20 April, 2021
Tourism boom: The attraction of Yaraka
EVER heard the ‘boom’ of an emu close up? Yaraka offers tourists a unique, up close and personal emu experience.
The Longreach Leader recently travelled to Yaraka, where local businesses are gearing up for what is tipped to be their busiest tourist season yet.
We caught up with Yaraka Hotel owners and operators Chris and Gerry Gimblett to give us a run down on what the town had to offer.
MASS OF BOOKINGS
Yaraka offers visitors a range of experiences including the glittering gemfields, gold fossicking and a multitude of attractions like Mt Slowcombe boasting a sealed road to its summit, making it easily accessible even for cars.
Yaraka is a fossickers paradise with boulder opal and gold scattered upon many of the local mountain formations and lowlands.
Not only does Mt Slowcombe offer 360 views it also has excellent facilities to enhance the experience for keen holiday makers and the experience has previously been compared to the majesty of the Northern Territory’s Kakadu.
“When the [tourism] season really starts, we have a courtesy bus and do a trip up to Mount Slowcombe and we have a rule that you have to book ahead,” Mr Gimblett said.
“It’s all looking very positive; we’re getting more and more interest than ever and the bus is already booked up and that’s never happened before either.”
This Easter the hotel has seen the most bookings in its history.
“We’ve had calls and emails, we’re fortunate that Yaraka is so successful just from word of mouth,” Mr Gimblett said.
Mr Gimblett said the day after COVID-19 restrictions lifted the tourists came in strobes and they just keep coming.
“We ended up with three caravans here from the Sunshine Coast, we’re not sure how they got here so fast but from then on they’ve just kept coming,” he said.
“I believe we are in for a huge surge of tourists, particularly in these regions.
“The tourists don’t want to leave and go back to the coast; they are scared of the crowds on the coast with the coronavirus.”
THE BIG BIRDS
The resident emus are very tame and come right up to the door of Yaraka Hotel in intervals during the day and night for a social hello and hope of treats from visitors.
“We have had some wonderful publicity with the ABC and Australian Story coming here back in the mid 2000s, we went national and the emus went worldwide,” Mr Gimblett said.
Not only tourists are visiting the emus at Yaraka, this famous little town had enticed overnighters from across the local region too.
Yaraka’s historical sites pay homage to the old saying that ‘Australia grew on the sheep’s back’.
Changes to property ownership and severe droughts has meant that entire region has been under a huge degree of economic pressure.
Mr Gimblett predicted that the post-COVID face of outback tourism has had and will have a major impact.
“There’s going to be a lot of caravans on the roads so watch out, caravan sales have gone up and [tourists] like the wide-open spaces, I think coronavirus is going to have an enormous number of benefits for tourism in the outback and tourism in general,” he said.
“We’re expecting a very busy year and we are going to get extra staff.”
Merv Bacon, a grey nomad staying at the camping area said he wouldn’t miss his chance to stop and stay in Yaraka.
“I’m here for nine days and I absolutely love the place,” he said.
“I’m going from here to Isisford, then to Ilfracombe, then Longreach and onto Winton for the Way Out West festival.
“I came here about four years ago and just loved it; we saw that they had the emus here on ABC.
“I had to check the emus out here up close and personal.
“For $5 a day to camp, it is just magical, just unbelievable.”