Payoff from investing in hidden treasure tourism

Initiated thanks to a $90,000 Federal Government Inspiring Australia grant, The Hidden National Treasure Project has transformed regional communities in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. Residents and landowners in the region are now qualified and confident to create value through acting as geological tour guides.

There’s an old saying, “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. With the help of Inspiring Australia, Flinders Ranges locals have developed their own version: “Teach an outback guide about her landscape and how to confidently lead tours, and she’ll pass on the new knowledge for a lifetime!”

As a result of the program, ten residents of the Flinders Ranges area graduated from the Certificate III in Tourism (Guiding), and 16 people completed the advanced geology course delivered by SA Museum’s Ediacaran expert Dr Jim Gehling.

Participant Sally Henery now conducts regular geological and fossil tours on her property Alpana Station.

“I use what I learned on the Hidden National Treasures course on each and every tour,” Sally says. “One of the best pieces of feedback I have received is when a passenger commented that they were now seeing the scenery with new eyes and a whole new perspective.”

But the benefits extend far beyond Sally, her fellow trainees and their lucky guests. With the initial project running over 2012-2014, Inspiring Australia’s investment will also pay dividends into the future.

“We’ve set up a Hidden Treasures development group and we’re developing further tourism products and experiences,” says Project Coordinator Damia Ettakadoumi. “We expect that in the future we’ll also be able to get solid buy in from the tourism industry.”

International and Australian tourists enjoy over 4 million overnight trips to regional South Australia per year.

Image: Nilpena-fossils

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