NSW Tourism and RTA need to pull their finger out and take a good hard look at themselves. On my long weekend drive up to Scott’s Head, I came to realise that highways are not killing small country towns. A lack of imagination in government and McDonalds are killing the tourists adventure.
Scott’s Head is now a 5 hour drive from Sydney, thanks to some impressive new highways. What’s not impressive is the lack of tourist stops on offer to sample and engage with the local towns along the way. The major stop along the way is Taree service station stop, which was packed wall to wall with people getting their fix of junk food and coffee from McDonalds and KFC.
On a 5hr drive I want to stop two (maybe three) times to stretch and get some food. I want it to be accessible to the highway, I want it to be relaxing and I want to feel like I am exploring a new place. I don’t want to go to McDonalds. However NSW Tourism offers me either a desolated picnic bench on the side of highway or junk food with the masses.
Why can I not stop in Raymond Terrace, Bulahdelah, Kew, Telegraph Point and many others to sample local jams, chomp on a cow for lunch, eat fresh local rock oysters or try my hand at fishing? I am a tourist that wants to experience something cool when I fill up with petrol.
Yes, I stopped at McDonalds and I regretted it. What I will remember was buying local homemade chutney for $4 on Belmore Right Bank Road on my way to Cessnock and having it on my ham and cheese roll for lunch by the water. Why could I not have that at Fredericton with a two headed local?
Arrive alive they say, yet RTA are not laying the platform for local towns to woo us for coffee, lunch and a quick stop. Don’t tell us to stop, give us a reason. You might find more people will stop. By giving us a reason to stop you boosts the local economy and give more city slickers a reason to move up the coast.
When last did you visit a tourist centre (you find that stuff online now). NSW Tourism must stop killing local tourism with highway McDonalds, by changing tourist centres into local engagement stops near highways.
And please not another crafts store, don’t sell. You must “engage” with local activities.
When I drove through Jerseyville, a sleepy town just before South West Rocks with more cows than people, I just wanted to stop to try the local beef (and tip a cow). I would travel to this town for a steak and I am sure many more would too if NSW Tourism wanted you too.
Maybe it’s just me, or have you driven through a small town in NSW and wanted to try something local but it has not been on offer?
p.s. I have nothing against McDonald’s, they are a business with the right to make an offer to people. I just don’t want it to be the only offer available when I am travelling and exploring new places. What do you want when you travel?