2013 Inland NSW Tourism Awards

7am on Saturday July 27 on a cold and frosty morning Tilma chicks Linda and Lisa, along with Junee Rhythm n Rail Chair Neil Smith, commence their eight-hour road trip to Moree, for the 2013 Inland NSW Tourism Awards ceremony.

After a brief stop at Wyalong we continue on to Dubbo, where we stop for award winning pies and coffee at the Village Bakery (we highly recommend vegetable mornay and pepper steak pies!) . Linda reminisced about her childhood in Dubbo, with baton twirling and netball high on the agenda (yes, that’s right, we said baton twirling).

Heading out of Dubbo we came across a bizarre site not far from the CBD….Mary had a little lamb….there she was, Mary! Where else would you find a lovely lady walking three dogs and 2 sheep? Central down town Dubvegas!  After a quick photo opp and chat with the lady we head out of Dubbo…

Only 4.5 hours to go….the countdown is on….

The vibe is getting exciting as we continue on with a few random photo opportunities to break up the drive.

The solar system drive proves an intriguing opportunity for photos….it is described as the worlds largest virtual solar system drive (www.solarsystemdrive.com)

Driving Driving Driving….

We made it….artesian water country…Welcome to Moree Plains!

First stop was Target and bottleshop, where the girls grabbed an urgent pair of stockings and some local beverages to assist with the preparations for the evening.

We arrive at the Moree Artesian Spa Motel where the fun begins…

Neil takes the opportunity to enjoy the artesian waters where he meets the competition (Boggabri Drovers Run), and in hindsight Neil jokingly commented that ‘I should have drowned them!’. In the meantime Linda and Lisa quickly transform their motel room into a scene out of the vogue fashion shoot with dresses, fascinators, make up, shoes and bling splashed all over the room, as they decide on their 1920’s outfits. Yes we know, should have decided much sooner than this!

5pm pre departure drinks in room 19, where Linda and Lisa are still frantically deciding on the final touches….Neil patiently offers some fashion advice and enjoys his cold beverage…thanks Neil!

At 5.30pm we step into a scene from the Great Gatsby as we wait for the courtesy bus…there were feathers, fascinators, violin cases, fur, fashion and frolicking….wow!

We arrive at Moree Memorial Hall, where we felt like superstars….vintage cars, blue carpet, lights and cameras….ahhh, the life of a celebrity!

So far Moree is certainly making an impression….

Inside the hall we enjoy champagne on entry, local produce, and more exciting 1920’s fashion to admire….chat chat gossip gossip….too many people to catch up with and not enough time….

Before we know it we are ushered into the hall for the start of the official ceremony….table eleven is the place to be! Junee Rhythm n Rail Festival, Deniliquin Blues & Roots Festival, Tilma Group, and a few judges including Petrina Walker and Jane Barnes!

The hall was filled with excitement and chatter of approximately 210 regional tourism identities….the table settings were glamorous and the vibe was exhilarating!

MC Murray Hartin (National renowned bush poet who wrote the famous poem, Turbulence) commenced proceedings and incorporated some great humour and fun into the formalities.

The Mayor of Moree Katrina Humphries welcomed everyone to Moree Plains. Her enthusiasm and passion for tourism and development in Moree and the region is commended…no wonder Moree is doing great things, with an enthusiastic leader like Katrina.

The drinks (including the Bacardi in hip flasks – not mentioning any names, Griffith) and food flowed all evening as we applauded and celebrated the pinnacle of regional tourism.  This was interspersed with 1920’s style entertainment by local band ‘The Moochers’, and much more chat chat chatter.

Tourist Attractions – Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

Festivals and Events – Deni Blues & Roots Festival

Heritage & Cultural Tourism – Nundle Woolen Mill

Indigenous Tourism – Tri State Safaris, Broken Hill

Specialised Tourism – Fairview Artspace, Mudgee

Visitor Information Cervices – Moree Plains Visitor Information Centre (Silver award to Leeton Visitor Information Centre)

Tour and/or Transport Operators – Tri State Safaris

Adventure Tourism – Green Gully Track (Silver award to Canowindra Ballooning)

Destination Marketing – Broken Hill City Council

Tourism Restaurants & Catering Services – Dag Sheep Station, Nundle

Tourism Wineries, Distilleries & Breweries – Lowe Wines, Mudgee

Tourist & Caravan Parks – Willowbend Caravan Park

Hosted Accommodation – Eldee Station, Broken Hill

Standard Accommodation – The Lodge Outback Motel, Broken Hill

Unique Accommodation – Dag Sheep Station, Nundle

New Tourism Development – Gold Trails

Local Government Award for Tourism – Parkes Shire Council

Community Festivals & Events – Boggabri Drivers Picnic

Tourist Pubs – Gol Gol Hotel

Digital Presence – The Bruce Langford Centre, Broken Hill

Ted Wilson Award – Michael McCulkin

Hall of Fame – Deniliquin Ute Muster

The speech of the night goes to Harold (Chairman, Denilquin Ute Muster):

‘The Deni Ute Muster has galvanized the region in a way that no one could have ever imagined’.

‘We are proudly regional, iconically Australia and we have the greatest anywhere….great people and great hospitality!’.

The formalities closed as the 2014 host town was announced – well done to Riverina’s own GRIFFITH. Tilma for one is excited that in 2014 the roadtrip will only be 4 hours, as compared to 16!!! Congratulations Griffith, we know you will do a great job in 2014.

Now the fun begins….as the early birds depart on the first bus home the party animals stay on for some dancing, beverages and chatter.  As expected the Tilma team (with side kick Neil S) depart on the early bird bus for a much needed sleep…..

JUST KIDDING!!!!!

Ok so maybe not the early bus, but we did behave (despite some trying to take us down, not mentioning any names Brent Lawrence and David Moretti!)….what do they say about ‘letting your hair down’?

Without going into great detail, the night was fun and the bus trip home was loud, with the party continuing at the Moree Artesian Spa Motel (room 36)….who invited that David Moretti?!

Lisa and Linda walk into room 19 at 1am and realized that the departure for the bus was quick…there was clothing, make up, empty beer bottles, hair straighteners, shoes and more clothing sprawled all over the room.

So, the pillows were not that comfortable and the dripping shower was a tad frustrating, but the beverages ensured we had a sound sleep…

The morning after...despite all intentions of an early morning artisian spa Neil wakes the girls with a text message ‘ready when you are’… arghhhhh! Thanks to the Omega Café in Moree we leave Moree feeling content and full of bacon and eggs and coffee. 

NOOOOOOO….8 hours on the road again, but this time not quite as much enthusiasm….ok so we did not bring home the gold for Junee Rhythm n Rail Festival, but we had fun trying!

With plenty of photo opps and coffee the trip was not too bad after all. We even dumped into some local peeps en route…a shout out to our buddy Petrina Walker for joining us in our dinosaur photo shoot.

A special mention to Tilma winners Deniliquin Blues & Roots Festival, who took out the Festival & Events category over the long established Tamworth Country Music Festival. This is an exciting achievement for the inaugural event and Tilma is extremely proud to be part of it. Well done Deni!

Now for a few thank you notes:

-          A massive shout out to Rose Organ at Riverina Millinery Association (RMA) who made Lisa and Linda their awesome headpieces.

-          Tourism Moree

-          Countrylink

-          INTA board

-          Ralph and Dana Tambasco – team Rhythm n Rail Festival

-          Neil Smith (our road trip partner!)

-          Tilma team mate Carly Semmler, for the 1920’s fashion