Drought concert, AgQuip benefits manifold: local leaders

A shot of the car park at AgQuip - one of the big events coming to the region in the next few months that are expected to boost more than just the economy.
A shot of the car park at AgQuip - one of the big events coming to the region in the next few months that are expected to boost more than just the economy.

BIG events such as AgQuip and the just-announced Hay Mate: Buy a Bale concert will bring a welcome triple boost to the region in a tough time, according to civic leaders.

Not only will these drawcards be an economic shot in the arm, but they will also lift the spirits of locals caught in drought, they said. And the another aspect to consider, they say, is connection.

With Australia’s biggest field days next week and John Farnham headlining the October drought relief concert, Col Murray said “hospitality and accommodation sectors will be well-served” and retailers should also benefit.

But he said the host towns would also become hubs for visitors to meet and hear from drought-affected farmers and business people.

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Cr Murray and many others – both city- and country-based – have been calling for people touched by the challenges of rural areas to not only send their donations but also to get out, visit, and spend some money there.

“There seems to be a genuine desire with city folk to actually connect with the farming people,” Cr Murray said.

“I think this is a great opportunity to make a more positive connection rather than just a cheque in the mail.”

Nundle Business Tourism and Marketing Group president Megan Trousdale said surrounding towns and villages, which tended to also attract tourists from these drawcard events, could also share their experiences.

“I think if they can, people should get out of the city and come to country areas and see what it means for rural areas to be in drought – and perhaps the impacts on you further down the food pipeline.”

‘Real eye-opener’

Councillor Russell Webb said events such as the concert were “a great opportunity [and] a real eye-opener”.

“If we can, in any way, get people to come from the metropolitan areas into the country areas, have a look around, get a feel for what’s actually happening, and spend some of their hard-earned dollars supporting small business in our regions ... that is just an absolute positive,” Cr Webb said.

“When people come out here and actually see what the communities in regional NSW are dealing with on a daily basis, the challenges they face every morning … that just lets people know how agriculture is at the moment.

“Australian farmers are regarded as the best in the world, an they still are, but it’s the vagaries of drought that have caused the situation they’re in.

“Many have planned for a drought, but you can’t plan for such long periods of drought.”

Hay Mate

The Hay Mate concert will be held on October 27 at Scully Park in Tamworth.

Farnham, Guy Sebastian and Adam Harvey have locked in to perform, and there are unconfirmed reports that another hugely successful Australian artist will join the line-up.

Mrs Trousdale, who also owns Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores, said “anything that brings people to our region has the potential to help the smaller town like Nundle”.

“I know from AgQuip, for example, the spin-off ... is we have visitors who might go there for one day and they want to see the region at the same time, so they will make a special trip to Nundle to drop into into the woollen mill or call into our shops,” she said.

“They keep a mental file of what is in our region, and then when they get a chance or an excuse like AgQuip or a big concert, they make sure they check it off their list.”

Cr Murray said it was “a great opportunity to see some serious entertainers coming to our city, rather than us having to go to Sydney or Brisbane or wherever they’re on”.

Cr Webb said it would also “provide some wonderful entertainment for our local people within the North West and the New England if they choose to come to it, and give them a break from their daily routine that they’re locked into because of the drought”.