Stickybeaks storm town

Thousands of sightseers flocked to the area to take in the damage from the tornadoes. Pictures: TARA GOONAN The brick home belonging to Jeanette and Damian Postregna.

Melbourne’s Catherine McKail and daughter Ruby, 3, were among the onlookers at Denison County Caravan Park.

THOUSANDS of sightseers have converged on tornado-ravaged Mulwala to look at the spectacular destruction left by the March 21 disaster.

There had been fears the lake-side town’s usual booming Easter trade would be ruined by the closure of three of its main accommodation destinations damaged or destroyed by the storm.

What hadn’t been counted on was the hordes of gawping visitors who arrived armed with smart phones and expensive cameras, turning the worst-hit areas into awkward tourist attractions.

In the end, Mulwala’s Easter trade was down but a bakery owner estimated the drop was just 20 per cent on other years.

Hotels and other caravan parks were at full capacity and the loss of an estimated 3000 visitors usually housed in tornado-dameged areas was somewhat compensated by the sightseer crowd.

Throughout the weekend cars crawled along Spring Drive, following the tornado’s powerful path.

Their occupants marvelled at a brick home belonging to Jeanette and Damian Postregna which had been smashed to pieces.

Down the road, a steady stream of onlookers scuttled around what was left of Denison County Caravan Park.

Onlooker Adrian Nash, of Melbourne, said he didn’t expect the damage at Denison County to be so bad.

“I’ve never seen damage like this before,” he said.

Security guard Fred Tremellen manned the park’s central entrance all weekend and said thousands of people came to see the disaster.

Some were visitors holidaying nearby and others day trippers from Albury, Griffith or elsewhere.

“At one time we had 40 cars here at once,” Mr Tremellen said.

“So many of them have wanted to donate money.”

At Lake Mulwala Bakery, owner Lauren Holgate said they had noticed some extra business generated by the sightseers, but they were aiming to give that back through food donations.

She estimated a business drop of about 20 per cent on last year.

Next door at Hicks Butchery, owner Alan Hicks was yet to do his sums.

But he guessed he’d come up with a similar figure, the direct result of missing trade that would have usually been staying in caravans.

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