Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tamworth Country Music - book your bed now

If you’re heading to the legendary Country Music Festival in Tamworth this January and need to know where to stay, a few hints about places to rest your weary head when the singing’s done each day.

After all, with 2,500 events on offer, you don't want to worry about your base!

Rated among the world’s top 10 festivals, the Tamworth Country Music Festival is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and attracts people from all over Australia and around the world.

Although most of the hotel accommodation is booked out months in advance, camping, home hosting or staying in a nearby town are still viable options closer to the event.

“The friendly Tamworth community is always ready to welcome more people to join in the Festival fun and what better way than staying in a local’s home, or camping out beneath the starry country sky,” said Tourism Tamworth’s General Manager, Rebel Thomson.

Ms Thomson added that while Tamworth is always fully prepared to handle the influx of visitors each January, Festival-goers are advised to research their accommodation options well in advance.

Over 50,000 festival-goers take in 10 days of fun, music and memories, with many of them returning year after year with the event listed as a “must-do” on their annual calendars.

A comprehensive guide to Festival accommodation is available through Tourism Tamworth phone 02 6767 5300 or on the web at (follow the links to the accommodation pages). You will need to contact each accommodation service direct to make bookings.


Ranging from two and half to five star, Tamworth boasts over 30 motels and apartments, all within easy distance of the Festival venues which are usually the first to be booked out. You may get in on a cancellation, but don’t rely on this option.

Accessibility to festival venues, restaurants, cafes, clubs and shops are the advantages with this choice but there’s nothing too far from anything in Australia’s Country Music Capital.


Many of the hotels in Tamworth also serve as Festival venues so you’ll be right amongst the live music action should you choose to stay in one of the great pubs. At the end of a night-time show, your bed could be as close as one flight of stairs away!


Always popular is either a bed and breakfast or farm stay.

There are over a dozen B&B choices in the Tamworth Region, ranging from youth hostel style up to luxurious five-star and unique dwellings. Farm stays are the quintessential Aussie experience and hold great appeal for families.

With several located within easy driving distance of Tamworth, you have every opportunity to ensure the kids are entertained from dawn to dusk. The obvious advantages for both are that breakfast is included in the tariff, the comfort level is on a par with home and your hosts are more than happy to share their local knowledge.


As the popularity of the Festival grew and regular accommodation channels were at full capacity, the local Tamworthians opened their homes to visitors and now the Festival relies greatly on the local hospitality to facilitate the Home Hosting accommodation on offer.

Home hosting means you’ll get breakfast, home comforts, country hospitality and local information. There’s also the option of staying in a vacated home.

There are a few home hosting agencies that can help source a home stay, a farm stay, a vacated home or vacated caravan for you. Contact Tourism Tamworth for contact details.


Real estate agents can source fully furnished homes for rental during the festival. These are usually houses vacated by the owners specifically for the duration of the festival.


Some Tamworth residents choose to leave town for the duration of the Festival. If you want to swap your house with theirs, then it might pay to run an ad in the Tamworth newspaper, the Northern Daily Leader. Phone (02) 6768 1222 or email:


Camping or caravanning is the best pick if you’re booking late or if you’re on a small budget. The caravan parks in town offer the best facilities and always a friendly welcoming smile. A number of other venues open up specifically as temporary campgrounds for the festival, including the Tamworth Showground, the North Tamworth Rugby League Club, West Tamworth Leagues Club, McCarthy Catholic College and St Nicholas Primary School. If you don’t have your own camping gear, some places provide tents with beds, such as West Tamworth Leagues Club.

Outside town, there are other campgrounds available such as Attunga Sports Ground 20kms away); Lake Keepit (50kms away); and Kootingal Camping or Pony Club (20kms away). There are also temporary council campgrounds in: Attunga (20kms); Dungowan (20kms); Kootingal (20kms); Moonbi (25kms); Werris Creek (48kms) and Woolbrook (75kms).

Each caravan park and campground has different rules about bookings during festival time, so make sure you phone ahead and check before you leave home.


If you still can’t find a bed in Tamworth, then you’ll easily find accommodation in one of the neighbouring towns. Phone any of the following numbers in these towns for information:

Gunnedah: (77km from Tamworth) Visitor Information Centre (02) 6740 2230
Uralla: (91km from Tamworth) Visitor Information Centre (02) 6778 4496
Armidale: (112km from Tamworth) Visitor Information Centre (02) 6772 4655
Walcha: (97km from Tamworth) Council Tourism Officer (02) 6774 2460
Barraba: (141km from Tamworth) Visitor Information Centre (02) 6782 1255
Quirindi: ( 60km from Tamworth) Visitor Information Centre (02) 67461096


The Tamworth Country Music Festival runs from January 18 to January 27, 2008. For all enquiries, phone the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre on 02 67675300 or log onto You will need to contact the accommodation provider direct to make any booking.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Outstation now Open

Photo: John and Judy travel in traditional style.

The Outstation is a new farmstay in northwestern New England giving guests a realistic and relaxing experience of the bush.

The 3,500 hectare sheep and cattle property, located 80km west of Quirindi and 80km south of Gunnedah, has been held by the Simson family since 1887.

Owner Reg Simson decided to renovate the shearer’s cottage and open up the farm to visitors because the cottage was sitting idle for most of the year.

The cottage was originally an outstation – hence the name – and was moved in the 1950s to become part of the ‘Gannany’ homestead (Aboriginal word meaning ‘smoke rising from hill’).

Reg and his wife Fiona have two young sons, Andy and Alex. They aim to make their farmstay family friendly and hope to attract international visitors as well as Australians.

“We think we can offer a genuine Australian experience on a working farm,” Reg explained.

The property is covered with native pastures and trees and there is an abundance of native wildlife.

The cottage has three bedrooms and sleeps six people; a fully equipped kitchen including full sized gas stove; a living / dining area with 5-channel television and DVD player and open fireplace; two bathrooms, one with a claw foot bath and the other that doubles as a laundry. All linen, towels and bedding are supplied but guests need to bring all their own food.

Outside, there’s an all weather tennis court and a 10-metre in ground pool. Guests are invited to come on a farm drive to check stock waters or to assist with farm jobs if they choose.

“We want to allow guests just to experience the farm and the environment for what it is. I suppose it’s a low-key kind of approach,” said Reg.

For some local sightseeing, guests can take day trips to the Warrumbungles National Park, the village of Spring Ridge (35kms away), or to the towns of Quirindi and Gunnedah.

Rates are: adults (17+) single $75 per night; two or more $50 per night per person; children $20 per night per person.

For more information please phone (02) 6747 6257 or visit The Outstation is at 'Gananny', 6467 Bundella Road, Quirindi

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Armidale Demonstration School

Back in April I ran a post about the year 5 class, 1955, at the Armidale Demonstration School. This included a photo from Bruce Hoy along with some details on class members.

Bruce has now provided me with updated details on some of the class. I will re-run the photo with some added details. In the meantime, I wondered how many class mates or others who attended Dem are out there and might be interested in providing details of their experiences.

Do let me know.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

North Coast Voices a new New England political blog

I was pleased to get a comment from Petering Time advising me of the creation of a new blog, North Coast Voices.

There are far too few New England political blogs. I do not care from which political persuasion they come. We just need more. Otherwise, how can we have a debate? Do have a look.I have added them to my New England blog list.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why I remain a New England New Stater 7 - the case of the big river

Note to readers: This post is one in a series using personal examples to illustrate why I continue to support both agitation for New England self-government and self-government itself. Agitation, because its very existence forces forces the Sydney Government to consider New England interests. Self-government, because there are some things that we cannot achieve without this.

Once upon a time there was a big river. Rising in what is now called the New England Tablelands, it wound its way from the mountains to the sea.

To the area's original Aboriginal inhabitants, it was a great resource, giving them access to riverine and maritime resources. The European invaders attracted by land and resources such as timber were also struck by its size - they called it the big river. They founded towns and villages along its length. Grafton, the valley's capital, became a major inland port and one of the four biggest towns in New England.

Early on the valley's people became unhappy. They complained that all the revenue from land sales -a major source of revenue - was spent in the colonial capital of Sydney. They launched an independence movement to establish a new colonial government in Northern NSW. This died down, although they did extract some concessions.

Inland, the new Great Northern Railway snaked its way north, attracting freight. Worried, Grafton's civic leaders agitated for a railway to service the valley's hinterland. This agitation failed many times.

Federation and the new century saw local discontents reach another head.

Following the decision of the Sydney Government to stop the ferry service that linked the two parts of Grafton across the river, a local doctor launched a protest campaign that quickly turned into a new independence campaign for the North. War intervened, but then the campaign resumed centered on the North Coast Development League. This quickly created a sister league inland, laying the base for sustained agitation throughout much of the twentieth century for Northern independence within the Federation.

In 1967 the valley voted for independence from NSW. The overall vote was no because a sustained anti-campaign by the Labor Party led to a very strong no vote in its Newcastle stronghold.

The independence movement went into decline. As it did, so did the valley. What was not properly recognised at the time was that the very existence of the separation movement with its broader linkages was central to political recognition.

Today the river still flows. But the valley itself is much diminished.

Now counted as part of the Mid North Coast instead of the major element in what was called the Northern Rivers, squeezed between the growth of Coffs Harbour in the south and Richmond in the north, the valley has become a postscript.

I find this sad.

Return to introductory post

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New England's Federal Electorates - Cowper

This, the first of a series of reports on New England's federal electorates, examines Cowper.


Once a Clarence Valley electorate centered on Grafton and held by Earle Page for 42 years, progressive boundary changes have moved the electorate's focus south. Today the seat covers 7,911 between the Macleay and Clarence Rivers.

In the north, the seat covers a relatively small proportion of the Clarence Valley on the south side of the river including Maclean. Moving south, the first main centres are the coastal resorts of Woolgoolga and then Coffs Harbour, the biggest centre in the electorate with a population of over 60,000.

This is followed by a number of river valleys: the Bellinger (Urunga, Bellingen), the Nambucca (Nambucca Heads, Macksville) and the majority of the Macleay (Kempsey, South West Rocks). At the Bellinger, the electorate bulges inland to include the Tablelands around Dorrigo, once part of the New England electorate.

Economic and Demographic Change

Cowper is the poorest electorate in Australia.

According to the 2006 Census, Cowper has the nation's lowest median family income ($799), the highest proportion earning less than $650 per week (36.9%) and the lowest proportion earning more than $2,000 per week (7.0%). On official measures, unemployment is over 10 per cent. Real unemployment is significantly higher.

The raw economic data reflects an electorate undergoing fundamental change. The traditional rural industries of timber and dairying have declined in importance, being replaced by lower income generating activities of tourism and retirement. Attracted by the area's beauty, pockets of counter culture and alternative life style, especially Bellingen and Dorrigo, sit side by side with traditional activities.

At 5 per cent, Cowper has the twelfth highest indigenous proportion of the population of all Australian electorates. The indigenous proportion is especially high in Kempsey and the Macleay Valley, also areas of limited employment opportunities, especially for the unskilled.

Demographic Details

By way of background to the following, there are 150 Federal electorates in all.

129,465 people live in Cowper, nearly half now in Coffs Harbour. While I have not checked the demographics in detail, I would expect this dominance to increase both through tourism and because of the location of Government activities in Coffs.

This is an ageing electorate.

Nationally, it is the 12th oldest in the 65+ age bracket, with 18.2% of the population aged 65 or over. The proportion of those under 5 (5.5%) is the 23rd lowest, the proportion (50.5%) in the key working 25 to 64 years group is the 20th lowest. Only in the 5-14 year group (14.6%) does Cowper score better, coming in at 96th.

On another measure, at 30.2%, Cowper has the tenth lowest proportion in the country of couples with dependent children. On the other hand, at 14.7% it has the 5th highest proportion of one parent families with dependant children in the country.

Overall, Cowper's median age of 43 makes it the third oldest electorate in the country.

Turning to other indicators.

At 9.9%, Cowper has the 26th lowest proportion of overseas born, the 17th lowest (just 2.6%) born in non-English speaking countries. With a Christian proportion of 68.7%, it is the 42nd most Christian electorate in the country.

Compared to the national average, Cowper kids are more likely to be attending a Government school (72.5 per cent, 28th highest in the country), while the population as a whole has significantly less formal education: the proportion of the population completing year 10 or below is 55.8%, the eighth highest proportion in the country.

Cowper people are also less likely to have an Iiternet connection; 53% of households have some form of internet connection, the 22nd lowest proportion in the country. Only 27.5% have broadband.

On the other hand, Cowper residents are far more likely to won their own home outright than the national average, with 41.1% of all dwellings fully owned the 12th highest proportion in the country.

Those buying in the process of buying their own home face lower repayments: the median monthly housing loan repayment in Cowper was $1,031, the 32nd lowest figure in the country. At $168, median weekly rents are lower, with Cowper coming in at 41.

Past Voting Patterns

This has been traditional Country or National Party territory for many years, although there has been some erosive effect because of economic and demographic change.

On the seat's new boundaries, the primary vote at the last election was Nationals 50.5%, ALP 31.7% and Greens 8.9%. The higher than average Green vote is a measure of the presence of alternative counter culture views.

The sitting National member, Luke Hartsuyker, is contesting the seat again. This should make the seat a safe National seat. However, the seat is still one to watch.

A sign of this was Labor's decision in September to dump its originally chosen candidate John Fitzroy for Paul Sekfy. According to Antony Green, the reported reason in newspaper stories was that Labor internal polling indicated that Cowper could fall, and Labor wanted a more experienced and better known candidate in the seat.


Paul Nelson, Electoral division rankings: Census 2006 first release (2006 electoral boundaries), Parliamentary Library, Canberra October 2007.

Antony Green's election guide

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sir William Walkley, Ampol and the New England New State Movement

I was doing some research on the Walkley Awards. Named after Sir William Walkley, the Walkleys are Australia's top journalism awards. This reminded me of a New England linkage and a possible explanation to something that has always puzzled me.

Born in New Zealand, Sir William founded what would become Ampol Petroleum. Now how does this link to New England and our fight for self government?

In 1961, the New England New State Movement launched Operation Seventh State, a major fund raising campaign to support a new self government drive. I acted as an usher at the launch, wearing my first ever suit borrowed from my Uncle Jim.

Our target was to raise 100,000 pounds, a very large sum in those days. We were successful, leading to a very major campaign culminating in the 1967 self government vote.

As part of the campaign, the Movement decided to mount a major car drive on Sydney. The aim was to flood Sydney with thousands of demonstrators in the domain matched by press advertising. Because it was a car drive, the decision was also taken to swamp parking spots around the Domain even though this would incur fines.

The drive was organised with military precision by a team headed by General MacDonald from Wallabadah Station as marshall. This was my second New State demonstration - I organised the first at the request of ABC Four Corners to provide them with some TV footage - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But that's another story.

So what's the linkage with Ampol? While we were asked not to talk about it, and no-one did, Ampol provided free petrol. As I remember it, the company also offered to pay the parking fines.

The thing that has puzzled me? The Australian Soccer Federation acted to separate New England from NSW, creating a Northern NSW State League. I never knew how this happened. Now that I have read Sir William's ADB entry and learned of his connection with soccer, I suspect that I have the answer.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Economic Basis of Traditional Aboriginal Life in New England

Note to readers: This post is a work in progress. It is just going to take me longer to complete than I had expected. So it will probably be next weekend until I get it done. So do revisit to check progress.

Over on Personal Reflections I have been discussing the need for a new compact with Australia's indigenous peoples. In doing so I have been trying to write from a new perspective because I have found some of the discussion in recent years distorted and not especially helpful. Among other things, it distorts (at least as I see it) the teaching of Aboriginal history itself. The indigenous story itself seems to get lost in the discussion.

A few days ago I read a review of Paul Memmott's new book, Gunyar, Goondie and Wurley, an exploration of of the architectural and design methods used by our indigenous people. I bristled a little, not at the book itself (I have still to read it) but at the tone of the comments.

Surely people know this stuff, I thought. But I then thought, maybe they don't. Maybe the teaching of Aboriginal history has been as bad as I thought. Maybe my thinking has been too influenced by my own student experience at the University of New England in a period that is now starting to look more and more like something of an intellectual golden age.

The point? Memmott emphasized the sophistication of traditional Aboriginal design and architecture. I have known of this for forty years. Why is it not more widely recognised?

Given all this, I thought that I might try to bring at least some elements of traditional Aboriginal life alive in the area I know best. The material that follows does not pretend to be rigorous, although I will edit and add some links later.


In 1966 I had to select an honours thesis topic. I was part of Isabel McBryde's pioneering Australian pre-history group, I had already been on a number of digs and survey missions, and had studied the palaeolithic age as part of the foundation history course that all New England history students then had to do. As part of this, I already knew of the capacity of stone age peoples to build substantial structures.

I came from a family of economists and anthropologists. Cousin Cyril had argued against Karl Polanyi, stating that economics could be used to analyse non-money using societies. I decided to apply constructs drawn from economics to traditional Aboriginal economic life in Northern New South Wales. I did not argue that conventional economic models applied. Rather, I was interested in the application of the questions and the processes of economic analysis.

I faced a problem here. The left, especially what were then called the old left, within the history profession believed strongly that the Aborigines were in some way an example of primitive communism. The type of analysis I was doing, the questions I was asking of the material, fell well outside this view. I won't debate this further, except to say that I was happy with the outcomes of my analysis, if not with my academic results.

Information Sources

There was very little formal academic writing available. The small number of historians then interested in Australian history had ignored the indigenous story. The flowering of Australian pre-history itself was just getting underway, so there was limited archaeological material. I only became aware of the continued existence of an Aboriginal oral tradition when I read Malcolm Calley's PhD thesis on the Bandjalung fairly late in the piece.

In the absence of previous historical work, I relied on three main sources of information.

The first were previous anthropological and ethnographic studies. Unlike historians, anthropologists had written fairly extensively on the Aborigines. Further, there was a rich stream of often amateur ethnographic writing.

Many in nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia were fascinated by the Aborigines. Read today, I suspect that readers would focus on what the material said about European attitudes towards the Aborigines . While I found this interesting, I wasn't especially concerned with it beyond the need to take perceptual biases into account.

The anthropological and ethnographic studies revealed a complex pattern of economic life and social interaction across the continent, one far removed from the simple hunter-gatherer stereotype.

To test and extend this at local level, I relied on a combination of official reports and especially early settler records and reminiscences. These were often fragmentary, but in combination allowed me to build something of a picture.

The Importance of Geography

Today it is fashionable to speak about the relations between the Aborigines and the land. This is true, but I am not sure that people understand what it means.

Think about this.

Society was organised into family groups who occupied territories. Boundaries did shift, that was one question that interested me, but they were generally stable within individual lifetimes.

People walked. Of course they did, you might say. But do you know what it means?

People knew their own land. They knew where the resources were. But their vision of the land was formed by speed of movement. It was a big world. Walking through a major valley or across the plains along frequently travelled routes, they saw every variation. They knew every geographic form intimately, making it easy to attach meaning to the landscape.

Their daily life was determined by the availability of food and other resources. They knew the changing seasons and moved in harmony with them. When things went wrong, a major drought for example, they responded based on experience.

The Geography of New England

New England is an interesting area to study because it is a relatively small area with great but linked geographical diversity.

What we now call the New England Tablelands form the central geographic form. This, Australia's largest Tablelands, stretches from the northern edge of the Hunter Valley into Queensland. In Aboriginal times, this was a relatively harsh area, so population densities were lower.

To the east was found the humid coastal zone, a series of river valleys from the Tweed in the north to the Hunter. This was one of the richest, if not the richest, territories in Aboriginal Australia. There was, quite simply, an enormous amount of food. This allowed for high population densities and a relatively settled life style.

A series of rivers flow to the west of the New England Tablelands. The rivers plus the surrounding countryside also provided a rich food environment. Not as rich, however, because of climate. As the land dried out in droughts, the population concentrated on the rivers and water holes.

The Importance of Calories

Calories, the quantity of food within a territory, dominated Aboriginal life.

In general, the Aborigines did not have to work as hard as we do today to feed and cloth ourselves. I was fascinated when I first found this out from an anthropological study that charted daily life in the Northern territory, for I had really thought the opposite.

The amount of effort required to gather food varied from area to area and from time to time. When food was abundant, time could be devoted to other things. Social things. Ceremonial things. Trade. And what, today, we would call the creation of infrastructure.

Variety is the spice of life. As with any relatively wealthy community, it's not just the quantity of food that counts, but the variety and balance.

Daily life with its mixture of gathering and hunting provided variety and balance. But people also moved to take advantage of variations in food supply associated with seasonal change.

I started with the pre-conception that this type of seasonal movement was driven by the need for food. However, I quickly formed the view that the need for variety was just as important, that people moved even though other food supplies were still available.

With limited storage and food preservation, the carrying capacity - the immediate availability of food in particular areas - was critical to the pattern of life. Richer areas allowed for greater social gatherings, as did periodic food surpluses. These gatherings were important to social and economic life, including trade.

Trade and Ceremonial Exchange

Family or horde territories provided the daily staples of life. This was supplemented by trade routes and exchange cycles that spread across the continent. These had practical and ceremonial elements.

The Moore Creek axe factory near Tamworth was a significant industrial site. Axes from here have been found across a vast area of inland NSW. I could not find, I do not know if anybody has since, information about the organisation and ownership of the site or indeed of other equivalent industrial sites. So I do not know whether this was a resource controlled by a particular family group or whether it was in some way a shared resource.

While trade took place for practical reasons, there were also major ceremonial elements, with gifts exchanged at gatherings for cultural and ceremonial reasons. We know from evidence elsewhere in Australia that such artifacts could be re-exchanged, acquiring greater value in the process.

Farming, Fire Sticks and the Environment

Given that farming existed in New Guinea, I started my work wondering why agriculture had not arrived in Australia. I quickly found a far more complicated picture than I had expected.

To begin with, why farm when you don't need to? The story of agriculture is closely linked to the creation of structured societies in which the surplus extracted from the farming population

To be continued.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Death of Peter Monley - a personal memoir

This is a very belated and personal post in memory of Peter Monley. Denise and I did not know that Peter had died last December (2006) until just last week. We were both upset.

Peter occupied a very special place in my life, so I thought that I should set down some memories.

Peter's dad had a men's wear store down the western end of Beardy Street. But while I knew who the Monleys were, I did not really know Peter until he came to The Armidale School (TAS) in 1961. This was my leaving certificate year and we became great mates. Among other things we were both day boys, played football together and talked a lot.

Towards the end of the year we agreed to go hitchiking together in Tasmania. To my great regret, Peter was not able to go in the end and I went on my own.

Peter finished that year, while I went back to school to repeat the Leaving because my parents felt that I would benefit from another year at school before going to university. Life now took us in different ways. Peter became a teacher, while I finished University and then went to Canberra to join the Commonwealth Public Service. Our contacts became fleeting.

In 1981 I returned to the University of New England to work on my PhD. In the meantime, Peter had purchased a small property just to the west of Armidale - something he had wanted to do - and had become a councillor with Dumaresq Shire.

At this point the Federal Government decided, in one of those unilateral acts that we have seen so often over the years, that the Armidale of College of Advanced Education and the University of New England should be forced to merge. I was opposed to this, and contacted Peter who agreed that we should organise a public protest.

We had to handle this carefully. I was a senior public servant on leave, while relations at the time between Armidale City Council and Dumaresq Shire were absolutely poisonous. This meant that any public involvement by Peter would be a kiss of death so far as the Armidale Council and mayor were concerned.

My job was to get University support. Here I sent a formal memo to Professor Gates as VC setting out what we proposed and why. He signed off on the approach, so we had formal top level University support. For Peter's part, he worked his contacts on Armidale Council, getting them to support a protest so that its organisation became Armidale City Council business. The resulting protest was a huge success, drawing a crowd of some four thousand and gaining national media coverage. The merger was put off, if only for the moment.

Peter was a doughty fighter for local causes.

One thing that you learn in regional Australia is that preservation of what you have requires constant vigilance. Peter knew this. When CSIRO decided to close its local research facility - a facility with a long history that owed its original existence to a local donation of land - Peter went into the fight. The facility was not only saved, but expanded.

Under Peter's leadership, Dumaresq Shire became an innovative Shire well supported by those living within it. Armidale's regional airport is one outcome. There were mistakes, there always are when you are trying to do new things, but the overall record was positive.

Things change. When Peter concluded that the interests of Shire residents would be best served by a merger with Armidale City Council, he steered the merger through in spite of opposition from some residents and councillors, becoming foundation mayor of the new Armidale-Dumaresq Council.

I see that the Armidale-Dumaresq Council is thinking about naming a road in his honour. I think that that would be a small but suitable tribute for a life of service.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ned Sherrin, the University of New England and That Was the Week that Was

I see that Ned Sherrin (1931-2007) has died.

Ned Sherrin rose to fame as the creator of That Was the Week that Was, the British TV program that launched the satire boom of the 1960s.

I wonder how many University of New England students from the 1960s remember the UNE equivalent?

The UNE Union decided to launch a local version. Each Friday three speakers would be selected, wined and dined, then escorted to the Belshaw Room to entertain the assembled throng of staff and students. The event was hugely popular.

For my part, while I could not tell a joke to save my life, I could get people to laugh through irony and understatement. So I quickly discovered that this was a great way to have a good lunch at Union expense, while also having some fun.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why I remain New England New Stater 6 - conflicts in NSW tourism branding

Note to readers: This post is one in a series using personal examples to illustrate why I continue to support both agitation for New England self-government and self-government itself. Agitation, because its very existence forces forces the Sydney Government to consider New England interests. Self-government, because there are some things that we cannot achieve without this.

In my first post on tourism, the strange case of Cockington Green, I set out my frustrations at our inability to get proper visitor data as compared to, say, the ACT. This post extends my argument by looking at Tourism NSW.

NSW's size and variety, it's lack of cohesion, makes it hard to promote as a tourist destination. To manage this, Tourism NSW (we are all very much into business speak) has two defined brands, Brand Sydney and Brand NSW.

Tourism NSW describes Brand Sydney in this way:

Sydney is a world city – outward looking, influencing and interpreting global trends. Yet it’s clearly distinct from other global cities, and it epitomises Australia’s exuberant spirit. Sydney’s image is a virtual “brand”, offering powerful benefits for tourism, for business and for attracting investment not just to NSW but to Australia as a whole. While many private and government organisations contribute to the development of Sydney’s image, the custodian of Brand Sydney is Tourism NSW.

At another point Tourism NSW says:

Tourism NSW implements two Brand Sydney campaigns each year, supported by ongoing publicity for the city and its precincts, products and events. These brand campaigns offer tactical promotion and publicity opportunities for the tourism industry and other partners.

It adds:

Tourism NSW promotes Sydney with multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaigns. The tagline - There's no place in the world like Sydney - sums up the core advertising proposition.

The second brand is Brand NSW. Brand NSW is described in this way:

The proximity to Australia’s biggest city, and the extraordinarily varied experiences a visitor can find in regional NSW, make this an appealing holiday destination. Furthermore, a holiday in regional NSW abounds with opportunities to connect with nature, history and heritage.

What a second run thing. Operators across regional NSW complain, mainly in private, about the focus.

Think I am being unfair? Please visit the Tourism NSW web site and tell me what you think.

My view is that New England needs its own brand if it ever going to attract visitors in its own right. Otherwise, it is just too fragmented.

Best results would be obtained through statehood. But even a revived New State Movement would help by forcing Sydney to listen.

Return to introductory post

Monday, October 01, 2007

New England Australia - end month review September 2007

As part of my end months review, I looked at the last eighteen posts to come to this blog.

One, a very small number, came as a direct hit. Three came from my other blogs. That left 14 from search engines. So what can we tell here?

The first search, on Google Australia whole web was on patrice newell. This brought the searcher in at 17 to In praise of Patrice Newell. I like this post, which was triggered by my reading of Patrice's book The River.

Patrice lives at Elmood at Gundy. Here there were two Google searches using identical search terms - elmswood gundy nsw. Both searches brought them at number 10 to Secrets of New England - along the Fossickers Way 2, another good post. Mind you, I need to continue this series since everyone has been stuck at Nundle for many months!

Then came a search on Google UK - judith wright aborigine. This brought the visitor in at 6 to The Poetry of Judith Wright - Bora Ring. Another searcher on Google Switzerland on bora ring rider's heart found the Bora Ring post at number one. Then there was a third search on Google Australia, this time on judith wright poetry. This found both the Bora Ring post, this time at 29 and then at 28 The Poetry of Judith Wright - South of My Days.

The Judith Wright posts are a major source of traffic on this blog. Just checking, three of the most recent ten searches were also on Judith Wright. I suspect the traffic will die down once the year 12 exams are over. In the meantime, it is nice to think that at least some of my writing is being read.

The next search was on blogscope -Armidale - and found at 3 Armidale 1945 VJ parade. This is a short photo post.

Then came a search on a search engine that I had never heard of, SweetIM. This search on landscape new england australia brought in at 3 The past is always present - the Country Party. I hope that the searcher was not too disappointed because this post deals with the political landscape!

Then came a search on Google Australa, whole web, death at copeton dam. This brought up the blog front page simply, I think, because I had a story on New England dam levels, although I have run a story on fishing at Copeton dam since. In similar vein, a Google Australia, whole web search on glenbawn dam history brought up the front page at number 12.

A Google Australia, whole web search on nsw new england railway brought up the Great Northern Railway - End of the Line Continued: Wallangarra Railway Station at number 3.

Then came a post on Google Australia, whole web, armidale white bull. This brought up at number 2, The End of Armidale's Club Hotel, a story of the rebuilding and renaming of the pub.

Finally, a search on Google - Golden Heart Contest Dallas Texas - brought up at 3, New England writer wins Golden Heart Award, the story of Bronwyn Clarke's victory.

In all, a mixed bag!