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One positive impact of recent flooding… I really never thought I would start a sentence with those words. I honestly did not think it was possible to find a positive impact of flooding. Apart from fertile black silt being stirred up by routine flooding of the River Nile and helping Egyptian farmers, it is difficult to imagine that flooding could be a good thing. I tend to think of property ruined, lives endangered and livelihood compromised. Recent flooding in Wagga Wagga and other parts of rural NSW has seen about $500 million worth of crops damaged or wiped away, as I have written about previously.

Still, even in the midst of pretty dramatic flooding throughout Australia, it is possible to find “one positive impact”. It is not in NSW, but Victoria’s Lake Eppalock, near Bendigo, has seen a complete resurgence in tourism. Businesses that were close to shutting down have been inundated with bookings and customers. Fish have returned to the lake, attracting fishermen from all over the place. Accommodation is booking out fast. Last time I wrote about Lake Eppalock, I was speculating that business would be booming over summer. Now, I can confirm that it definitely is. Big time. Tourists are keen to see Lake Eppalock full after so long. The fact that it is full is enough to attract people to the area. Checking it out, people are realizing that this is really a place worth going. Perfect for families, fun, safe and full of things to do.

This tourism boost is really good news for local business owners. An area that relies on water sports and fishing for tourism is really going to suffer when there is no water. The things is, it is not just tourism industry businesses who suffer. Sure, no one will be booking to stay in the area, so hotel and caravan park owners will suffer. No one will want to go water skiing on an empty lake, so leisure companies have no business. The impact of getting no rain reaches further than this, though. If no one is in the area, no one is buying food. This means restaurants, take away joints and supermarkets go broke. No one driving to the area, means no need for petrol, so petrol stations struggle.

All of these ideas start to help me understand how drought really can destroy a community. Pre-drought, tourism was a multi-million dollar industry in Lake Eppalock. Clearly, losing this is a massive blow to the local economy. Now, with Christmas approaching, things are really on the up again. Accommodation is booked out, fish are biting and the whole area is coming back to life.

Water is an amazing thing. It brings life and sustains it. Too much of it, though, can be devastating. For Lake Eppalock, a bit too much water is exactly what was needed.

Published: Dec 8, 2010 1:32pm by cbere.

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