While restrictions have eased enough for climbing tourists to enjoy Mount Arapiles, nearby residents still notice it's much quieter compared to a normal year.
Since September 16, regional Victorians have had no time or distance limits on leaving their homes as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions set out in the state government's lockdown roadmap.
On Thursday, Gordon and Ailsa Guest-Smith of Porepunkah in Victoria's northeast returned to the mountain where they had one of their first dates.
"I first came here in 1997 with my uni outdoor ed class, and have been coming every year pretty much ever since," said Mr Guest-Smith. "We try and make October the annual time we come after the ski season finishes up.
"As soon as the restrictions started easing we've been planning on this: This will be pretty much our only trip away from home this year. We're stoked we were able to come.
"We found out we were pregnant with one of our children out here: It's just been a thing we've done," Mrs Guest-Smith said.
"There are some other families that come here from out neck, and all the kids get to climb together."
Mr Guest-Smith, a career firefighter, said the Alpine region in which his family lived had an economy reliant on tourism.
He said this compelled him to spend money at Horsham and Natimuk businesses, such as new walking boots for his children, when he visited the mountain.
This will be pretty much our only trip away from home this year.Gordon Guest-Smith, Victorian tourist
Mount Arapiles, and the Grampians National Park, remained open to nearby residents when regional Victoria went back into stage three restrictions in early August. Nonetheless, some residents chose to stay away until restrictions started easing.
One of these was Grass Flat's Keely Michael, who does most of her walking at the mountain.
"I just walked at home, I thought it was safer," she said.
Natimuk Hotel owner Bill Lovel said he had noticed more people from beyond the Wimmera passing through the town in the past few weeks, but not in large numbers.
Mr Lovel said the absence of international visitors, due to Australia closing its borders, deprived his and other businesses of a major source of income during the traditionally busy spring period.
He said the community had been endlessly supportive of his business since he first went public with the challenges the pandemic had created for him in March.
There are however some overseas visitors at the mountain: Backpackers. Just as people from overseas can not enter Australia, foreign nationals in Australia are not allowed to leave the country unless granted an exemption.
Titus, Tim* and Domi are three backpackers that have been living at Mount Arapiles Pines camping area since the border closed.
Domi, from Poland, said she had been looking for work in the region.
Titus, from the Grampians, said the trio spent their days climbing, abseiling, painting and making music.
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