many Canberrans own a holiday house or stay with friends and relatives. These visitors are not easily captured in the statistics but none they less represent an enormous financial injection into the local economy.”
Berny’s Fish and Chips at Batehaven owner Sharryn Connell said the summer was their busiest time of the year, seeing visitors from Melbourne and Sydney as well as Canberra.
She said they put on up to seven extra staff to feed masses of beach goers coming through their doors in December and January.
“They’ve always said the population triples in Batemans Bay triples when the holidays are on,” she said, laughing.
“We have our regular Canberra people who also come down all through the year as well, a lot of them have holidays homes here. They’re sort of like transient locals to us.”
Mrs Connell said during the summer months her business turned out hundreds of orders of seafood, including homemade prawn cutlets, garlic prawns, potato cakes and homemade chips.
However, she said people could get a bit impatient when they were on holiday. “They have to remember it’s a small town. You feel a lot of pressure during the holidays,” she said.
Clyde View Holiday Park owner Carol Carver, who has been catering for the Batemans Bay holiday rush for more than 25 years, said she expected almost 100 per cent occupancy over summer.
She said people usually started to come to the coast at the beginning of December and it didn’t taper off till the middle of January.
“I think it’s been on a steady decrease over the past few years but certainly this year is looking to be a lot better,” she said.
“We welcome the Canberra people, absolutely, and we’re the first place you come to on the coast – when you get to the bottom of the Clyde, there’s Batemans Bay.”
Batemans Bay Mini Golf managers Debbie Longworth and Gavin Heran said dozens of families would play through their course every day during summer.
Ms Longworth said they had been out painting and preparing the course for the rush in December and January.
“If it wasn’t for Canberra visitors it would be very quiet here. We originally asked people when we opened where they had heard about us and they usually just said, ‘We’re from Canberra’,” she said.
Source : The Canberra Times