ARARAT - Green Hill Lake again looks like the local destination of choice to ring-in the new year tonight.
Green Hill Lake development board member and Ararat Rural City councillor Gwenda Allgood said there was currently about 70 campers on the foreshore, which is on par with the same time last year , despite a considerable drop in water levels at the lake.
Cr Allgood said no official New Year's event had been planned for Green Hill Lake this year, but the GHL development board is still expecting the area to be a popular destination.
"Around New Year's Eve the lake has always been a popular place for people to gather and the number of campers there at the moment shows that it can still be very successful even when there isn't much water," she said.
"We haven't planned an event this year. I do really think Ararat needs something big for New Year's Eve, so hopefully we can get someone to take that on.
"We had the ball a few years ago and that was a really good concept."
With the lake's water levels too low for skiing, Cr Allgood said the development board was worried tourist numbers would drop off which would have an economic effect on the town, however other attractions around the lake are keeping campers happy and occupied.
"It is pretty low are the moment but not everyone has a boat, so it is still being utilised," Cr Allgood said.
"There is a huge amount of bird life about, plenty of fishermen said they are still catching good size fish and you can still get out there with your canoe or even just go swimming to cool off.
"Even if the lake can't really be used for skiing at the moment, if we can still get people pulling in off the highway, even if it just for one night to have a break, that is a big plus for the town.
"Council was asked to put up signs which indicated the distance to Ararat from the lake because sometimes those coming from Melbourne don't realise how close the town is. Already we have seen more people using the walking tracks, even young children on their bikes too."
Cr Allgood said the development board were also thrilled with the recent news that the controversial 'odds and evens' rules for using the lake are likely to be scrapped by Easter after many years of campaigning.
"The weather has always played a big part in what activity happens on the lake," she said.
"The lake should be for everyone and reverting back to the old system will allow that. The bulk of the people I have spoken to are in favour of it and think weather should be the deciding factor on who uses the lake, not what day it is."
If you are in Ararat and don't already have plans to welcome in 2014 tonight, Cr Allgood said why not head out to Green Hill Lake for a barbeque and meet some of the visitors.
"I encourage people in town to head out there and make those camping welcome," she said.