Traveller Letters: The big problem with regional Australia's 10am check-out times

LETTER OF THE WEEK

PARTING SHOTS

As a frequent visitor to Victoria's Surf Coast and other regional locations, I am frequently confronted by the need to exit our holiday accommodation by 10am. I understand that it takes time to service rooms or holiday homes for the next guests.

But often, such as at the end of a long weekend, there are no new guests arriving that day yet the 10 am departure remains. This often results in traffic jams as with tourists departing at the same time but, more importantly, it results in a loss of business. Cafes and restaurants miss out on the lunch trade and other shops miss out on pedestrian traffic in their boutiques, galleries and gift shops.

Tourism has been severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and many small businesses have suffered considerably. With later check-outs, accommodation providers could breed goodwill and return business, as well as contributing to the vibrancy of their local tourist hot spot.

Peter Hansford, Ripponlea, VIC

KING HIT

We have just returned from a delightful five night stay on King Island. We were picked up at the airport in Currie by a four-wheel drive bus. Our driver, Ian, is also a superb chef at the Wild Harvest restaurant in Grassy, where our accommodation was situated. It was an older motel with ensuites and comfortable rooms with sea views.

Over the next few days we criss-crossed the island, visiting beaches, museums, sites of t various shipwrecks, a golf course, kelp farming, and of course the King Island cheese factory. The island abounds with wallabies and cattle. Our hosts, Lucinda and Ian are delightful and knowledgeable about the island and its history. The food they serve at Wild Harvest is a gourmet's delight.

Phillip and Laurel Anderson, Bowral, NSW

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT

We have taken three decent roadtrips around NSW since the lockdowns ended but our most recent had the highs and lows. We hired a rental car and drove Sydney – Boorowa – Leeton – Deniliquin – Euston – Berry – Hahndorf – Victor Harbour – Adelaide over 15 days and then flew home.

The highlights were Boorowa, a beautiful and friendly old town off the beaten track, and Victor Harbour, for its wonderful horse-drawn tram.

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The low was two nights isolating in a room in Berry, South Australia, waiting for the dreadfully slow South Australia Health to confirm our negative COVID-19 test. Not that we had any symptoms, but at time of our visit, SA required a test on days one, five and 12 for anyone from Sydney. None of the hotels and motels in rural SA were accepting isolation bookings and we seriously expected to have to sleep in the car until finally one place accepted us at a hiked up rate. South Australian is a beautiful state but SA Health were unhelpful and completely unprepared for an open border.

John Gercken, Forestville, NSW

DEVIL IN THE DETAIL

Like Peter Miniutti's friends (Traveller Letters, March 13), I, too, was taken aback by the cost of car hire while booking a trip to Tasmania in February. It was more than double what I would usually expect to pay. Refusing to pay the quoted price, I decided to go across on the Spirit of Tasmania. The $849 I paid included a return trip plus a four berth cabin each way.

Not only did I have the comfort of driving my own vehicle while on my Tasmanian road trip, I could use my entire boot for my luggage. No toss up whether to pack this or that. I also had the excitement of spending the night on the ferry. It was great value all round, considering I'd saved the cost of airport parking in Sydney, the return flight and the exorbitant Tasmanian car rental cost.

Patricia Kleinhans, Blackheath, NSW

With regard to Peter Miniutti's expensive Tassie car hire, I was told by a car hire company in Sydney that prices for the same booking can change from day to day according to demand. It's a bit tiresome but try visiting your car hire website each day for a week or so and see if the price changes before making a decision.

Alternatively, make a booking online well before your holiday and then check the price a week before you go - if it's cheaper, take it and cancel your first booking. And yes, Peter is correct, it is more expensive in Tassie but I am not quite sure why. Perhaps a car hire representative can help?

David Spurgeon, Gladesville, NSW

I couldn't believe it when one of your correspondents said that car hire in Hobart was expensive. Disbelieving, I went straight to the website of my usual supplier, Bargain Car Rentals. Yikes. He's right. What cost me $200 in early 2020, just pre COVID-19, is now closer to $2000. If you've got the time, I guess it makes the trip over with car on the Spirt of Tasmania more appealing. I know they've suffered but this is really price gouging taken to the max.

Ross MacPherson, Seaforth, NSW

Editor's note: Find out more about the current rental car shortage and soaring prices in this news story

BACKYARD BLISS

I am continually saddened by the letters to Traveller Letters bemoaning the cost of travel in Australia compared to overseas destinations.

Since when is cost the reason to choose a destination? I have always thought the appeal of the destination would be the main reason. If it is expensive to go there, then it may take longer to save to fulfil your dreams.

Australia has so many fabulous places to visit - the number of overseas travellers indicates this. Surely we want to marvel at our own special places too and tell others about them?

A few years ago I went on an excellent tour to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon from Alice Springs. Of the 12 passengers on the trip, only two were Australians. I have been asked several times in Europe if I have visited the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. When I say that I have on more than one occasion, the response has invariably been "you are the first Australian I have met who has visited these places" .

Jennifer Farrer, Castle Hill, NSW

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