THE region’s dams are usually busy with excitement at this time of year, but low water levels have put a dampener on the lead-up to New Year’s Eve, with state parks and recreational dams reporting lower-than-average visitor numbers.
In a good year – with full capacity – Lake Keepit State Park’s on-site accommodation would be full to the brim, but this year visitor numbers have slowed to a trickle.
About 50 sites were booked out yesterday, along with 45 sites booked on Thursday.
While they’re not coming in droves, visitors are planning to stay for a longer period of time, according to park manager Philip Lloyd.
“Most people who are here now are staying until the new year and we’re expecting many more visitors before then,” he said.
“We’re not expecting the powered sites to be booked out, but they’ll start filling up on Sunday and Monday.”
Keepit’s at 33 per cent, compared to 68 per cent at this time last year.
“I think the water being a bit low has made it a bit quieter overall,” Mr Lloyd said.
“It’s also a strange holiday this year, having New Year’s Eve in the middle of the week.”
While there aren’t the huge camper numbers of previous years, the park has had its fair share of day-trip visitors, with Thursday the biggest day this year.
“Thursday was the day to be out here – the park was packed, with people coming out from Gunnedah, Tamworth and Manilla,” Mr Lloyd said.
Copeton Dam’s 56 per cent water level means there’s plenty of space for water sports and fishing, but campers should expect the dam to drop by about 1 per cent every two days.
“Unfortunately they’re letting a lot of water out of the dam, about 6500 megalitres from the dam per day, but we’re very lucky that we have such a big capacity,” Copeton Waters State Park manager David Allan said.
Copeton has already had a huge Christmas camping period, with all cabins and powered sites booked out for the past two months.
“Bookings are very strong. We’ve got campers pouring in. But because it’s a 900-hectare park with 20km of shoreline, we’ll never have any problem fitting everyone in,” Mr Allan said.
The park is expecting similar numbers to last year – between 2500 and 3000 visitors for New Year’s Eve.
“We’re getting people now who are staying through until early January, so it’s a very busy time for everyone,” Mr Allan said.