Full: Surfside Holiday Park Warrnambool is chockablock. Picture: Morgan Hancock

 Full: Surfside Holiday Park Warrnambool is chockablock. Picture: Morgan Hancock

CARAVAN parks have been inundated with calls from holidaymakers desperate for a Plan B as bushfires burn across popular holiday destinations.

But with so many families making the south-west their annual tradition for decades, burgeoning parks have had to turn people away.

Ray McGillivray from Warrnambool Discovery Parks said their phones had been running hot for weeks.

“We’ve had lots of calls from people in fire-affected areas but we haven’t been able to look after them because we haven’t had the space,” he said.

“We have lots of re-bookers like a lot of parks around here who book each year.

“We’ve been at capacity with about 2800 people a week and have got hardly any space until after the Australia Day weekend.”

It’s the same story at Warrnambool’s Fig Tree Holiday Village.

“We’ve been extremely full, more so than other years and I think that’s partly due to the horrible bush fires,” assistant manager Brian Page said.

“We’ve taken in a few off the road that we wouldn’t normally have had, people who have had their holidays cancelled due to the fires.

“They’ve been taking whatever spots are available and we’re pretty full until Australia Day with a few gaps here and there. We’ve got roughly 400-500 people here, pretty much full capacity.”

Warrnambool City Council chief executive officer Peter Schneider said a small number of sites have become available this week with many holiday-makers returning to work on Monday after an extended Christmas and New Year break.

“After a record-breaking year in 2018-2019 the Surfside and Shipwreck Bay holiday parks have recorded similar numbers so far this summer,” he said.

“At peak periods the holiday parks team services in excess of 1000 camping sites accommodating more than 3000 people.

“The sites won’t be vacant for long, however, as we are already almost entirely booked out at both parks for the Australia Day long weekend.”

Moyne Shire acting economic development and planning director Adam Boyle said Port Fairy had experienced an increase in bookings this summer season.

“Typically, some limited vacancies occur from the second week of January, but we are near 100 per cent booking, with only limited availability between 17 to 23 January,” he said.

“There has also been an increase in enquiries for camp sites during the past two weeks. We believe this is somewhat due to the bushfires and holiday-makers who may have otherwise visited the east of the state, looking for alternate options.”

  • Kyra Gillespie