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Southern Cross University leads the nation with a farm and nature tourism initiative


Zoe Satherley
11 October 2006
Southern Cross University and the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre are set to launch a major initiative in farm and nature tourism.

For the first time in Australia, an extensive program will be available to people wishing to develop their farm-based and nature tourism proposals into working businesses.

The initial pilot project will focus on the Northern Rivers and if successful, will be rolled out in regional areas across NSW and the rest of Australia.

The project begins this month, with an invitation to interested people to attend a series of Tourism on Your Property Field Days, at Byron Bay, Lismore, Kyogle and the Clarence Valley.

Each year, the Northern Rivers attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists seeking a diverse range of tourism experiences. Many of these visitors to the region are seeking a nature-based experience in the area’s unique coastal and rural landscape, said project coordinator, Rose Wright, industry extension manager at Southern Cross University’s Australian Regional Tourism Research Centre.

Ms Wright said the joint project was being conducted in partnership with Byron, Lismore, Clarence and Kyogle Councils.

Federal and State Ministers for Tourism, the NSW Department of State and Regional Development, Tourism NSW and the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board have all been briefed and given in principle support for the program.

“Through this exciting initiative, farmers and rural landowners will have the opportunity to investigate tourism as a diversification option to their core business,” Ms Wright said.

“This will further add to the region’s incredible visitor appeal and also open up new streams of revenue to farmers, rural land owners and people who may not hold any land, but have a great farm or nature tourism idea they would like help to develop.”

Byron Shire Council will be the first Australian local council to host a Tourism on your Property Field Day. This will be held on a local working agri-tourism property, on Monday, October 23.

Byron Shire Mayor, Cr Jan Barham, believes the tourism field days are an essential step in assisting landowners who may be considering diversifying into tourism.

“Byron Council has an award-winning biodiversity conservation strategy which involves assessment and management and we have also worked with local farmers to produce a sustainable agriculture strategy,” Ms Barham said.

“Both of these projects support landowners moving into tourism, based on conservation and or agriculture, and have the potential to offer unique experiences for visitors.

“These tourism options will also provide an important educational base, as well as quality time in a beautiful rural environment.”

During the field days, informative sessions with specialist guest speakers from the tourism and agricultural industry will provide an invaluable insight into important issues to consider prior to investing time and resources into developing a tourism business.

“The field days will provide landowners who are interested in tourism with expert advice and the opportunity to experience an existing tourism property,” Ms Barham said.

“The program provides rural landowners with key information to allow them to make an informed decision about expanding into a tourism business. If they choose to proceed, they will have the skills and support to confidently expand on their current businesses or explore a new business.”

Rose Wright said the University felt it was important to develop a workshop program that was not only informative for farmers and rural landowners, but was time and location sensitive, so as to ensure each person who attends gets value for their effort.

“The tourism field days will be interactive. Participants will not only listen to industry experts, but will also undertake a simple assessment program that will help them identify if their property and their area are suitable for agri or nature-based tourism,” she said.

The rollout of Tourism on Your Property Field Days throughout the Northern Rivers region will continue throughout October with days being held in Lismore (Tues 24th Oct); Clarence Valley (Wed 25th Oct) and Kyogle (Thurs 26th Oct).

People wishing to attend the tourism field days must register in advance to reserve a place.

Contact Kylie Causley on (02) 6626 9431 or email [email protected] by Thursday, October 19.

General contact: For more information about the program contact Rose Wright, Australian Regional Tourism Research Centre on 0427 232 246 or email [email protected] or visit

Photo: Rose Wright, Tourism on Your Property Field Days coordinator and industry extension manager at Southern Cross University's Australian Regional Tourism Research Centre.