What an incredibly challenging week it has been for regional NSW, QLD and WA, with bushfires blazing many parts of the country.
It is a really tough time for some, on top of, the current and horrendous drought situation affecting much of the country.
For so many, my heart goes out to the families and communities who just seem to be having to step up to challenge after challenge after challenge.
I was reading the other day about the amazing Grace Brennan who founded the #buyfromthebush hashtag. She started the hashtag on October 16 to encourage Australians living in the cities to support rural drought conditions.
Three weeks later it has 80,000 Instagram followers and has managed to breathe life into struggling businesses in the bush.
Grace lives on a farm with her husband and three children 70km from Warren NSW.
We are currently hurtling to that favourite time of year for many, and that is the Christmas and New Year break.
It is the fabulous time where we get to set the tools down, kick back, have a rest and take some much need time out with our families and friends.
Across the last few years TTF has conducted research that tells us that during this period, most people treat this time as one of their major vacations for the year.
However, while it might seem self-evident to many, the data also tells us that most people don’t tend to travel overseas.
For many, it is about local trips and maybe a week away from the city.
So…. what about as the tourism community, we started the hashtag #letsgovisitthebush?
The visit can be a day trip, an overnight stay or even just tacking off the main highway to pop into a town that you haven’t visited before.
Many families with interstate loved ones hit highways, railways and airports every year to head north or south, or east or west of the border, or over the Bass Strait in both directions, to catch up with family and friends across the Christmas period.
Rather than concentrating on getting from A to B in the fastest possible time, we could make these trips fun for everyone, particularly for those in the car.
A great example of what could be done is the Hume Highway from Melbourne to Sydney, which is full of amazing historical towns, rich in Australian stories.
Check out the beauty of Bright, get a selfie with Ned Kelly in Glenrowan.
Take a snap in front of Holbrook’s famous submarine and don’t forget to pop in and say hi to the Dog on the Tuckerbox just outside of Gundagai.
Gundagai itself is renowned for its historic bridges.
For every scone, ice block, a cup of coffee or toasted sandwich that we buy from country towns up and down the north coast, across to the west and into the Northern Territory, there is an opportunity for everyone to give back to the bush.
For me, regional Australia reminds me of the amazing history we have from the riverboat trades to bushrangers and the ability our forefathers had in creating their communities out of them at times extreme Australian climate.
I would love to get your feedback on the concept of #letsgovisitthebush, not only can we revisit Australia’s amazing history, but we can teach our visitors, our kids, nieces and nephews about some of the amazing stories that have come out of our country towns.
And hopefully, as our community, we can work to support our regional areas by giving back.
Even if it is just a cup of coffee and a packet of chips or a short walk to break the drive, everyone can take a snap, showcase the town and contribute to a small community in need.