And a lot has changed but a lot hasn't ...
Ok, so the photo shows a much younger Lori and also 15kgs heavier, but it shows a significant asset of Australia, the Darling River, photographed from North Bourke (recognise this Jenny & Steve?). This river is amongst so many assets that are survival assets but tourism assets to help our regional towns survive and thrive.
As this river starts to flow again and I get ready to head further west than here I can't help to be reminded about the feeling I have when I am there and the feelings my kids had when they were there. It's a feeling that every Australian should know and connect with. Words such as 'peace', 'beauty', 'spiritual', 'understanding', 'rawness', 'authenticity' are all correct but there is one that truly brings this place to life and thats the 'people'!
Experiences are built by people, not by things. Yes the things help but it's the stories, the way of life, the history and secrets of areas that are revealed by the people that make our experiences impactful and memorable. Loving the destinations, as some campaigns may imply, only comes from loving the experiences that are had there, all helped by the local community.
I was reminded of this fact this morning as I was interviewed by the beautiful Georgia on ABC Radio Broken Hill about the Sturts Steps project as she asked 'how important it was that communities get behind a project such as this'? Without saying word-for-word how I responded to that question, I explained the authenticity of Outback people and the opportunity already there to engage in a harmonious way. Together with an understanding of what increased tourism can do for all businesses in a town, it has a natural way to gain the interest of all in a community and for some reason I have had many battles in convincing communities of this in other areas BUT never in the Outback.
However people don't know what they don't know, so a big job for me in the next 7 days is to help everyone understand the opportunity before them with this project and for me to get to get to know them, their stories and their opportunities so it can build the long-term success of visitation to the Outback of NSW.
Keep an eye on https://www.facebook.com/visitoreconomydevelopment/ for the updates on this project as they happen. When I am back in the city I will have another update for you on another big project to help connect and improve experiences in NSW...stay tuned.