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A bumper Easter long weekend is forecast for WA. Here's what to expect if you are heading away

By Tyne Logan and Kenith Png, Wednesday March 31, 2021 - 06:44 AEDT
ABC image
Tourist destinations like Elephant Rocks in WA's south are expected to be popular this weekend. - ABC

West Australian tourism and accommodation providers are gearing up for what many expect could be their busiest Easter on record.

A year after coronavirus restrictions all but cancelled any chance of travelling last year, the expected influx is being more than welcomed by local businesses who said it would go a long way in making up for those losses.

Here's what to expect if you are heading away to some of WA's popular destinations this weekend.

Busy streets and full accommodation

For the Shire of Dandaragan, which encompasses the popular destinations of Cervantes and Jurien Bay, president Lesley Holmes said accommodation had been booked out since last year.

"It's always been hell on wheels and very popular," she said.

"Of course, now nobody is able to go overseas it's even more heightened.

"I would say it's half as much again, to be honest."

She said businesses would be working hard, but they felt they were prepared with overflow caravan parking and extra staff.

That level of business is expected elsewhere as well, adding to what has already been a "non-stop" cycle of tourists for many towns in the South West and along the south coast.

While they will not know officially until after Easter, Busselton Jetty Tourist Park manager Wayne McGregor said it was shaping up to be one of the busiest on record for the region.

"We are normally [at] 100 per cent occupancy but just everywhere seems busy this year," he said.

"Already the streets are busy."

Following the financial losses from last year caused by the coronavirus pandemic, he said it was welcomed with open arms.

"I think there are a lot of businesses that are really looking forward to it," he said.

"It left a fair gap in the budgets last year, and this will be an opportunity to make those up, but I don't think it ever could fully."

For WA's north, the holiday bookings have taken a blow with Queensland's COVID-19 outbreak causing several cancellations from corporate guests and Queenslanders.

Roadworks (hint: lots!)

But if you are hitting the road this long weekend, expect delays.

On top of the long weekend traffic, there are also several major roadworks projects underway.

Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts said work was underway to install audible edge lines and sealed shoulders on sections of several major roads in the South West and Great Southern regions.

This included South Western Highway, Vasse Highway, Brockman Highway, Albany Highway, Muir Highway, Great Southern Highway and South Coast Highway.

On top of that, the route to some of the South West's most popular destinations will be slowed down by traffic management and reduced speed limits on Bussell Highway around Capel.

Tuart Drive is also temporarily closed until May.

If you are travelling north of Perth to popular spots on the central-west coast or in Kalbarri, there should be a clear run, besides the regular Easter traffic congestion.

Double demerits for drivers

WA's newly appointed Police and Road Safety Minister, Paul Papalia, said West Australians would head to the roads this Easter long weekend on an unprecedented scale.

"Last year this time, we were all huddled inside under COVID restrictions, so we didn't have a lot of people on the road," he said.

"This year, there are going to be more West Australians travelling our roads than ever before, and we're going to have people travelling in unfamiliar locations."

Mr Papalia urged drivers to take extra caution on country roads as police ramped up road safety operations, with random alcohol and drug testing alongside double demerit points in place from midnight tonight until the end of Monday.

"There are tens of thousands of West Australians who've returned home from overseas who are going to be even more unfamiliar with their surrounds," he said.

"It is incredibly important that we take our time, be very patient with others, drive safely, obey the law, and return home at the end of the weekend."

Weather forecast

Weather-wise, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting a typical autumn-like weather pattern, with overall mild temperatures and light winds for most coastal destinations.

BOM senior forecaster Matt Boterhoven said the central-west coast was going to be sunny and calm.

"It will be a good Easter holiday to be near the coast in the central-west, with temperatures up in the low 30s," he said.

"And with that broad surface trough dominating the start of the long weekend, you're not going to get those fresh, strong sea breezes."

But there could be some light rain on the way on Friday and Saturday for the South West and South Coast, particularly around Albany and Denmark.

Mr Boterhoven said Friday would bring some light showers anywhere southwest of Bunbury to Bremer Bay and "low 20C maximums". 

"But on Saturday ? down near the south coast you're looking at temperatures in the low 20s, and you may see showers up to 5 millimetres down near Albany, Denmark and Windy Harbour kind of way."

Rainfall is set to ease by Sunday and Monday for most places.


© ABC 2021

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