There’s a world of tourism gems hidden in the outback

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
A young boy watches on as Banjima young men dance at the Karijini Experience.
Camera IconA young boy watches on as Banjima young men dance at the Karijini Experience. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

Suggestions for improving the State’s tourism woes are a dime a dozen at the moment.

One of the regular thought bubbles popping up is the idea of attracting more events to WA.

It is a good idea, potentially, but we already have a heap of events in the regions, with brilliant imagery for tourism promotions, which we are not leveraging off.

We often hear international visitors want an indigenous experience, but cannot find one.

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Imagine if we had a festival out in the bush where indigenous singers performed alongside a string quartet deep in the gorges during the day, and guests were invited by elders to join a corroboree as the full moon rises at night. Paints a striking image, doesn’t it?

Tourism with a social conscience is booming, and we could offer it in droves. What if tourists could play a role in helping raise awareness of indigenous cultural practices in the Kimberley?

Imagine three days on a remote desert island feasting on seafood paella caught off the beach right on your doorstep. Or perhaps a bout of night-time karaoke around a fireplace to the smooth sound of a didgeridoo after a celebrity chef degustation menu?

What about a gourmet barbecue at the foot of Australia’s biggest rock? That is something no other State in the nation can offer.

I haven’t pulled any of these event ideas from thin air. They all exist already in our State, but few people outside of those in the know are aware of them.

The Karijini Experience runs over a week during April school holidays and presents a perfect harmony of ancient landscape and culture. It is exactly what those crying out for authentic indigenous experiences are looking for.

Dancing in the red dirt with traditional owners after spending a day engaging in their culture as equals is the kind of memory that lasts a lifetime, and the kind of memory people will go home and talk about.

In the Kimberley, the Mowanjum Festival in July is an incredible source of pride for the Mowanjum people. It has played a pivotal role in bringing back traditional dances which elders thought had been lost.

The tourists who have attended have been important to its success, not only financially, but in helping instil a sense of pride in the culture.

The Dirk Hartog Island Gourmet Escape and Mt Augustus barbecue cook-up — both part of the Gascoyne Food Festival — offer high-end food experiences that you cannot get anywhere else. The photos and videos of these events are highly marketable.

These are just a few incredible events run by community organisations that put the takings back into their communities. They do get help from government and business, but don’t have the money to run big-budget marketing.

With more help from stakeholders — government, travel industry, media — they and many others could sell WA’s food, culture and landscape to the world in a way we are yet to truly embrace.

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