Blue skies ahead as holidaymakers return to the Victoria area

Spicy Duck Thai restaurant co-owner Nathan Murphy said it was a joy to be busy again and welcome familiar customers again.

Thai restaurant co-owner Nathan Murphy was happy to welcome back past customers.Credit:Penny stephens

“We saw a lot of people that we haven’t seen for a while,” he said. “It was great.”

But a certain nervousness remains. Mr Murphy worries he will have to shut down the business for an extended period if it becomes a site of exposure to COVID-19 because it employs too few people to work in separate shifts.

“This is the only concern. If this ever happened to us once, we should seriously think about sticking to take out food until this rule is changed.

In Inverloch, Fairfield academic and performer Dina Kerr basked in the sun, watching her children Noah and Heidi wade through shallow water.

She booked a vacation as soon as Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced the rules would be relaxed, allowing Melburnians to travel anywhere across the state.

Noah Kerr and his sister Heidi are enjoying their break in Inverloch.

Noah Kerr and his sister Heidi are enjoying their break in Inverloch. Credit:Penny stephens

They found a home on Airbnb where they will stay until Tuesday. “It wasn’t cheap, but we didn’t care – it got to this point,” she said.

Ms Kerr said she felt welcome in the coastal town from the moment her family arrived.

“It’s such a nice and relaxed atmosphere. People are so nice, ”she said. “It’s really cool, there’s that welcoming community atmosphere.”

A little further along the beach, Dan Robinson was enjoying a great family catch-up that included two grandparents, three siblings with partners and eight grandchildren. It was their first family reunion in months.

Holidaymakers are relishing their stay at Inverloch after Melbourne's extended lockdown.

Holidaymakers are relishing their stay at Inverloch after Melbourne’s extended lockdown. Credit:Penny stephens

“We met in a park in Cranbourne in July and that was the last time we saw each other,” he said.

On Sunday, the family group waded in turquoise waters while a game of cricket on the beach was played nearby.

The family is split between Warragul, Pakenham, Cranbourne and Clyde, making Inverloch an easy meeting place.

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Mr Robinson said the children missed seeing each other. “They definitely want a little more normalcy again.”

Mr Robinson plans to head to Walhalla for another quiet break on Tuesday as much of the state is distracted by the Melbourne Cup.

On the Great Ocean Road, Anglesea’s President of Business and Tourism, Damien Cerantonio, said the town was getting back to its holiday mojo.

“It really feels like a normal long weekend,” he said. “The atmosphere is great. Everybody is happy.”

While some vacationers have had to cancel reservations due to the blackouts on Friday, Mr Cerantonio said most customers arrived on Saturday.

“Fortunately it was only one day and we haven’t had any problems since our return.”

Surf Coast Shire advisor Mike Bodsworth, who represents Anglesea, said there was some nervousness among residents about the influx of Melburnians, but that they were also keen to welcome people again .

“My observation has always been that locals like to see visitors happy,” he said.

Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism chief executive Angela Cleland said visitors had flocked to the area but some areas, including Red Hill, were still struggling with power outages caused by last week’s storm. “It’s disappointing for the [affected] companies, of course. They have been locked up for so long, ”she said.

She said emergency services appeared to be trying to repair the damage as quickly as they could.

Southern Grampians Shire Mayor Mary-Ann Brown said hotel operators were busy in the popular town of Dunkeld, once again welcoming Melburnians and guests from other parts of the Victoria area.

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