Home' micenet eMag : micenet October 2018 Contents T
he agenda for the 3rd annual NSW
Regional Events Conference, for
the first time held in Port
Macquarie, should have carried
a tagline along the lines of “refreshingly
Speaker after speaker told their stories on
a range of subjects with incredible honesty
and openness that left this city slicker
wondering whether the bottled water
handed out to attendees contained some
After two days spent in the company of
folks from regional areas it’s fair to say that
this is how things are done away from the
It was enjoyable to listen to stories from
speakers and delegates who, in many
instances, had taken the bull by the horns and
created a business or an event out of nothing.
There was, for example, Ruth and Gary
Crowley from the small town of Trundle
(population 600), about 45 minutes west of
Parkes, who were driving home from the Elvis
Festival a few years ago and wondered what
they could do in their town. They came up
with the idea for an ABBA festival which now
sees upward of 4000 people attend.
There was the founder of Dubbo-based 123 Tix, Terry Wilcher, who thought that he could
provide better ticketing services to regional event organisers so he started doing it from his
Dubbo base and now has a legion of clients who swear by what he’s doing.
There was the Byron Bay entrepreneur Cameron Arnold who worked in travel for many years
before deciding to establish a glamping business that now provides alternative accommodation
at festivals and events around the country.
Even council representatives like GM Craig Swift-McNair from Port Macquarie Hastings
Council, Cathy Treasure from Parkes Elvis Festival (Parkes Shires Council), and Hannah Welch
from Bathurst Regional Council (talking about the Bathurst Winter Festival) were completely
open and honest about the pleasures and pitfalls of their various activities.
Topics ranged from ticketing at event, developing and delivering sponsorship programs,
targeting and attracting conferences and events to your town, and tips and tricks for
overcoming accommodation shortages when hosting events.
There were plenty of comments that were deemed “not for publication” which ensured that
discussion remained open, honest and, above all, helpful.
The presentation by Dark Mofo’s Leigh Carmichael, like the event itself, was also refreshing,
and a perfect example of how festivals can bring life to a destination.
Having worked at MONA in Tasmania for 14 years, Dark Mofo was conceived to bring more
people to the museum in what was traditionally a quiet period for Tasmania generally.
And, with close to 80,000 tickets sold to the festival in 2018, it appears as if the event is
MONA now has more than 400,000 visitors each year, with 70 per cent of those visitors
coming from interstate.
Leigh Carmichael’s take-home was that doing things outside the norm is challenging but
has its rewards.
He recalled when he discussed with MONA owner, David Walsh, about launching Dark Mofo,
Mr Walsh said: “Take the risk, just get it right.”
Also on the speakers’ list was Destination NSW’s Helen Parker who discussed the difference
While many people talk about doing things, it appears as if
those working outta town just do it, as Brad Foster discovered
at the NSW Regional Events Conference recently.
NSW REGIONAL EVENTS CONFERENCE
from Port Macquarie
44 | micenet
between business events and festival and events. She impressed on delegates that it wasn’t
just venues and hotels that benefited from business events, using herself as an example on this
conference where she had to purchase a new pair of shoes (after forgetting hers) and new
make-up (after hers spilled in her bag).
Ms Parker said business events were especially effective during quieter midweek periods.
She said regional operators should think about what makes their destination special; what
expertise do they have in their region?
Port Macquarie’s venue The Glasshouse, steeped in controversy when it was being
constructed, is one of the best event spaces you could find anywhere in regional NSW and
served this group well. Its upper mezzanine level is bathed in natural light and is a great location
for morning and afternoon tea breaks and lunches.
Not only does the beachside destination have some great hotel accommodation and good
air access, it is fast developing a reputation for great food and wine. The opening night’s
welcome event was held in the popular Bills Fishhouse and Restaurant where there was not
only great food, wine and local beers, but excellent service – something that is often lacking in
larger city venues.
The final night dinner had a different vibe in The Westport Club that was just a walk away
along the water for the majority of attendees.
The conference was rounded out by guest speaker Mick Collis who explained how he got to
represent his country at the World Sudoku Championships in India.
The NSW Regional Events Conference is a great meeting for attendees to not only be
inspired by those who speak on a range of topics but also for the networking opportunities and
very genuine discussions that take place.
Organised by King Events, it’s well worth attending. m
All images provided courtesy of Alicia Fox Photography.
All smiles and laughs
at the final night dinner.
Dark Mofo’s Leigh
delegate Robert Park
from Lithgow Council.
Welcome function at Bills
Fishhouse and Restaurant
in Port Macquarie.
Panellists discussing how to
shortages at regional events.
Welcome drinks and nibbles
at Bills Fishhouse and
Restaurant in Port Macquarie.
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