Deena Budby ,7 and her four-year-old brother Jude cool off at the Hervey Bay Ice Creamery. Alistair Brightman
LINES usually reserved for the hectic Christmas and New Year period have Esplanade shop owners celebrating the best school holiday business in years.
The foreshore has been abuzz since mid-September with caravan parks and resorts packed with visitors.
Scarness Beachfront Caravan Park manager Marilyn Neill said the park had been fully booked earlier in the break, mostly with families living between Brisbane and Maryborough and several bookings had already been taken for the Christmas holidays.
The change in pace is a welcome one for Hervey Bay Ice Creamery owner Dallas Harch, who has been selling about 1000 scoops a day.
Just yesterday, the line to his store and neighbouring Maddigans Seafood went several metres out onto the footpath as families flocked to the foreshore to enjoy the last day of school-free fun.
Mr Harch, who has owned the ice-creamery for nine years, said it had been a long time since business was this good.
He hadn't tallied totals for the holidays, he believed sales were up about 25% from last year's Christmas holidays, which had been the most succesful period in a number of years.
He said tourism seemed to be picking up in general but most families still said it was the whales that enticed them to visit.
Hervey Bay Whale Watch owner Jill Perry said the holidays had brought welcome boost for the season which is experiencing a record number of visiting whales and is expected to run for at least another four weeks.