Recent reports of blue-green algae at Lake Eppalock haven't stopped hundreds of holiday-makers flocking to the popular recreation spot.
When the Bendigo Advertiser dropped by on Thursday plenty of water sport enthusiasts were making the most of 30-plus degree weather.
Seizing the moment
MELBOURNE man Michael Skabla rose at 4am in anticipation of a day trip to Lake Eppalock.
He hadn’t heard about reports of blue-green algae at the popular leisure spot before he set off, nor was he fazed by them when he arrived.
“For me, this is too clean to have algae,” Mr Skabla said.
Signs of the blooms were scant around the spot he had chosen to set up for the day.
But the warning issued by Goulburn-Murray Water earlier this month was still in place.
The authority warned members of the public to avoid contact with water in Lake Eppalock after high levels of blue-green algae were detected.
A warning was also issued for Cairn Curran Reservoir, another of the region’s popular recreational areas.
GMW anticipated the alerts would be in effect until at least January 12.
Mr Skabla had already caught his first fish for the day when the Bendigo Advertiser arrived at the lake.
Looking out to the horizon, across the water, he showed no signs of leaving anytime soon.
‘It’s a good spot for the kids’
Accommodation providers were confident annual visitors to Lake Eppalock would still choose to spend the summer at their sites, despite the algae warning.
While some holiday-makers had cancelled their plans, Lake Eppalock Holiday Park and Lakeshore Caravan Park were largely booked-out for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Children were at the forefront of many visitors’ minds, saying they preferred the inland water body to beaches.
Cost was also a factor in the popularity of the holiday parks.
For the price of a week-long, beach-side holiday in Queensland, Martin Roberts said he and his family could hire an annual site at Lake Eppalock Holiday Park.
“There’s a lot more to do, for the kids,” Mr Roberts said.
He said the park had changed a lot in the three years since he and his Melbourne-based family had been holidaying there, with the addition of the swimming pool and other activities.
And it continued to change, with ongoing improvements to the facilities.
Lounging in a poolside deck chair, Mr Roberts appeared untroubled by the blue-green algae alert.
He said there were plenty of things to do at the park without even considering the lake.
Fellow park guests were enjoying water sports such as boating, including Jess Newbold and her parents.
She said they had seen a bit of algae in the water.
“But it’s not enough to do any damage,” the 19-year-old said.
Jeanette Newbold said the family had been to Lake Eppalock before when there had been algae.
But she wasn’t particularly concerned by what she had seen this year.
Algae or no algae, many people were intending to bring in the new year at the lake.
Among them were Maria Tomlinson and her family.
She and her husband fell in love with the spot years ago, having previously had a caravan along the Murray River.
Ms Tomlinson’s husband now works at the Lake Eppalock Holiday Park.
One of the park’s owners, Lisa Rose, said bookings had stayed ‘fairly good’ despite the algae warning.
“Melbourne people have definitely been deterred,” she said.
Plans for a charity fishing competition benefiting Mosquito Creek Fire Brigade, on Saturday, will go ahead as planned.
Lakeshore Caravan Park manager Allison Allen said the park had been really busy in recent days.
“Everyone’s having a good time,” she said.
She said the algae was not obvious from looking at the water on the park’s shores.
“A lot of people call up and ask how bad it is,” Ms Allen said.
Most of the park’s water comes from the lake, with the exception of drinking water.