How Your Holiday Can Help Drought-Affected Farmers
Be it untouched camping spots or a yacht club in the outback, drought-affected farmers are giving you all the reasons to visit them on your weekend away.
Now, it may be time to pack up and take your support for the cause on the road. Farmers and their rural communities are tapping into the tourism market in a bid to keep their heads afloat while they struggle to keep farms economically viable.
In June, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud urged Australians to "get off your arse and get out there" in a call to get more people visiting remote communities to help generate an alternative income as the drought continues.
While the slogan may not stick, the idea at the heart of it is true and simple.
“Farmers are not able to generate income from stock and traditional sources at the moment and so more and more of them are turning to encouraging visitors to come and stay on their properties," Co-founder of Youcamp -- a land-sharing website for campers -- James Woodford told ten daily.
Forget The Hotel, Stay On A Farm
From the collection of listings in rural towns on short-term accommodation sites such as Airbnb and Stayz, to farm tours and experiences on drought-affected properties, farmers across all states are offering up more options than ever to get weekenders out their way.
Established in 2013, Woodford's site connects campers with areas on private properties across the country.
"It’s a win-win for both sides," Woodford said.
"The farmer gets extra income and the camper, the families or friends who want to go camping, they get access to great new spots that have previously been off limits."
After taking a survey of campers who use the website, Woodford said while the number one reason people chose to stay on farms was to escape the crowds, the distinct second reason was the experience of meeting a farmer.
"So often the traditional campground it’s like McCamping -- they’re all the same, you get exactly the same experience, whereas every single one of our properties offers a unique and authentic time away."
Woodford said extra income isn't the only benefit farmers experience when a group chooses to stay on their property, as the venture gives the next generation a potential new career path on the land and increases the connection of understanding between people from the city and the farming families who put food on their plate.
Prefer Hotels? That's Okay, Find An Event
The list of ways to holiday with the drought effort in mind is still a long one.
Fifth generation Longreach farmer James Walker learned hard and fast the importance of diversification on a farm after the drought hit his Queensland property, forcing him to cut down his livestock.
Winner of last year's Australian farmer of the year for excellence in diversification, Walker not only decided to rent out 40 hectares to a solar farm, but started the Outback Yacht Club to bring an entirely new demographic of tourists to the area.
"The people that generally visit regional Australia are, you know, the baby boomers who come out here in their caravans," Walker said.
Instead of encouraging the same stream of tourists to visit the area and subsequently spread their money out further, Walker and his brother created the "world's most unique yacht club."
With a calendar of competitive meets, social event and members from as far as Hong Kong, the initiative is a testament to the great wide range of things to see and do in rural Australia.
Walker said by giving people a reason to travel out to Longreach, the entire community benefited from their business as they stay, eat and shop in the local town. As for how making the trip compares to sending a donation, Walker says you can't beat the outback experience.
"It’s a life-long experience when you come out here, you’ll never forget the sunsets and just the peace and tranquility of the outback. It’s like nothing people experience in the city. You can’t see anything man-made, all you’re doing is sitting there and it’s just still and it’s just timeless."
"Get onto the tourism websites, look for an event that appeals to you and your interests and just book it."