Hundreds of visitors are continuing to flock to Dartmouth in north-eastern Victoria to see the town’s dam spill for the first time in 26 years.
- Dartmouth Dam spills for the first time since September 1996
- Residents say the town is expecting 300 to 400 visitors a day, particularly on weekends
- Publican served a record number of meals on Sunday before the spill
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) said it had been expecting the spill event to occur on Thursday, but residents started to see a small trickle over the dam on Wednesday.
Resident John Scales said the town was expecting hundreds of tourists a day now, particularly on the weekend.
“We’ve been getting 300 people through daily,” he said.
“That will probably increase a little as time goes on and the flow increases.”
Dartmouth Dam had been hovering at 99 percent capacity for four weeks.
The largest water storage in the Murray-Darling Basin last spilled in September 1996.
Mr Scales, who has now witnessed five spills at the dam during his lifetime, said it was wonderful to see the event take place again.
“It’s something you never tire of,” he said.
“Dartmouth Dam itself is a magnificent spectacle … but once it spills it adds a whole new dimension to the show.
“We’re proud to be able to put on a bit of a show for our guests.”
The MDBA said water would begin flowing over the Dartmouth Dam spillway at low rates and contribute minor flows to the Mitta Mitta River downstream, with water also still being released through the valves at the base of the dam.
‘People are coming from everywhere’
Mr Scales’s son Aaron Scales has been working hard the past few weeks to provide meals to the hordes of travelers coming into town alongside a number of community groups.
The publican said it had been absolutely flat out.
“People are coming from everywhere to have a look. We’re obviously expecting a lot more now,” he said.
He said the pub was pushing out a lot of meals.
“Last Sunday we did 275 which is a record number for us,” he said.
“We’re expecting we’ll be doing around those numbers this weekend as well if not more.”
‘I’ve seen it down at 9 per cent’
Aaron Scales said the tourism boom was particularly welcome after a difficult period over the past several years.
“It’s an area that’s been hammered by bushfires and then obviously COVID lockdowns,” he said.
“So it’s great to see people coming up and spending some dollars up there and obviously seeing the dam overflow.”
He said there had been a big lead-up to the spill, but it was amazing to finally see it happen.
“We’ve had the droughts and that sort of thing and I’ve seen it down at 9 per cent,” he said.
“It is a bit of a ‘wow it has happened’ [moment].”