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TDU pulls public to recovering bushfire-hit Hills

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The Tour Down Under is helping spearhead a tourist-led recovery of the fire-hit Adelaide Hills.

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Stage two of southern hemisphere’s biggest cycling event began this morning, on a route from Woodside and ending in Stirling.

Tomorrow’s stage will travel through Lobethal.

Properties, businesses and wineries around Woodside and Lobethal were hit by the Cudlee Creek blaze, which began on December 20 and burnt through 23,000 hectares of scrub, orchards and vineyards and destroyed more than 80 homes and scores of other buildings.

Premier Steven Marshall said today the TDU and three-day food and wine Crush Festival kicking off on Friday will bring tens of thousands of people to the Hills and its economy and recovery.

“The message from the Adelaide Hills community is clear – visitation is crucial to help them recover and rebuild,” Marshall said.

“Events like the Santos Tour Down Under and Crush Festival give people reasons to visit our regions and gives regions a chance to open their businesses and showcase their attractions and local produce.”

The government says Adelaide Hills tourism was worth $168 million in the year to June 2019.

While more than 60 grape growers and wine producers were affected by the Cudlee Creek fire, which damaged around 1100 hectares of vines, the festival is expected to draw 23,000 people to 30 participating Adelaide Hills wineries.

Below is a photo of Henschke Lenswood vineyard after the Cudlee Creek bushfires, taken 24 December, 2019.

Visiting Crush Festival is an ample opportunity to help growers and producers back on their feet, Adelaide Hills Wine Region executive officer Kerry Treuel previously told InDaily.

“It’s so important for our region to have a great turnout for Crush Festival. To have a big show of support here over the three days, [with people] really packing out our events and buying our wine and having a good time, will really help our region,” he said.

On Sunday the South Australian Tourism Commission launched the recovery campaign #BookThemOut to help draw tourists to Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills.

SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex said tourists have a large part to play in helping these regions get back on their feet.

“Help them out, #BookThemOut is a strong message that the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island remain amazing, unique holiday destinations with incredible consumer experiences, and these regions need tourism to thrive and survive,” he said.

Over 210,778 hectares on Kangaroo Island’s western flank was burnt from December to January, leading to huge losses in property, wildlife and livestock.

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat after bushfires swept through on Kangaroo Island. Photo: David Mariuz / AAP

Despite tourist hotspots like Flinders Chase National park and Kelly Hill Caves being closed due to damage, Kangaroo Island ferry operator Sealink is offering discounted passenger fares to the island until the end of June to help boost tourism numbers.

The Country Fire Service has declared KI’s Ravine Fire “contained”. Small flare ups on the island’s eastern edges were extinguished overnight.

But the CFS warns KI’s fire danger rating remains very high, with increased bushfire risk today.

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