Home News ‘We’re so ready’: Farmstays thrilled to throw open gates as lockdown lifts on North Coast

‘We’re so ready’: Farmstays thrilled to throw open gates as lockdown lifts on North Coast

by Mikael Harris
‘We’re so ready’: Farmstays thrilled to throw open gates as lockdown lifts on North Coast

Farmstays on the New South Wales north coast have been busy taking bookings after news the lockdown for the region is lifting tomorrow.

Key points:

  • Tweed farmstay lost 95 per cent of business with the Queensland border closure
  • Bellingen business helped ease local housing crisis
  • Caravan park operators report phones ringing “off the hook”

Kirsty Perry, manager of the Hosanna Farmstay in the Tweed Valley, said they were excited and ready to take overnight and day visitors.

“We were hoping for this, especially with school holidays coming up, so we’ve mobilised our team and we’re ready to go,” she said.

Kirsty and Regan Perry on their farmstay.

Kirsty and Regan Perry manage Hosanna Farmstay at Stokers Siding in the Tweed Valley of northern NSW.(Supplied: Hosanna Farmstay)

Ms Perry said they were only given two hours notice when the state-wide lockdown was announced nearly a month ago.

“We had to walk from campsite to campsite and tell people to pack up and leave while giving them full credit to come back,” she said.

“We’re not a large business, we’re family-run and family-owned, and that’s a huge thing for us to carry on the back of 12 months having to navigate these situations.” 

Farmstay helps housing crisis 

The Bellingen Farmstay on the Coffs Coast has welcomed the lockdown lifting after five months without a booking. 

Fiona Hannaford enjoying a picnic by the river.

Bellingen Farmstay owner Fiona Hannaford enjoying a picnic by the Kalang River on their Coffs Coast property.(Supplied: Bellingen Farmstay)

Owner Fiona Hannaford said that in recent weeks she’s had to re-think her business model and opened to people struggling to find housing.

“We have a DA because we’re a tourist business which means we can only have guests for a maximum period of 12 weeks, so we’ve been very fortunate as we’ve been able to help a few people who’ve got seriously stuck.” 

Ms Hannaford said while she was excited to have tourists return, Queensland visitors would still be restricted.

“Because we are halfway between Sydney and Brisbane we’re really missing the Southern Queensland crew because we’re an hour closer to Brisbane than Sydney,” she said.

Four children sitting on a log in front of a fire facing cattle.

Bellingen Farmstay’s Fiona Hannaford says they are looking forward to welcoming visitors again with news lockdown is lifting this weekend.(Supplied: Bellingen Farmstay)

“With Queensland school holidays, usually they’re slightly different, you get an extra week and so you get an extra little bite of the cherry when the Queensland’s border is open in respect of their school holiday period.” 

While Queensland will open its border to essential workers from 1:00am on Monday, Ms Perry wants the border bubble extended to allow other travellers into the region.

“Ninety-five per cent of our business comes from over the border, that’s already a huge gut punch at the start and then to be locked down for a month on top of that,” she said.

Calls aplenty to caravan parks

Caravan parks on the Mid North and North Coast have been fielding hundreds of phone calls since the news of easing restrictions broke.

North Coast Reflections Park operations manager Jennifer Scot said phones went “off the hook” across parts of the state that are coming out of lockdown.

“We had 660 calls to parks that are able to open up tomorrow,” she said. 

A caravan sits near the water's edge, with a dog sitting next to it.

Caravan parks across the mid-north coast and north coast have been inundated with calls from travellers wanting to visit.(Supplied: Erin Secomb)

Ms Scott said caravan parks are well-prepared to comply with COVID-safe measures, after almost two years of the pandemic.

“As far as the four-square metre rule, two-square metre rule, COVID declaration forms, the COVID wipe down, we’re so ready,” she said.

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