The economic benefit that grey nomads bring to the Outback has never been more valued by rural communities, and so it is no surprise to learn that tourism bigwigs want to find out exactly what we love about travelling there.
What is a surprise however is that it’s not the scenery, or the wildlife, or the night sky that gets us most excited … it’s the nightlife!
A study by the Outback Queensland Tourism Association (OQTA) found that most visitors to the state’s central west … covering such towns as Blackall, Longreach, Winton and Boulia … were aged 54 years plus, mostly travelled in pairs, and liked free camping spots as well as paid ones.
Sounds like us.
Interestingly, the study of 500 visitors conducted last August, also discovered that while most visitors consider they are effectively passing through western Queensland, they still like to have a good time while they are there … and it ain’t just the bushwalks and the bandicoots we’re talking about.
“It’s camp fire dinners that the caravan parks put on,” said Outback Queensland Tourism Association’s Matt Bron. “It’s that social side of the travelling community that a lot of locals don’t actually see in these country towns.”
The tourists told researchers they found there were more things to do in the west than they had realised and this has prompted the OQTA to fight harder for more marketing dollars … and the ways it can be achieved is now being explained to local councils.
“We want to try to tell them more about what’s here before they get here and that might get them to stay an extra night or two,” said Mr Bron. “They see outback Queensland as a staging point or part of their journey, it’s not a destination in its own right.”
The research showed that half of the visitors surveyed came from south-east Queensland, with the remainder from southern states … but they only spent six or seven days out of an average 35-day trip, in the central-west.
The average budget was approximately $90 per day, per person.