Dunkeld ready to bounce back after Grampians fires keep tourists away 

DUNKELD is pinning hopes on a quick recovery of tourist numbers after visitors were scared off by last week’s fires in the Grampians. 

Hundreds of firefighters managed to contain the massive blaze in the northern Grampians last night, with 52,000 hectares burnt.

Roads to Halls Gap and the national park have reopened. 

Southern Grampians Shire visitor services co-ordinator Mary McArthur said the impact on Dunkeld was expected to be short-lived. “There was a 19 per cent reduction in tourism numbers recorded at Dunkeld from Thursday until Monday, compared with visitation over the previous two weeks,” Ms McArthur said. 

“The Grampians National Park is now open. All roads, walks and campsites in the southern Grampians between Dunkeld and Halls Gap are open.

“All Dunkeld and southern Grampians businesses are operating as usual.”

A CFA spokesman said the blaze north of Halls Gap was officially contained at 6 o’clock last night.

He said a number of spot fires were also extinguished yesterday afternoon in the Mount Abrupt area, north of Dunkeld.

“The mild conditions certainly helped with the firefighting efforts around Halls Gap compared to what we saw last week,” the spokesman said.

“Looking over the next few days, most of the work will be focused on assessing property around the fire-impacted region and checking the safety of houses in the area.

“Another problem we face is trees on the roads north of Halls Gap. A number of trees have fallen on to the roads, either completely or partially blocking the way.”

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley told Fairfax radio he believed Halls Gap had dodged a bullet, with the fire front getting dangerously close to the tourist town.

He said a small number of homeowners elected to stay during the peak fire period overnight Friday.

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