Experience the high life

Article image - Experience the high life Gostwyck Chapel, south of Uralla in New England, was built in 1921 in memory of Major Clive Collingwood Dangar, who lost his life during World War 1. Four councils from the New England high country have joined forces, launching an ambitious campaign to draw tourists to the many and varied attractions of the region.

The $100,000 ‘Experience the Highs’ campaign came about as a result of Armidale Dumaresq Council’s 10 Year Tourism Strategy, which identified a ‘Need to leverage a strong and unified branding for tourism at a local level’ and a ‘Need to develop and expand tourism experiences for existing and new tourism markets’.

Recognising that drawing tourism to the region required a collective approach, Armidale Dumaresq enlisted four other councils into the campaign — the Shires of Guyra, Uralla and Walcha. Significant funding support came from ‘Destination NSW’ under its Regional Tourism Partnership Funding Program.

While it is estimated that tourism currently contributes in excess of $60 million to the high country economy per annum, ‘Experience the Highs’ takes a cutting edge approach to growing and expanding this contribution, drawing on local talent and expertise and encouraging local support for the initiative.

The campaign’s title, while clearly referring to the altitude and natural beauty of the region, also conjures up the artistic and cultural ‘highs’ associated with Armidale and its surrounds, including world-class galleries and a thriving food and wine industry.

Unique to the campaign is the award winning ‘Experience the Highs’ iPad app, which delivers 360° panoramic photos of the natural and other wonders of the region. The iPad app is complemented by a sleek, printed visitors guide, a Facebook page, a campaign website, and a concerted public relations campaign.

The ‘Experience the Highs’ app recently won the best Travel App Award at the 2012 Australian Mobile Awards, a great accomplishment for the local team who designed and produced the app on a small budget.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Tony Broomfield, Armidale Dumaresq Council’s Project Manager — Economic Development, Tourism & Marketing, commented that winning the category

“Is a fantastic achievement for our region. It will not only help showcase the spectacular tourism attractions we have to offer here, but will indicate that we are an area with a can-do attitude when it comes to marketing ourselves. By effectively pooling resources, we have all earned this accolade.”

The region’s marketing efforts are also being supported by the announcement of a major new acquisition for the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM), Margaret Olley’s famous Yellow Room Triptych.

Armidale Councillor and Chair of the Armidale Tourism Advisory Committee, Paul Harmer, stated that the ‘Experience the Highs’ campaign and the NERAM’s significant Australian art collections give visitors all the more reason to come to the Armidale, Guyra, Uralla and Walcha area.

“An abundance of National Parks with the highest waterfalls in the country, heritage tours, and an art scene worthy of our metropolitan counterparts – there truly is something for everyone to experience in the New England High Country.”