For the unacquainted, thinking about tourism across regional Australia often brings forth images of shaky open roads that lead to attractive natural formations and modestly populated towns. Compared to the scale of Australia’s booming metropolitan areas such as Sydney, it’s sometimes difficult to think of these rural areas as large tourism hubs.
These regional areas, however, form a vital part of Australia’s tourism industry, which grew by 6.1 percent ($7.6 billion) between August 2015 to August 2016, according to last year’s Deloitte Tourism and Hotel Market Outlook (DTHMO).
Following the release of the DTHMO, the Australian Regional Tourism Network (ARTN) called upon the government to harness the potential of Australia’s growing tourism industry and increase efforts to promote regional tourism.
Speaking about the issues, the Chair of the ARTN David Sheldon described regional tourism as the “poor cousin” for the Turnbull Government, a relationship that has dragged on for too long.
Sheldon said the government should “regonise the influence regional Australia has on the overall tourism industry, which is approximately 45 percent of a $130 billion consumption”.
“Regional tourism is the social and economic enabler for Australia’s next generation, Tourism 2030. It is time this government took its head out of the sand and developed next-generation initiatives in collaboration with relevant agencies and both state and local governments, to develop action plans for regional infrastructure and international dispersal that go beyond this short term vision” he said.
The ARTN chair did, however, acknowledge government’s past efforts in trying to expand regional tourism across Australia.
In November last year, the government announced the Building Better Regions Fund, which will see $297.7 million invested over four years in order to help drive economic growth in regional communities by funding infrastructure projects.
The government also offers a Regional Flagship Events Program, which funds flagship tourism events across regional communities.
In reality, there’s a wealth of events and locations to experience in these areas, although knowledge about these places is often overshadowed by a focus on growing tourism in Australia’s large scale cities.
It’s just like riding horses
Originating in 1970 from a bet between two friends, the Northern Territory’s Camel Cup is a flagship event for the state, an annual event hosted in Alice Springs. There’s a lot of fascinating backstory surrounding the event’s creation and history, which kicked off in 1979 when volunteers constructed the Noel Fullerton Camel Racing Area, the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
The event sees participants on camel-back racing down the track in competition for the winning trophy, while spectators cheer behind the track’s fence. The event has also drawn international interest, as Australian riders were invited to a US camel racing event held in Virginia City.
This year’s event will be held on July 15th, as camel riders kick the sand once again for the Lassestors Camel Cup.
Image: Lassestors Camel Cup. Source: Festinga.
Vivid’s little brother
Launching this year, Illuminate looks to bring the brilliant spectacle and colour of Sydney’s annual Vivid festival to Wagga Wagga. The festival will see the area lit up with projects as well as creative art installations, spread out so onlookers can walk between each model, similar to how Vivid paths out its installations each year.
Although some of the event’s details, including ticket availability and exact location, are still being worked out, the ticketed festival is planned to be held over two evenings during the Easter long weekend this year.
Image: Vivid Festival. Source: Humminginahummer.
Viva Las NSW
Closing in on celebrating their 25th anniversary of Rock’N’Roll, the NSW event located in Parkes draws thousands of Elvis fans together to celebrate their love of the music icon each year. The event is mostly what you’d expect – groups of people dressing up with puffed black wigs and white jackets infused with fake jewels.
However, there’s more to the festival than high heels and swinging dresses, as the Elvis Festival holds numerous competitions across art, photography and dress.
With large sponsors and partners backing the festival, including the NRMA and Destination NSW, the event runs for a wide five day period between the 11 and 15th of January, meaning there’s only four days left to boogie-down this year.
Image: Elvis Festival. Source: AussieBushAdventures.
Yarrawonga Food Truck Carnival
More food than you can stomach
Positioned on the border between NSW and Victoria, Yarrawonga’s annual Food Truck Carnival calls thousands of people to the town to splurge from a menu of different foods. The festival allows for local Yarrawonga and other regional food businesses to gain exposure and sell their dishes, as over 30 different restaurants partake in the event each year.
Each day of the event, which runs for a five day period in early January, sees a mix of the different food trucks gathering on a space near the town’s Lake Mulwala, where attendees are encouraged to bring a long picnic rugs and chairs to relax on the grass.
The carnival, however, does provide 700 seats in addition to other facilities such as toilets, ATM’s and parking. The types of food on offer range from Italian, Indian, Mexican and Thai, with a number of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free dishes available.
The festival is also fully licensed, so attendees can drink away if they choose.
Image: Yarrawonga Food Truck Carnival. Source: VisitMelbourne.
Opera in the Outback
Local animals don’t mind
Utilising the ambient sounds of the outdoor Ooramin Place amphitheatre, this rapidly growing event located in Undara, Queensland, delivers an entertaining performance against the town’s orange sunset and starlit sky.
The opera operates during their ‘green season’, occurring between April and October each year. Undara has a long history serving as a regional economic and transport hub since the 19th century, and has other tourist attractions involving wildlife and cave tours.
Attendees can pitch a tent or stay in a historical rail carriage after enjoying a theatrical performance.
Image: Opera in the Outback. Source: Undara.