Abo­rig­i­nal tourism boost

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - MANDY SQUIRES

TOURISTS and lo­cals will be en­cour­aged to ex­plore the rich Abo­rig­i­nal his­tory of the You Yangs and Great South Coast, un­der a new State Gov­ern­ment cul­tural tourism plan.

An­nounc­ing the strat­egy in Port­land yes­ter­day, Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Jaala Pul­ford said the project would fo­cus on Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture and tourism in the You Yangs and Great Ocean Road re­gion.

It would be led by Great Ocean Road Re­gional Tourism and was backed by a $225,000 State Gov­ern­ment grant.

The tourism strat­egy aimed to in­crease un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the 60,000 years of Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture in the re­gion, as vis­i­tors trav­elled through places such as the You Yangs, Cape Ot­way, Moyjil, Tower Hill and Budj Bim, Ms Pul­ford said.

“We’re col­lab­o­rat­ing with Abo­rig­i­nal groups, Great Ocean Road Re­gional Tourism, and lo­cal gov­ern­ments to grow tourism and jobs in the Great South Coast re­gion, while pre­serv­ing and cel­e­brat­ing its proud in­dige­nous his­tory,” she added.

Tourism and Ma­jor Events Min­is­ter and Lara MP, John Eren, said vis­i­tors to the re­gion were in­creas­ingly keen to learn about Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tures.

“There are op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand the tourism ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer — and we’re ready to do just that,” Mr Eren said. ART and mu­sic com­bines this week­end with the re­turn of the Bir­re­gurra Fes­ti­val in the town’s Main St.

Fes­tiv­i­ties of­fi­cially be­gan last night with the art show launch in the Main Street Hall, an ex­hibit that at­tracts artists from across Vic­to­ria.

Ac­tiv­i­ties for to­day and to­mor­row in­clude mu­sic per­for­mances from the likes of Reuben Stone, Kitt Watts, Resid­ual, Nigel Wearne, Tom West, The Ac­fields, and the Mik Maks.

Chil­dren can en­joy the Back Pad­dock play area fea­tur­ing a pet­ting zoo, rides and kid’s en­ter­tain­ment.

The dog jump com­pe­ti­tion will prove to be a tight con­test this year and not to be missed.

Fes­ti­val-go­ers can de­light in a culi­nary treat, in­dulging in the best of the west­ern dis­trict and dis­cov­er­ing the re­gion’s best lo­cal pro­duce in the Food & Wine Precinct, filled with lo­cal good­ies and food vans.

En­try to the fes­ti­val costs a gold coin do­na­tion.

Min­is­ter for Abo­rig­i­nal Af­fairs, Na­talie Hutchins, also praised the plan.

“The knowl­edge of coun­try passed down through thou­sands of gen­er­a­tions of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple has the po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute enor­mously to the preser­va­tion of this amaz­ing nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, as well as build­ing a sus­tain­able eco­nomic fu­ture for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple,” Ms Hutchins said.

The project brings to­gether tra­di­tional own­ers, the six lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas on the Great Ocean Road, Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Vic­to­ria and Parks Vic­to­ria to iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­hance ex­ist­ing Abo­rig­i­nal tourism ex­pe­ri­ences and find new ways of en­gag­ing tourists in lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal his­tory.

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