20 December 2022

A million-dollar boost for canola tourism set to reap a golden harvest in the Riverina

| Chris Roe
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Gears and Beers

The 2022 Gears and Beers took riders through the fields. Photo: Josef Winkler.

This year’s bumper canola crop has seen the Riverina harvest more than grain and oil.

Following a surge in tourism in the ”Golden Triangle”, the Riverina’s Canola Trail has received a million-dollar boost to bring more sightseers to the region.

Australia produces 1.9 to 2.7 million tonnes of canola grain each year and the spectacular springtime bloom has proved an increasingly huge drawcard for tourism.

“Visitors come from far and wide to visit the simply breathtaking blankets of yellow canola,” said State Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke.

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The triangle includes Junee, Coolamon and Temora, and Junee Council has scored $1,075,000 from the NSW Government’s Regional Tourism Activation Fund to develop the initiative.

“To see our golden triangle receive this boost to further promote and enhance the experience for visitors to the region is just fantastic,” enthused Ms Cooke in making the announcement.

“This won’t only support Junee by increasing visitation, it will also boost the local economy and local jobs.”

canola field

Canola in bloom is attracting visitors from far and wide. Photo: Peter Reichstein.

Junee Mayor Neil Smith said it was another step forward for the region and explained that the money would go towards improving tourism infrastructure.

“It will address the increased popularity of the Bethungra Dam camping grounds, including accessible walking and bike trails and additional camping areas which have been on council’s collective mind for some time,” Mr Smith said.

“We look forward to the work commencing and are very proud of the alliance with our neighbouring councils. It shows that when we work together as a team, we can achieve great benefits for the region.”

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A new addition to the Riverina offering in 2022 was the opportunity to take to the skies in a hot-air balloon.

Paul Gibbs, the chief pilot for Goldrush Ballooning, said the airborne canola experience was an instant hit.

“It was a huge vote of support. People loved it!” he said.

“We actually had a lot of landowners come out for a fly and they were excited to be participating in something that’s new for the region.

“We had people from all over who just basically wanted to have a look at the region at a time of year when it’s just quite spectacular.”

hot-air balloon over canola field

Balloon flights offer a unique perspective on the Riverina in bloom. Photo: Goldrush Ballooning.

Paul sees huge growth potential and believes it could grow to become an international attraction.

“Getting people to the regions is an uphill battle, but the canola is just such a great phenomenon and a very attractive spectacle that people love to come and visit,” he said.

“The thing that’s evident to me is that there are nationalities visiting from overseas that simply don’t see anything like this in their country.

“It’s yet to be developed but I think there’s actually an opportunity to attract international tourists.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole agreed that backing unique and innovative tourism experiences was a great way to grow regional economies.

“We know regional NSW has Australia’s best tourist destinations and experiences,” he said.

”We want to amplify that by helping create new experiences and drawcards that put more heads on beds and attract more tourism dollars into regional communities.”

You can learn more about the Riverina’s Canola Trail here.

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