Is Cobar ready for an influx of visitors?

One local business has been gearing up since June to ensure they are ready for the big influx of visitors expected for the Running on Empty festival later this month.

Business owner Trudy Griffiths said she and the her Gumnuts Gifts & Homewares staff began planning back in May for the festival which has the potential to well and truly put Cobar on the tourism map.

“How many times do we get an opportunity like this? If it’s done well, they’ll come back,” Trudy said.

With all of the local motels, hotels and the caravan park already booked out for the festival weekend (as well as all the accommodation in nearby Nyngan), festival organisers have sourced other local accommodation to keep up with demand.

Visitors have booked their spots at a ‘Glamping Tent City’ at Tom Knight Memorial Oval and bookings for caravan sites at Ward Oval are still going like hotcakes.

Festival organiser John de Bruin said there are also a lot of locals who are “billeting” visitors and friends who are coming especially for the festival. He said conservative figures show that we can expect more than 2,000 visitors in Cobar over that weekend.

John said he’s been “warning” the local pubs and clubs, supermarkets, service stations, food outlets and retailers for the past few months that they will be very busy.

In addition to organising extra staff and extending the trading hours of their gift shop and restaurant for the weekend of the festival, Gumnuts will also be running their coffee van.

“We hurried up the purchase of the coffee van, because we knew the shop won’t cope with the demand,” Trudy said.

“People don’t want to be kept waiting for half an hour for their coffee.”

Trudy plans to run both the shop and the van over the full weekend.

“I think some businesses might be a bit worried about ordering in extra stock, or putting on extra staff, because there’s no certainty of numbers.

“But as I see it, it’s taking a risk that might give us a big return, but that’s just what being in business is about anyway, taking a risk to get a return,” she said.

Trudy said doing a few things like ordering milk with a longer shelf life and freezing surplus food like bacon will help to minimise the risk if she does over order.

“Over ordering bread is something we can’t do much about, but we can wear that,” she said.

Trudy said she’s not sure if they’ll be serving 100 customers or 2,000 that weekend.

“We can only do so much to the best of our ability,” she said.

She hopes all the other local food outlets, along with community and sporting groups will jump in to ensure that the demand is met.

“If this festival doesn’t come off right, there won’t be another one, and it will also put a bad light on the Grey Mardi Gras festival planned for next year. Negative comments, by word of mouth or social media, can be very powerful as we’ve all seen with the free camping issue in town,” she said.

Trudy said by the end of the weekend she hopes that people will only have positive things to say about Cobar’s Running on Empty festival.