It may feel like it, but things aren’t back to normal. Here’s how to travel responsibly in regional areas now that restrictions have lifted.
This is the weekend we’ve been dreaming about for months. Campgrounds and national parks are open and we’re legally allowed to travel wherever we want within our state, for whatever reason. Freedom tastes oh so sweet!
And although it may feel like everything’s back to how it used to be, for many small towns, welcoming visitors back won’t look the same. Here’s how to be a responsible traveller in regional towns.
Spend Money With Local Businesses
As tempting as it is to roll in hot to your favourite free campsite, now more than ever, rural communities could do with those extra couple of bucks in your wallet. Rather than trying to get through a weekend away spending as little dosh as possible, why not ‘stimulate the economy’ and splash some cash?
This is the time to treat yourself to those little luxuries you’d usually go without.
Pay that bit extra to hire a kayak from the local tour operator, or better yet pay for a tour guide. Splurge on that bottle of wine from the local cellar door. Luxe out in a cosy cabin rather than huddling for warmth in your tent.
Hot tip! Check out our Adventure Tours page to find an adventure tour operator near you!
At the very least, consider where your money is going in these local towns. Seek out businesses that have been especially hard hit by the bush fires or COVID-19. Buy your groceries from the local grocer rather than a supermarket giant. Fill up at a privately owned petrol station rather than a Caltex.
And always, ALWAYS buy a pie from the local bakery. That’s a must.
Adhere to Social Distancing Better Than You Would at Home
Although restrictions have relaxed a lot recently, don’t become complacent. Regional towns and communities are about to get a surge of tourists from major cities, with bigger crowds than they’ve seen all year.
Make sure you’re up to date with the latest social distancing rules and stick to ‘em! Be conscious of how many people are around you on the street, in shops, cafes and pubs and even outdoors. Don’t gather in large groups in public, sanitise and stay home if you’re sick.
Respect The Locals
Many rural communities and small towns may be worried about the incoming influx of people. Be conscious of how locals are feeling and respect that they may be more worried about this virus than you!
Say g’day and have a yarn but be conscious of how you act in their community. Ultimately they’re the ones more at risk than you are.
Plan and Book Ahead
Don’t just rock up to a town late on a Friday night and expect to find a place to stay. Plan ahead and book in advance – whether it’s a campsite, room in a hotel, dinner reservation or adventure tour, call up well before you plan to be there and make sure that there’s space for you.
Not only are businesses limited to the number of people they can cater to at one time, they’re also going to be brimming with tourists looking for food, fun and a place to lay their heads. Don’t disappoint yourself!
Be patient and cooperative, but most importantly, be proactive.
Seek out Indigenous Information, Experiences and Businesses
Educate yourself on the Aboriginal history of the area you’re visiting. A stop off at the local tourist information centre or national park office could help you out with this.
Take an Indigenous guided tour or find a local Indigenous business to spend a bit of mullah with. Help these communities recover from the bush fires but also, show your support and solidarity with them too. They have much to teach us and we’ve got plenty to learn.
Visit Somewhere off the Tourist Path
Some towns are gonna get love no matter what. Run your finger over a map, land it on a town you’ve never been to before and go there instead. Even better if it’s an area that’s been hard hit with fires. There’ll be fewer crowds and every cent you spend will be cherished that little bit more.
The land’s been doing it tough lately. Although many bushfire affected areas may look green and bushy again, that doesn’t mean they’re safe to return to. The environment still needs more time to heal and there may still be a risk of falling trees and branches.
Before you go anywhere near the bush, make sure that the area is actually open. Check the national parks and state forest websites for your state for the full list of park closures and don’t enter closed areas.