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5 December 2001

"The Shire of Dreams"

Australia's' Outback Frontier Adventure

Winner of the Black Opal Advovate's holiday at Paradise Isles is Zita's Videos. Accepting the prizewinning advertising bonus from "Clancy" Claus is Clair Haverhoek

As 2001 unwinds and we are about to focus upon the 2002 Year of the Outback Celebrations, residents of Walgett Shire will be called upon to contribute ideas which may establish 'the necessary elements to incorporate and project the image of the shire to its own citizens and the wider world'.

This proposal will prompt lively debate as constituents weigh up the alternatives against a name and image which has served the District for many years.

If the Council in its wisdom seeks to bond the known rivalry that has existed between towns as part of its overall concept, then it will be a positive move in the right direction. As a whole the Shire has so much to offer and effective marketing will peak its potential. An informal survey conducted on a social level amongst prominent locals produced some interesting comments.

These comments did not focus entirely upon opal!

The magnetism for this group was the opportunity to follow and fulfil a dream, their acceptance for whom they are, and the passion and excitement provided in an environment unlike most. Unanimously they agreed it was 'A Shire of Dreams'. What more can any Shire offer than an opportunity to dream and hope? It has been a Shire that has led the way in the path of reconciliation, as already harmony existed.

Our indigenous communities have many rich cultural sites to share along with their 'dreams' in this very unique 'Shire of Dreams'. Is it a name change that is required, if not is it agreed that a projection of the image will reap overall benefits to the broader Shire?

A new logo, a catchy slogan, a new masthead - what will lift the image of Walgett Shire? Most importantly our elected Councillors are reminded that they are representative of all the constituents of this vast Shire.

Achieving the best result will require delicate balancing and an acceptance that everyone matters. The dominance of factions will be counter productive and destroy the good intent initiated by Councillor Lanes' amended motion.

'What do you believe are the necessary elements to incorporate and project the image of the Shire to its own citizens and the wider world?'

The community was happy to comment!

A lifetime member of the community felt the Shire administration should be centrally located at Lightning Ridge. He also felt that Walgett received more benefits.

Keith, a Ridgeite of 11 years, felt opal needed better promotion - the bars should be removed from Walgett windows and replaced by greater police presence.
He wanted a 'face lift' for Collarenebri and a continued effort to see the Windlass erected at the entry to the Ridge.
He praised the efforts of Richard Mallouk and felt these amenities should be focal in any promotions.

Arthur thought things could be achieved if the Councillors were more in touch with the people. A greater awareness of Black Opal in Australia was his strongest point coupled with promoting where Lightning Ridge is. 'If Dubbo residents don't know much about the area what hope do we have? I'm told by a tourist who asked about Lightning Ridge at a Dubbo tourist attraction that he was advised not to go to Lightning Ridge as you may get mugged or raped.'

Noel said, 'I've been in Lightning Ridge for 10 years and I'd like to see a rail link from Sydney to Walgett and a coach service to Shire towns which would better link the city with the country'. 'We need to promote ourselves better locally; we need signage everywhere giving clear instructions on how to get to the Ridge and who we are, The Black Opal Capital of the World.' We need signage like the Dubbo Zoo , e.g., they are everywhere.'

Alfred Jo has spent his life in the Shire and is critical of the access roads around Colly and Lightning Ridge. 'If we don't know how to promote the Shire contact Tourist Assoiciations and Shires that have been successful in luring tourists for lesser reasons than being the Black Opal Capital of the world. He was adamant that loyality to locally owned businesses was vital to keep the dollars in town. 'Council money would be better spent on massive advertising packages and signage rather than creating a position to look at it and achieve very little.'

I've lived here for 56 years, said Ray, 'and watched the development and I think its time for a relocation of Walgett Shire Administration'. A bewildered tourist also pounded home the lack of adequate signage. 'Until you get to Walgett you really see little signage and when we got there the sign said, Angeldool'. 'Where the heck is Angeldool?'

'That sign is your worst enemy because tourists like us thought we were going the wrong way.' Food for thought, councillors!

If nothing else your constituents have valuable input to make and are keen to be heard.

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