Staying more than a day or two in small towns

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 14:38
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I recently read an article on the Caravan World website that seems to be sponsored by Tourism Qld that was seeking input from travellers about "what would attract you to stay longer in their towns".

At first the article seems really logical until you get to the bit where they clarify that "a day or two" is not long considered a long enough stay. I'm not sure what they expect from people.

To me, they are missing the point. It may not be something that can be changed by fixing facilities, adding more conveniences and improving services, even developing more low-fee campsites. Many people like being on the go, or have such a large itinerary that too long a stop in one place, means less time in the next place. Many people prefer to stop away from towns as the purpose of the trip is to get away from modern lifestyles, to get away from people, trucks, shops, cars, noise. The aim for people that don't stop longer in towns would surely be to find a "remote" spot under a tree - ALONE. Stopping for more than a few days is not necessary unless you're waiting for repairs, visiting friends/relatives, need more time to enjoy the fishing, or because the place was somewhere you had specifically planned to stay a while.

Just my viewpoint.
If you're interested the article I found was - here.

What do you think?
Michelle

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Reply By: Mick O - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 14:51

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 14:51
It’s an interesting concept Michelle and in these days of rural decline, small communities have to find new ways to reinvent and reinvigorate their areas. My brother lives in the small town of Cavendish on the Henty Highway at the base of the Grampians, population a whopping 90 people. Slowly but surely the local services in their, and surrounding towns are closing. They have the benefit of being in the midst of a area of natural beauty and have the Wannon River running through the villiage’s centre.

The local community have spent a lot of time and effort creating a historical river walk and have recently upgraded the facilities at the recreation reserve. Land adjacent the reserve is actually the western bank of the Wannon and they have been encouraging campers and caravanners to spend the night there. $5 per person gets you a nights in the grassy river side paddock with a hot shower and toilet facilities at the Rec reserve. Their thinking is that even if staying one night, people will visit the local attractions and may even spend a few bucks at the local community owned hotel which is only 150 metres walk. They may buy a few necessities at the community store all helping put a bit of money back into the local economy and support local facilities.

They have recently applied for a community development grant to provide power to a few sites as well. So perhaps it’s not about the amount of time spent, but rather spending the time there in the first place.

If your going through Cavendish, spend a night by the Wannon, enjoy the settlers walk and a few hsitoric old buildings and having a great parma at the Bunyip Hotel, all in the shadows of the nearby Grampians. Best $5 ever spent.

Cheers Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:19

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:19
Yes I think its wonderful that as described in the article, tourism bodies are putting some serious thought into how they can both attract and retain travellers to stop and stay in their towns. I really thought the list of the improvement ideas they list in this article are perfect - but because of the roaming, seek solace, intent of many travellers (ourselves included) I don't think these things would change the number of nights stop for that group of people. Yes indeed improve, and yes indeed do more to get people to stop in the first place. I think we all agree however, that the biggest factor is cost of accommodation - more free/low-fee campsites in/near towns will go a long way to encouraging people to stay longer.

PS: I see that Wannon in your post above did not hyperlink through to Places. That means we don't have enough info to make the link work (the trigger is does the place have a photo). You can add a photo to help promote Wannon via ExplorOz (teeheehhee) :)

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Follow Up By: Member - colin J (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:48

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:48
G'day all,

I'd like to second Micks comments on Cavendish. We have stayed in that little park a couple of years back, had a meal in town and the whole experience was great. The walk had just been completed and now I'll plan for a revisit.

Thanks for the reminder on just how nice that neck of the woods really is.

Col.
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:50

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:50
Good on you Col. I just spent Easter by the Rocklands Reservoir which is mightily full for the first time in many years. Make sure you head out to Glen Isla and down to Hynes Reserve for another great camp spot (also with full facilities).

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Cheers Mick
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 15:58

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 15:58
Thank you for the link Michelle. I have added my comments to 'appear if accepted' - as follows:

"We have found areas of rural Queensland that encouraged us to stay by providing low cost camping, with amenities nearby for those who need them.Blackall and Isisford are just two that spring to mind. Being farmers and suffering badly from drought (WA), when able to travel we seek out towns that need us and invite us in. When practical and needed, we buy fuel, do shopping, and visit tourist attractions.

At Isisford, a traveller we were talking to in the street said he was off to pay for yet another week “At $9 per week you can’t beat that”. He had been there for four weeks, and no doubt in that time would have patronised local businesses.

At Longreach we utilised the free camp on the Thomson River, and whilst staying not only saw the various attractions, we had our vehicle serviced, caravan brakes replaced, purchased other items for maintenance, filled with fuel and did our shopping whilst in this larger centre.

Enjoyable experiences in rural towns have been enhanced when a member of the community comes – either to collect the low fee, or if free, just to welcome us and talk. These chats enrich our knowledge of the area and our enjoyment of the stay.

If you have a shop, attracting the customer through the door is essential; no sales at all if you don’t. Once potential customer has entered the store it is up to the shop staff and each department to use their sales pitch. It is no different with visitors to towns. Attract the customers into your town then encourage them to stay with low cost or special offers. Only then can you promote what you have. To benefit from these visitors, allow more than one or two days in a free or low cost camp."

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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:20

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:20
Well said!!

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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 21:27

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 21:27
Motherhen, I'd totally endorse that comment about Isisford - beautiful camp-sites on the banks of the Barcoo, and some of the friendliest people in the town - one place that is really trying to make an effort.

Remember Mum going in to the council / post office to pay for the $4 campsite and being offered use of the toilet and shower facilities in the town. Was a bit difficult to find someone to pay, and Mum asked what they would do about non-payers, and the lady there said delightfully, "that's OK - we don't mind - we're happy having people visit our town".

Mind you the flip side of this is those town that have a mining boom going on - try to book for more than two nights !!!

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Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 21:31

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 21:31
Windorah has a great camp in the middle of town too. Clean toilets, showers and laundry.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:53

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:53
I think there are two sides to the story.

There are those that are only ever going to stop one night or two, but towns need to be attracting those people too.

Quite often people will stop the one or two nights to stock up, have a meal or 3 thay did not have to prepare, do their washing, have a much looked forward to civilised shower and dump the contents of their waste tanks.

BUT these one or two nights can be very profitable for that town, because these blow ins are going to spend all they are going to spend in that one stop.

So the esential facilities are important.

Then there are those that will stay in town for a period or base themselves there for expeditions to nearby.

In truth the needs are not much different.

All the basic facilities, clean and well maintained, honest, reliable, welcoming people and an absence of low life theeving scum.

cheers
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Reply By: Life Member - Phil B (WA) - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:57

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:57
Hi all,

I too have concerns about rural decline, loss of services in the bush and so on. I however wish to make a point from a different angle.

There are small towns and communities struggling to keep afloat, then there are really small places such as remote roadhouses that are only there to service remote area travellers. Places that spring to mind are Carnegie Station, Tjukayirlya Road House, and Warburton Road House ...

I have read posts over time where people complain about the prices charged for food and fuel, without giving any thought to the cost it takes to run these facilities. A few weeks ago I paid $2.50 a litre at Carnegie and $2.45 a litre at Tjukayirlya. This would represent about 80 cents a litre above city prices or $80 for 100 litres. Given a trip out there could cost many thousands of dollars what’s an extra $80 – not even two cartons?

If we didn't have such facilities in the bush we either, couldn't go out there or would have to cart huge fuel loads, resulting in damaged vehicles, increased safety hazards etc.

I ask that everyone consider stopping at these places and even if you only buy 50 litres and some bread or ice-creams; it will help keep the place going so it’s there for all of us next time.

cheers

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Follow Up By: Croozerute - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:44

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:44
Well said Phil.
Unfortunately these days, most people stock up to the point of having no spare room left, whatsoever, before they leave home.. All so they can save money on the road.
Same with fuel, So many people will prefer to spend $$$$$ on extra fuel tanks, and long range tanks with huge volume, rather than spend a few extra $$ with remote servos/ Roadhouses.
People will often pull up in the driveway of a roadhouse and make their own lunch, have drinks out of thier fridge etc, all without even going inside the roadhouse.

Cheers
Al
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Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 21:36

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 21:36
We wont use a roadhouse toilet unless we buy something. Feel guilty otherwise.
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Follow Up By: Member - Arsenal Phill - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:02

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:02
Well said Phill. Totally agree. Some times people forget the sacrifice and costs involved in servicing these remoter oasis'.
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:53

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:53
$2.45 a litre...for diesel.....I dream of prices so cheap!....and I live in Melbourne!!!


;-)


(P.S. Amen Phil. Never a truer word spoken).
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: The Landy - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:03

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:03
Michelle

Increasingly we are producing larger, fully self-contained caravans and motor-homes capable of extended travel and therefore increasing the time needed between visits to a town or community. It has also led to a greater expectation of free or subsidised camping given these vans and motor-homes are self sufficient.

Based on this I suspect that free or subsidised accommodation and camping fees will figure heavily in the findings of this survey if previous polling on the same topic is a gauge to work from.

Although the jury is out on whether this actually benefits small towns and communities. I suspect on average it doesn’t, as people look for a Coles or Woolworth’s sign to stock-up. It may assist larger towns to the detriment of existing commercial operators. And previously I have raised the question of the impact of this on long term tourism investment in Australia...I believe it will over the long-term...

But to your point, I think you are right in suggesting the current traveller is looking to get away from it, rather than to visit every town on the map, so it will be interesting to read the findings of the survey...

The Landy...
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Reply By: Rockape - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:33

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:33
Michelle,

A few years ago we were travelling through from Cairns to Mt Isa and stopped at Georgetown to catch up with an old mate. Well didn't feel like going to far next day due I think to the number of glasses of water I had drunk the night before so a short hop would be good.

As it was rodeo weekend in Croydon we rang ahead and asked about self contained accommodation at the van park. Ans. Yep we have a cabin due to a cancellation. Ques. How much. Ans $30 a night. Well that screamed out a warning that what we would get would be a broken down old donga.

Well I was in no state to travel on as every time my heart beat my eyes would cross. Bloody Georgetown water.

Weren't we gob smacked as the cabin was near new, fully self contained and even had sky channel.

So we stayed another day and would have stayed a further day but the cabin was booked.

I asked why it was so reasonable and the answer was to get people to stay longer and enjoy the area, which in turn meant money spent in the shire. It certainly worked in our case.

On the flip side I always stop and have a coffee at Gulthalungra. I get on well with the ladies there and always have a chat. Over the road is an overnight rest area that many travellers use. The toilets up until now have been at the truck stop although the DMR has just installed a toilet block at the rest area.

I asked one day if they got very much revenue from the travellers and the answer came back that you may sell a couple of drinks and a packet of chips once or twice a week to them. They also said they used to put soap, paper hand towel and tissues in the rest rooms but stopped that quickly as it was just being stolen.

RA.



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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:54

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:54
A few years ago as we were travelling down the Qld coast we were very impressed with what the community at St. Lawrence had done with their polo grounds. It was opened up for free (or maybe low cost) camping with coin in the slot showers. All good, but even better were the big blackboard signs inviting visitors to community BBQs, bingo nights etc, and the phone numbers of locals with specific knowledge of things like fishing and crabbing spots, birdwatching etc. It felt very welcoming.

Unfortunately we weren't able to stay on that occasion, but we did take the opportunity for a very welcome shower. But we have recommended St. Lawrence to many others and will be back there ourselves when next we are up that way. Its not just about getting people to stop and stay, but to get them to pass on their recommendation of these great little places.

Other Qld places that have impressed with good facilities in or close to town include Bollon and Condamine.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
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Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:29

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:29
Hullo Michelle

Thanks for bringing this to my attention - I enjoyed your initial post and the thought provoking comments that have followed.

I suspect that like many things raised on the forum, there are many perspectives.

We go bush with my tent, C/T or caravan to experience those parts of Australia that we would otherwise miss out on. Sometimes this means remote travel and camping, at other times it means staying for a short while in a small town or viillage. We have found that the latter has attracted us more and more over the past few years and the key reason is it has given us the opportunity to meet some amazing local people and learn about the local history and what life is about far from a capital or major city.

With an open mind, some time and the willingness to listen, it doesn't take long for us to find ourselves being "adopted" by a few people. Then the information flows, contacts are shared and we may even be invited into someone's home for a cuppa and/or to stay a night.

This is a good illustration of the concept of social capital, which essentially is about the value of social networks, bonding similar people and bridging between diverse people, with norms of reciprocity. It is about recognising that there is more to life than trying to measure everything in $s.

It's also about supporting rural people and communities, buying local - goods and services - and being prepared to pay a little more, recognising their higher costs associated with transport and less turnover. It certainly doesn't mean supporting the big supermarket stores that have led to the demise of so many small businesses!

As John and Val constantly remind us, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

Cheers
Andrew

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:56

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 22:56
:-))




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Reply By: ExplorOz - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:41

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:41
Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this interesting issue. I hope that something positive can come from these sorts of open forum discussions. Given there seems to be some serious attention by Tourism Qld and the Savannah Way planning council currently on these issues, it is important to have your say and as a collective we're a pretty good melting pot of experienced opinions I'd say!

Contine to add your comments to this post if you've just joined in. I"m sure, like many ExplorOz posts, this will get noticed by those that have a vested interest.

Cheers,
Michelle


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Reply By: Fred G NSW - Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 10:43

Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 10:43
This is a really great topic Michelle, thanks for getting it started.

Not much I can add to the wonderful responses, which I am sure echo most of the members thoughts on this, other than my thoughts on shopping local.

I just want to say that I am a firm believer of shopping local for the basics, especially fresh veges, meat, fruit, bread etc. There is no need to jam pack every nook and cranny of the caravan or vehicle with these, unless I suppose you are going really remote camping.

This way you not only help the local economy, but you have a steady supply of fresh food, and you actually get to meet and talk to the locals behind the counter, who mostly are only too happy to engage in a conversation, and both parties usually benifit from this.

Up at Coonabarabran, as some already know, we have a bush block out of town in the Pilliga, where our family and friends regularly go and camp, sometimes for 2 weeks at a time. We never take our supplies from home here in the Hunter Valley. We always shop in Coonabarabran on the way through to the camp, and then come back into town as required, including fuel and gas.

As an example, one of my favourites up there, is the little butcher shop, right across the road from the Woolworths complex (which BTW, put the small IGA out of business).
You won't buy better meat anywhere. They supply from their own stock (beef, lamb and pork) and the fellas behind the counter know when you're not local and will happily engage in a conversation with you, not only imparting their knowledge, but extracting yours. Most time they throw in a free packet of their local eggs with your purchase. This is the sort of service and friendliness from locals that stays with you, long after you have left their town.

I think the longer stays in the smaller towns, are more appealing to the Grey Nomads on the road, pensioners etc who mostly have no fixed time frame, and are happy to throw the anchor out when they find one of these appealing and friendly towns, where they feel safe, and are happy mix with locals for a while.

This topic is adding new locations to my black book as they are revealled :-)

Safe travels all.

Fred.
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Follow Up By: the_fitzroys - Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 10:54

Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 10:54
You raise a very good point about shopping local, Fred. We always try to provision in towns as we pass through and always seek out the sole operator rather than the big chains (if they're there). We had the most amazing lamb chops I've ever tasted from a small butcher in Mildura and I've been chasing that flavour ever since. I'm guessing they were local saltbush lamb. You're more likely to get locally produced goods at a small shop rather than stuff out of a distribution warehouse.
Louise
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 12:42

Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 12:42
What I like about the small local butchers, is that most of them make their own small goods as well. Ham, bacon, brawn, salami, better sausages, and often have other produce like local honey, eggs, homemade jams, pickles etc etc.
Then as well, there are those little country bakeries which I cannot drive past. One of the things I anticipate keenly when leaving on a trip, is the beautiful local produce waiting for me out there. Why would I leave home with a fridge/freezer full of Wollies or Coles stuff.

Cheers and safe travels to the_fitzroys, Louise.

Fred.
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Follow Up By: the_fitzroys - Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 12:53

Saturday, Apr 28, 2012 at 12:53
You're making me hungry now, Fred :-) Safe travels to you and yours as well.

Louise
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