Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today’s newsletter is written by ACM digital news editor Janine Graham.
Australians, we like getting about. We like to see ourselves as global adventurers. Now’s the time to clip our own wings.
Let’s stick closer to home. Well, within our own borders perhaps.
Many fire-hit regions double as tourist meccas – East Gippsland, the NSW South Coast, Kangaroo Island, the Southern Highlands for starts – and the economic impact of the devastation is as significant as the social cost.
Our generosity in the immediate aftermath of the bushfire crisis was evident – money, donations of goods and services came thick and fast.
Peter Lynch, writing for Explore, the new home of travel on ACM websites, has a simple message: Give the bush a break.
“The past few weeks have seen an extraordinary outpouring of goodwill. Enormous sums have been raised for our brave volunteer firefighters who have fought valiantly to save our country towns and villages.
“Now, there is another job to do. Save the businesses on whose survival so many depend.
“It’s down to us because persuading our foreign friends to come back is a much longer task. And these folk can’t wait. They are our neighbours, so a short-drive holiday or even longer stay is easy for us to do.
“It won’t be too onerous, either. Rural and regional Australians are a welcoming bunch. And despite the impression given by the weeks of news reporting, huge swathes of our beautiful countryside are still pristine and perfect.
“While you are there, enjoy the fabulous food, wine and artisan products that are on sale.
“Bring them home with pride and serve them to your friends. Then tell them to go and do the same.”
Maybe a full-on holiday is out of the question, so why not scale it back and just opt for the “empty esky” alternative?
This social media campaign might be the nudge you need to grab an empty esky, hit the road and spend up in a regional area to help its local businesses get back on their feet.
Just as that campaign took itself to the big smoke, High Country Comeback will head to Port Melbourne this weekend to inject some life and awareness into dozens of stricken regional businesses from Victoria’s High Country.
Employing a deal of common sense is wise. Parts of the nation are still under fire threat while elsewhere the threat is terrifyingly invisible.
But the message remains the same: give the bush a break.