Growing Pastoral Tourism - an ABC Country Hour Story

ABC Country Hour Story

By Caddie Brain

When tourists get a chance to stay on a cattle station, you'll often hear them remark that it's great to see the 'real Australia'.

Bit by bit more stations are developing sideline pastoral tourism businesses.

But it can be tough for managers in remote areas to market their operations and attract visitors.

A group of stations in the north of South Australia decided to link together, share ideas, and develop a joint-website.

Jeanette Wormald from Desert Knowledge Australia's Outback Business Networks says it's all about sharing resources.

"Station Stays is a group, or what we call a 'business cluster'.

"They got together in 2009 and started talking about how they could build their individual capacity to get into pastoral tourism.

"But can you imagine being a remote station manager wanting to get into tourism: where do you start?

"How do you market yourself? Can you afford a website?

"They decided they couldn't do it alone.

"They thought, if we get together and see ourselves as a community of people rather than competitors - we could share our marketing costs, we could put a website up together than promotes our individual stations, pool our resources and get some professional development happening too."

Ms Wormald say apart from a website, the Station Stays network has also developed an A3 map available at roadhouses and tourist information centres that recommends travel routes between stations.

"These are just flying out the door."

They're also funding a representative from the network to attend national trade shows to promote each other.

And Ms Wormald says it's working.

"They're seeing more hits of their website, more international visitors, and they've started to notice that people who have stayed at one station are actually then going on to stay at another station.

"So they're creating their own destination.

"You can't buy that."

Due to its initial success, Ms Wormald says they're now looking to develop a national discussion group.

"In Western Australia a cluster's just starting and we've started to bring people in from New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

"Even if it doesn't become a national cluster group, just talking at a national level means sharing information and that sense of community."