BUSY TIMES: Garry Cardel (right), with Shardyn Mitchell, Amee Marlow, said tourists flocked to his cafe at the weekend. Picture: Dominic Elsome
BUSY TIMES: Garry Cardel (right), with Shardyn Mitchell, Amee Marlow, said tourists flocked to his cafe at the weekend. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Cafe owners ‘run off feet’ during first relaxed weekend

TOURISTS flocked to the Somerset region at the weekend to make the most of newly eased travel limits.

Until Saturday, people could only travel within a 50km radius of their home, but relaxed restrictions meant anyone within 150km could travel to the region.

The new limits mean city dwellers can travel from Brisbane to anywhere in the Lockyer Valley or Somerset without breaking the law.

As a result, the tourists came in droves.

The staff at a Fernvale cafe were “run off their feet”, welcoming more customers than usual, even when compared to pre-coronavirus numbers.

Tree Change Cafe owner Garry Cardel said business was pumping and widened travel limits had brought more people to his cafe than at the same time last year.

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“It’s exceeding it – it’s far more than usual,” Mr Cardel said.

He said most customers were tourists, the majority of whom had driven to the region from Brisbane.

“More business is good,” he said.

“And with more people comes more business.”

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail president Paul Heymans said the amount of traffic on the rail trail had increased on Saturday and Sunday, especially on the southern section of the trail.

“There were a few people out on the northern part of the trail but I received reports the part between Ipswich and Esk was just humming,” Mr Heymans said.

He said the number of people on the rail trail had grown to such an extent it was busier than it normally was at this time of year.

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“I think people were feeling stir-crazy and it was great to get out,” he said.

After limits were relaxed on May 1 to allow travel within 50km, traffic increased as tourists from areas including Ipswich hit the road.

Now the travel radius is three times as big, this has only increased further.

“If you live in Brisbane or Ipswich, nearly the entire rail trail is within range of the 150km,” Mr Heymans said.

“The Gold Coast is a little far, but some of the rail trail is within range.”

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the 150km radius was a welcome change, especially for local businesses.

“Over the weekend around Fernvale and Lowood, it was very busy and there were a lot of people around,” Cr Lehmann said.

“But everybody seemed to be doing the right thing with social distancing.”


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