The Easter weekend proved to be golden for the Tamworth region as flocks of campers, tourists, travellers and locals made full use of perfect weather and the four-day break.
Chaffey Dam is at capacity and so was its campground at the weekend, while on the other side of town, Keepit Dam also recorded its biggest weekend in years.
But it was the Nundle Go for Gold Festival that created the biggest splash.
Festival committee chair and Nundle Woollen Mill owner Nick Bradford hit the double over the break, with an estimated record crowd of more than 18,000 people attending the two-day festival, as well as recording the best ever day of trade at the mill.
“We estimate that we had upwards of 10,000 on Saturday with another 7000 to 8000 people on Sunday,” Mr Bradford said.
“That brings in excess of $400,000. It was the perfect storm of extraordinary weather and the festival falling in the middle of the school holidays.
“There were lots of stall holders, both local and visiting, that also claimed to have their biggest ever trading days in Nundle – it was fantastic.”
The Chinese Easter Festival has been growing bigger and better each year, but the committee now feels it might leave the bigger and just focus on the better, after reaching record crowds over the weekend.
“We can’t grow much more, it would be getting close to uncomfortable if we had too many more people on the street on Saturday,” Mr Bradford said.
“We are now going to focus on growing the visitor experience and giving visitors a greater experience so they come back through the year, and refer others to visit.
“It is essentially Nundle’s shopfront for the year, and it wouldn’t happen without the support of Tamworth council.”
Councillor Jim Maxwell, who camped at Nundle all weekend, was “gobsmacked” by what the small community had been able to achieve.
“It was a fantastic weekend and a huge economical boost for Nundle and the region,” Cr Maxwell said.
“A lot of people I spoke to were having their first trip to Nundle, they will go home and tell their friends and it will keep getting bigger and better – it was unbelievable.”
The councillor also took a trip to Chaffey and Sheba dams, and was blown away by the number of visitors.
“There wasn’t a spare piece of even relatively flat ground to be had at Chaffey Dam, and you couldn’t swing a cat around at Sheba – I heard Split Rock was the same. It was unbelievable.”
Cr Maxwell said that the Easter weekend was “a huge win for the whole region” after record crowds attended the Nundle festival, as well as seeing huge numbers in local campgrounds and at the dams.
Woolomin Shop owner Shane Douglas said that the Easter weekend is always their biggest trade days of the year, and this year didn’t disappoint.
“It was a really good weekend with the Nundle festival and all the campers at the (Chaffey) dam, much bigger than Christmas,” Mr Douglas said.
“We sold plenty of ice, bait, food, everything really. It all has great long term benefits as well because they will come back now.”
Keepit Dam also recorded their biggest weekend in recent memory with only three of the 255 available camp sites vacant, as well as hordes of day visitors over the four days.
Park Manager Paul Irwin estimated that around 1500 campers hit the dam to soak up the “great weather, green landscape and improved water levels.”