It’s hard to find a country that has everything, but the more time I spend on the road for TTF, the more certain I am that Australia has it all.

Exploring and finding out what our country has to offer is one of my favorite things to do and I am constantly surprised and thrilled to find a new place or new content in the old and familiar.

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to travel to many corners of the world but my most memorable and special travel experiences have been had here in Oz.
From brilliant red deserts to tropical rainforests, snowy mountains to untouched beaches to remote rocky escarpments and massive cattle stations.

Regional Australia is having a tourism ‘Renaisance’ with more and more Aussies along with international visitors, discovering the real country.

Critical to the future of our regional tourism is the infrastructure that makes it possible to access great national parks and communities and the services and facilities that tourists need and expect.

And this travel generates economic activity which supports the employment of hundreds of thousands of Australians in every region of the country.

In the last few weeks, I have been able to see several investments in regional infrastructure come to life.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend the opening of a new cruise ship wharf in Eden on the NSW South Coast.

The extension of the existing wharf is a dollars and cents partnership involving the NSW Government contributing $32 million, $10 million from the Australian

Government and $2 million from Bega Valley Shire Council. Increasingly regional ports are sought after cruise destinations but it takes facilities and ‘content’ to make these stops ‘a winner’.

Eden has been hosting cruise ships since 2005. The first cruise ship to use the new wharf will be the Pacific Explorer, scheduled to arrive with more than 2,000 passengers on September 15. It will be followed by another 21 cruise ships during the cruise season with visits increasing in the coming years.

This means a huge boost to the local economy from shops in Eden to great local watering holes like Longstocking and terrific tour operators like Captain Sponge, who can tell you all you need to know about growing the famous local oysters.

Captain Sponge [alias Brett Weingarth] has been farming oysters for more than a decade in the Merimbula and Pambula Lakes. I had a ball aboard Sponge’s motorised punt, skipping over Pambula Lake on a Magical Oyster Tour..

From there I headed more than 3000 km north to beautiful Kakadu where I was present for the signing of the historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Jabiru, safeguarding the town’s future as the tourism and services hub for the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

The MoU was signed by Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Selena Uibo, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and Traditional Owners from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC).

Kakadu is one of the sparkling jewels in Australia’s Destination crown. Jabiru is the gateway to Kakadu National Park and as the town transitions from supporting the Ranger Mine, it is critical that we work together to make sure the region can thrive as a regional services and tourism hub for the park.

The tireless work of Justin O’Brien CEO of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and people like him who wont take ‘no’ for an answer and are passionate about the tourism potential of our gorgeous regional areas are the ones who make the difference.

The knock-on effect of both these regional investment projects events will undoubtedly benefit the entire tourism industry.

Having had the opportunity to witness both amazing events, really does drive home how critical it is to support our regions but also the importance of getting out and exploring them too.

What great experiences and while it is more work than play, and I can’t wait for the next adventure.