Patrick Graham, Pauline Weil and Gail Kirk of the Old Fernvale Bakery Picture: Cordell Richardson
Patrick Graham, Pauline Weil and Gail Kirk of the Old Fernvale Bakery Picture: Cordell Richardson

Where visitors are flocking to as restrictions ease

PEOPLE certainly took the chance to stretch their legs over the weekend as travel restrictions eased and there was no shortage of visitors to Ipswich.

The small rural town of Fernvale was swamped with people as recreational travel was increased to a radius of up to 150km; a reward for sticking to social distancing requirements and slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Local businesses felt the benefit of the new-found freedom.

There was a line around the block on Sunday to get into the Old Fernvale Bakery and the heavy flow of traffic through town didn't stop all weekend.

"It was absolutely crazy," owner Bill Rose said.

"It was absolutely one of our bigger weekends.

"Things are certainly back to normality again.

"It's been unpredictable for everybody. We've had ups and downs. I've never seen so much traffic on the road locally in the last few months."

The business' adjoining cafe was starting to do a good trade through takeaway orders but it could finally welcome back dine-in customers on the weekend.

When restrictions were at their peak, Mr Rose said everyone had suffered.

"We had police basically on either end of the town over a long weekend," he said.

"Our sales were probably down to a third."

But the influx of visitors had given everyone in Fernvale and beyond a boost.

"I have no doubt (the traffic) benefited people far and wide up the Brisbane Valley," he said.

"I would think if you were talking to people in Esk, Toogoolawah and other towns, they all benefited.

"There was certainly a heavy traffic flow. Probably as much as I've seen on a weekend.

"That gave us quite a good day. We're happy with those figures and with the weekend.

"Bakery wise, I don't think we could have coped with too much more business. We would be out of stock of 70 per cent of our pie range. We're talking about thousands both days."

Mr Rose commended the efforts of the Federal Government to try and keep people in work and support those who have been laid off.

But he believed the payments were a "turn off" for some younger people to return to work.

The business is looking to hire as things start to get busier.

"You're not that inspired to go back to work," he said.

"I think we're not getting as many inquiries yet as what we will when those bonuses are taken away."

Barb's Kitchen owner Barbara Frohloff opened up the weekend and said although it had been very busy, it had proven difficult to police restrictions.

"I would have preferred if they had waited until July so we could reopen fully," she said.

Mrs Frohloff said despite telling customers the rules, some had chosen not to follow directions or did not understand.

"It's very hard to control it all," she said.

"There were lots of people in the parks and on the roads.

"The takeaway side of the last four weeks has increased. We're having to increase our stock levels.

"It is good to see it picking up. But I'm still considering whether we just do takeaway only.

"We've had a few people ring up about bookings. When you tell them about the restrictions, they say 'we won't bother'."