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‘Everyone thinks we’re mad’: Not a minute to lose as the Melbourne wall falls at midnight

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Sue and Brett Grinstead aren't wasting a single minute when Melbourne's "ring of steel" comes down at 11:59 on Sunday night.

The Narre Warren South couple plan to leave for a seven-day South Gippsland holiday at 11.30pm which, by their reckoning, will have them sailing through the nearest checkpoint the moment it becomes defunct.

They have already loaded the car, hitched the caravan and settled on a symbolic midnight soundtrack: AC/DC's Jailbreak.

Brett and Sue Grinstead and daughter Bronwyn getting set for their great escape.Credit:Simon Schluter

"Everyone thinks we're mad," Ms Grinstead said. "They're like 'why don't you leave at 6am Monday morning?' But I like waking up out in the bush. We're just that eager."

It has been four months since police and Defence personnel were first deployed to checkpoints around Melbourne's perimeter.

Since then, Melburnians have watched from their living rooms as daily COVID-19 case loads soared beyond 700 and, after one of the world's longest lockdowns, back to eight consecutive days of zero.

From 11.59pm, the hard work pays off.

"I reckon all of Melbourne heard me," Mr Grinstead said of the moment premier Daniel Andrews set the date last month.

Ms Grinstead's first frantic words: "Book it, book it, book it."

Another Melbourne couple and Mr Grinstead's ageing parents will join them at the Paradise Beach campground from Monday. It will be the first time they have seen each other in months.

"There'll be a lot of, pardon the French, bullshit around the campfire," Ms Grinstead said. "A lot of just not looking at a computer screen."

An October survey of 400 people by Quantum Market Research showed 41 per cent of Victorians planned to take an intrastate holiday as soon as restrictions were lifted.

However the survey also found the shadow of COVID-19 could linger long after the next round of reopening, with 47 per cent of Victorians agreeing they were "hesitant" about returning to normal life.

Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani said the second lockdown had created a "tsunami of pain" for the industry which would reverberate for years.

Citing new figures from Tourism Research Australia showing $8.2 billion had been wiped from the Victorian industry between January and August this year, Ms Mariani urged the Andrews government to make further announcements on Sunday.

"While accommodation, hospitality and retail have been the early beneficiaries of eased restrictions to date, large parts of our industry are still waiting for their turn," she said.

"The state’s indoor attractions and events sectors have been decimated and, to date, have not been in the conversation to deliver them a pathway to recovery.

"Restrictions applied to our tour and transport sector are too onerous, preventing many from operating their experiences."

Regional insights provided to Visit Victoria showed Gippsland bookings had been strongest for the summer holiday period, with capacity remaining mid-week in the run-up to Christmas.

Great Ocean Road operators had reported a trend in people booking accommodation to work remotely, which had meant longer-than-usual stays that were spread over the week rather than bunched on weekends.

The Mornington Peninsula and Grampians were also enjoying a strong response from Victorians, according to Visit Victoria. And, even without Melbourne visitors, the Halls Gap Zoo recently recorded its biggest day in history.

"We encourage Victorians to discover the hidden treasures in their own backyard and make travel plans for the upcoming weeks and months," Visit Victoria chief executive Brendan McClements said.

"It will go a long way to helping our tourism industry after a truly challenging year."

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