Friday, July 13, 2007

Why Bother Visiting Country Towns?

Bruce Elder in the Sydney Morning Herald asks this question and asks for suggestions that might help small communities attract more visitors. What do you want to see when you visit these small places?

Given we are visiting a comparatively small town at the moment, and given that we spent a cosy afternoon in a small bistro in an even smaller town today, the answer to me seems pretty straight forward. I grew up in a town of 800 people and even we knew the attempts at museums and revitalised train stations (with no trains in them) were hopeless and pointless and bleak. In visiting the country towns I am visiting this week I am reminded that the things that attract or deter me here are the same things that attract me or deter me in Sydney. Friendly, hospitable staff/hosts. Quality products. Reasonable pricing. Crap tourist nick knacks made in China. Pubs that smell like they were last cleaned in 1974. 1974 decor!

I stop in small towns to find something that is unique to that place. Something of a local flavour. A friendly chat with the local stock and station outlet has its own rewards and is far better than a poorly presented local crafts centre, or dodgy museum that is only looking to rip me off. Small towns should simply try and be themselves, highlight their points of difference (Ballarat's colonial/Victorian architecture is outstanding and worth the visit alone - the Ballarat Train station shown here is a case in point) and offer the same hospitality and friendship we all crave wherever we go. Oh, and at this time of the year an open fire helps as well!!


Paul said...

Thoroughly agree with your comment about the crafts centres. Nothing worse than those small towns that exist purely to flog junk to passers-through.

Never mind that most of the stuff they sell can probably be purchased at a fraction of the price at a market in a metro area, too...

Anonymous said...

Sydney is still better.... despite the train station.