It’s the first port of call … but where do we find it?

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Visitor Information Centres for grey nomads
Where is the best place to find information?

One of the first things that many grey nomads do when they arrive in a new town is to seek out the local Visitor Information Centre … but where should they expect to find it? On the edge of town with plenty of parking for big rigs, or in the heart of the CBD?

Where to locate these ‘visitor magnets’ is a conundrum for many rural communities. They want to ensure the centres are easy for visitors to use, but they also want to draw them into their commercial heart.

The New South Wales town of Gunnedah is currently considering whether to move its Visitor Information Centre from ANZAC Park to a more central position. Apparently, the potential benefits of having council staff in one location and of attracting visitors to the CBD are the motives behind the proposal.

The Gunnedah Shire council review will consider visitor numbers, digital presence, signage, CBD visitation, highway traffic, parking, grant funding, and possibly alternate uses of the current visitor centre before making a decision.

Gunnedah Mayor Owen Hasler told a recent council meeting that statistics showed 80% of visitors to the shire were grey nomads.

“We must be adaptable in a changing environment and look at how much more we can do for the travelling public,” he said.

The town’s Chamber of Commerce says it considers attracting tourists to the town’s CBD ‘essential’, but there was strong opposition in some quarters to the idea of moving the information centre to the town hall.

The Namoi Valley Independent newspaper reported that the key concerns were that parking would be a problem for RVers, and that many grey nomads would not be prepared to take a long walk to get to the information centre.

Many members of the public told the council meeting that the existing location was the ideal site for the Visitor Information Centre because it had plenty of parking and was close to the Lions Park where travellers could stop for a break.

Local resident Pat Mayoh said he had travelled extensively in Australia and needed a spacious area to park his 15-metre rig.

“Gunnedah is brilliant for parking and, in my experience, people will seek out the tourist office if they want it,” he said. “All that is needed is good signage to send them there.”

Another speaker, Don Pasterski, said people would find the CBD if they wanted to.
“All that is needed is for staff at the Visitor Information Centre to provide a town map, marking where the supermarkets are and where they can find parking for their long vehicle,” he said. “The Gunnedah Visitor Information Centre is in the best spot where it is – the problem is poor signage … would it not be better to spend $20 on a sign than build a new centre?”

The council will listen to feedback on the issue and produce a draft report next April. The council is expected to make a decision in May.

Do you prefer Visitor Information Centres on the outskirts of town with good parking, or in the town centre? Do you regularly visit Visitor Information Centres? What information are you generally after? Comment below.

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10 Responses to It’s the first port of call … but where do we find it?

  1. Leave it on the edge of town with plenty of parking. They could include a few dog run so visitors could hire for the day so they can visit the CBD or surrounding areas.

  2. leave them on the outskirts with plenty of parking. shady trees. rv dumps. free showers. we can walk to the shops. Quairading wa has done just that. also plenty of long rig parking outside the shops. very truck and rv friendly.

  3. Leave it on the edge of town with easy access to parking. We use signage to direct us to the Information Centre. We visit the local website before arriving in a town to check for shops needed. Supermarket, butcher, bakery etc. please update these as they are very helpful.

  4. Edge of town, like Bourke where they don’t only have heaps of parking, some undercover, but also water and a dump point. Great info centre too!

  5. They should be on the outskirts of town with plenty of parking for cars and big rigs. Would be unreal if they all had water available, toilets and hot showers even if you had to pay a few bucks.

  6. Somewhere were you can park your rig easily. Decent signage, facilities. Friendly staff who can help with your inquiry.

  7. Both of us are in our seventies but still able to walk and read but parking in the cbd of any town or city with a big rig is near impossible. Leave it on the outskirts and improve the signage for the other facilities.

  8. Leave it on edge of town, with plenty of easy parking for reasonable number of hours.
    Make it interesting and I will stay around.
    Ensure there are plenty of signs to supermarkets, bakeries etc. as most people will walk.

  9. With us Grey Nomads and our mobile home we want space to park, rather than have to walk anything like up to 500 metres to visit the centre.
    We always find the staff at these centres 100% helpful.
    This is where we should voice our concerns re lack of free camping in and around their respective towns.
    But !!! Keep up the good work Info centres.

  10. Heathcote in Victoria, The info centre is right in the middle of town,

    But they do have big rig parking beside the info centre, and the next street back has a long street where you can park the big rigs easily,

    Walk to the shops is one block,

    The info staff in all the info places I have visited, Have been more than helpfull,

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