Kangaroo Island. Hutt Lagoon. Wave Rock. Ningaloo Reef. Kalbarri National Park. Flinders Island. Port Stephens. Stockton Beach. Wilsons Prom. Glass House Mountains. Blue Mountains. Norfolk Island. Simpson Desert. Hunter Valley. Coober Pedy. Kakadu National Park. Cradle Mountain. Great Ocean Road.
Scrap that. How many on that list can you confidently say you even know about? Apart from the higher profile regional suspects like the Great Ocean Road, Margaret River, Blue Mountains, Port Douglas, I suspect an overwhelmingly high proportion of us who live in Australia, have no idea where these places are.
There’s no doubt that regional Australia holds the key to undiscovered destinations, lesser-known experiences. And our new normal has given the opportunity for a new generation of savvy, worldly millennial travellers who are hungry and more curious than ever to explore closer to home. Beyond just pure wanderlust, what’s really hit home in this pandemic is that travel and tourism ARE the lives and livelihood of real people, and a key part to our economy.
First, intrastate travel will return — we’re likely to start taking short trips within our own state. I know I can’t wait to relive the Great Ocean Road Drive (where I last went as a carefree 3 year old who loved the crashing waves and wild winds in winter), or head out east down Wilsons Prom and Gippsland. Much like Sydneysiders are already thinking of the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains, while Perth dwellers are getting themselves packed and ready for drone shots of Margaret River, Esperance or that pink lake.
Then, interstate travel should return soon after, when interstate borders are able to safely re-open. Whether return to flying, or decide to drive instead — perhaps more of us will work while travelling on the road, while others will try their hand at building their own home in a van.
And the numbers are interesting. Australians spent MORE on intrastate and interstate trips in 2019 ($107B), than we did internationally ($54B), and in comparison to the $31B international visitors spent in Australia. Deloitte Access Economics ran the numbers and found that when intrastate travel returns first, and if we were able to redirect even part of our international spend to domestic tourism, that it could be worth up to an additional $37B to NSW and $27B to VIC. Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign, alongside campaign efforts from state and regional tourism boards, are aimed at tantalising Australians to venture out into their own backyards.
Yes, it will take years for international travel to get back to 2019 levels. The industry was booming and we were travelling more than ever. It was a luxury that was made so available that it became a necessary part of our a way of life. It was an absolute privilege that we were starting to take for granted. But what if we looked at this differently? We are by nature curious explorers and easily bored — we are still eager to discover new places, experience new things, meet new people. But perhaps, we might need to do this just a little differently. In the last 2 months, I’ve discovered more about Australia than I’ve ever known. Coastal drives, smaller towns, natural wonders, cabin stays in the wilderness; vineyards, distilleries and breweries behind Australia’s very own wines, gins and beer; culinary adventures, cultural adventures and more. Australia’s grown up without us even noticing.
We’re celebrating places, people and experiences across Australia. Lesser-known places that are undiscovered, regional gems that have flown under our radar, people and businesses behind these experiences. Over the next 8 weeks, look out for our Top 30 list, Q&A’s with business owners and travel creators, roundups of tips and recommendations for the best that you’ve yet to experience in regional Australia.
As the new generation of domestic travellers bring about a new wave of travel, it’s time for us to shine a light on places, people, and experiences across regional Australia. We’re lucky in Australia to be large enough to travel domestically, even while borders stay closed to international travel. It’s time for you to Rediscover Australia.
We’d love for you to contribute to #RediscoveringAustralia: For the New Gen. Get in touch at email@example.com.