The slow early arrival of grey nomads to Katherine has finally become a flood, according to most local caravan parks.
With the peak of the tourist season now upon us, most of the caravan parks are booked out every night.
Some parks are now saying this year is busier than last.
But not all agree with one saying high fuel prices and hefty overnight fees in the Territory are contributing to a dip in visitor numbers passing through Katherine.
Riverview Tourist Village manager Wendy Batten said their caravan site is booked out every night two days in advance.
“I think it is the fact that the weather is so perfect,” Mrs Batten said.
“People are staying for longer periods of time, up to seven days, whereas in the past it is usually only two or three,” she said.
“And we’re finding not as many people are going to Darwin this year … they are hovering here and then going west.”
Mrs Batten said the multitude of “things going on” in Katherine at the moment are bringing in the crowds.
Manager of the Manbulloo Homestead, Bronwyn Trebbin, said the dry season period was “extremely busy last year and the same this year”.
“Overall, it looks like we will have a better season this year,” she said.
Many visitors are fully across the PFAS water contamination crisis.
“It is on WikiCamp …We tell everyone, every day, we’re saying it 50 times a day that you can’t drink our water,” Ms Trebbin said, of their reliance on bore and now the town’s treated supplies.
“Most people are fine with it, we make sure they have full [water] tanks before they arrive.
“A lot of people don’t have a clue what PFAS actually is,” she said.
Ms Trebbin said that their business may also be attributed to their out-of-town location and lower prices.
Overall, it looks like we will have a better season this year- Bronwyn Trebbin
“We have had comments that some say they feel safer out of town, where break-ins are less likely to happen,” she said.
Not all caravan parks are hitting numbers like last year, though.
Numbers checking in at the council-run Katherine Visitor Centre have been trending down in recent months.
Total numbers for April were 5555, down 30 per cent on the same month the year before.
Tourist visitors for May were 11,360, a fall of 13 per cent on the year before.
June and July are traditionally the peak months for tourists in Katherine.
Small in comparison, but still full every day, Boab Caravan Park manager Kel Holt said they “feel the season is not as intense as other years”.
“Although the park is booked out, the phone is not ringing off the hook,” Ms Holt said.
High fuel prices and lofty overnight fees are keeping grey nomads away, she said.
She said travellers are free-camping to off set high fuel prices.
“A big catch cry is that it is so much more expensive than down south, with power expenses driving that nightly price up,” Ms Holt said.
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