After spending three days in Winton on the eastern end …

Comment on Alice vs The Rock, at a glance by Trevor Shiell.

After spending three days in Winton on the eastern end of the Outback way it is easy so see why our numbers are dropping and I question why we are so far behind in our thinking.
Their Matilda tourist reception centre has everything that ours does not, including a first class eatery, gallery, cinema showing historic films, a stationary steam engine plus memorabilia and information.
Nearby here is a covered shelter under which caravans can be stored while travellers peruse the town and surrounding dinosaur attractions without the encumbrance of towing a van.
At these venues you go between attractions by solar powered electric vehicles.
The impact of a dinosaur theme attraction is everywhere, and their cultural history (Waltzing Matilda) is even engraved in the footpath at the front of the building.
We could do he same with our Afghan heritage.
Then I see the reality of our situation. On Tuesday two weeks ago I sat at the welcome rock counting people while waiting for a plane.
From 11.30am till 1.30pm 32 vehicles stopped there, with 69 passengers, including 12 caravans, and 69 photos were taken of people sitting on that rock.
I keep asking myself where are the tourism bodies and why are they not selling their industry from here?
They have a captive market here. Then I looked at the trouble over the road at the Transport Hall of fame and thought to myself how easy would it be to put in a diversion from that rock to the Transport Hall of Fame and put it on the main road into town just as Katherine and several other tourism based towns do, as the information point for the whole of the NT.
Easy parking, and caravan depository while they explore the CBD, easing traffic congestion in town, and easing access for them.
I would like to count the number of people who stop at the Old Ghan engine (many) and wonder why it is not combined with the welcome rock or at the Hall of Fame with the magnificent array of antique machinery as is on the main highway near Longreach.
I often stop along Col Rose Drive to talk with the growing number or tourists camel gazing at the animals grazing in the airport field, but never recognised as a tourism attraction or utilised as such.
Until the tourism bodies recognise things like that which appeal to the everyday travellers, and recognise mainly the top end of the market, nothing will improve.
We refuse to cherry pick what is around us locally.
A large camel wearing a fly net at the welcome rock or THF would sound ridiculous to most people but it needs something to stand out against the conventional. And this we refuse to do.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

US military base in Darwin: what risk to NT?
Having watched the subtle penetration of China into Fiji and other Pacific areas over years, the sight of large numbers of sat dishes emerging in even the remotest areas of Fiji when the outback shortwave service stopped here is hugely concerning.
Simultaneously the Radio Australia service disappeared in Fiji to be replaced with services from China.
The rough bush track I used to use travel there is now a bitumen road and the villages now all have solar power thanks to China, but they do nothing for nothing.
The same story in the Solomons, and possible New Guinea.
The last memory I have of Fiji, where I lived for many years, was two years ago and was of a Chinese surveillance ship in Suva harbour with five high tech antennae along the deck.
Now Cambodia is experiencing a Chinese naval base on its western shores, well before the American activity here.
In the same area there is a booming Chinese tourist facility and a lot of concern amongst locals.
The under the counter activity is aimed at our resources – mostly rare earths which both countries need for their hi-tech manufacturing-particularly weaponry.
China controls around 97% of the world supply. If you look at the Northern Minerals (Dysrosium) website and their share registry it becomes obvious what the Chinese are aiming at. We are just the pawn in a much larger game.

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