Airlie Beach main street upgrade set for September
The redevelopment of the town centre, which started late last year, is on track to be complete in early September.Half of the street is finished and work is continuing on the other side.When the $20 million revamp is complete the town will have a new streetscape more conducive to al fresco dining, new boutiques and more stores showcasing local artisans and producers.”It’s taking shape and we’re starting to get a real sense of what it’s going to look like”, Whitsundays Marketing and Development CEO Danial Rochford says.”The redevelopment is going to be a massive shot in the arm for Airlie Beach and reinvent the town.”Airlie Beach has typically been known as a backpacker town and though we still hold that title we’re very keen to move it to the next level.”
The work has been inspired by towns including Byron Bay and Yamba on the NSW North Coast, but Rochford says he is hoping to attract more quirky and interesting retailers to set the street apart from other main streets around the country.”We’re not looking for high-end Hastings St-style boutiques but certainly shops that engage and are an experience unto themselves”, he says.”A number of existing businesses have redeveloped their shopfronts and that’s been welcomed. The main street had not been redeveloped for many decades and certainly the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach in particular was in need of this.”Rochford says Airlie Beach is a critical part of the Whitsundays and a jumping-off point for the islands.”It’s the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and icons like Whitehaven Beach”, he says.”We are well-known for being a backpacker town but we also have another dimension to the town and we have a variety of accommodation that caters for families and couples as well.”While visits from other parts of Australia has remained strong, Mr Rochford says there has been a drop-off in visitors from within a 400km radius since the work began.”We think that’s a short-term issue during the course of the redevelopment and once it’s over Airlie Beach will come alive”, he says.
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