Story & photo Eve Jeffery
Member for Ballina Don Page is addressing a tourism industry forum today at the Byron Community Centre.
He will present several regional tourism operators with a total of $250,000 funding via a competitive application process co-ordinated by regional tourism authority Northern Rivers Tourism.
One business that will benefit from today’s announcement will be Byron Bay Farmstay.
With their $13,000 Northern Rivers Tourism grant, they will create a single-track mountain-bike trail in a forest grove on their land, turning what is now just accommodation into a tourist attraction.
Owners Ivan Holland and Angela Grice say that the funding will help add that something extra to what they already have to offer.
Ivan says that in such a tourist-centric area, there are opportunities to be found in unexpected places. ‘The bike track will complement the current business but will also be a standalone attraction,’ says Ivan.
‘This is another great activity for people to do as part of the farmstay, and for us it’s getting into something totally new.
Changed the face of farming
‘On a broader level, it’s us getting creative about how to make a living from the farm knowing that kicking back and just letting the cows run around, eventually, is not going to work. My folks got creative 16 years ago and went for some farm accommodation; Ange and I are just going to continue the process.’
Other funds granted by the scheme include nearly $29,000 to upgrade conference facilities at the Byron Community Centre, nearly $36,000 for Byron Kombi Orientation Tours, more than $10,000 to develop and map Aboriginal cultural tours, more than $35,000 for a new airport shuttle to operate between Casino and Lismore, $40,000 for Coastal Indigenous Cultural Experiences on the Tweed Coast, $36,000 for new Eco Cruises and Kayaking Tours in Brunswick Heads, $25,000 for the development of up to three tourism packages in the Northern Rivers and $25,000 to develop new themed trails and itineraries.
Ivan and Angela plan on having their new venture up and running by the end of the year and are looking forward to expanding their business.
Ivan says that having a property like his in a tourist area has changed the face of farming.
‘I think farmers who have been ready to embrace it have really benefited from tourism.
‘You just have to think outside the box’.
Image: Ivan and Angela are ready to roll with a new mountain bike track planned to enhance their farmstay business.