People who are tired of being locked up in the big smoke due to COVID-19 are being asked by one farmer’s wife to listen to the call of the wild and go bush.
As travel restrictions ease throughout Australia, Grace Brennan is appealing to corporations to consider their staff and send them on a bush getaway.
Grace was behind the #buyfromthebush campaign in the lead-up to Christmas, which was geared to encourage Australians living in cities to support rural businesses in drought-affect regions.
Three weeks after it launched, the campaign had 80,000 Instagram followers and breathed life into countless struggling businesses.
From her farm, located 70km from the western NSW town of Warren, the mother of three has this week launched an online directory of Australia’s best bush stays with the hashtag #stayinthebush.
The website offers accommodation options for everyone who is planning a bush escape, including a riverside fishing cottage in Victoria, architecturally designed apartments in the snow country, a luxury outback station in western Queensland, a converted wool shed in Cowra, and a stunning three-bedroom converted granary in Tasmania.
Grace says rural tourism providers currently face a unique opportunity to capture new tourist markets, and the benefits to local communities recovering from drought, bushfires and COVID-19 lockdown could be significant.
“#stayinthebush offers enormous potential for rural tourism providers and could lead to significant income generation, job creation and greater opportunity for diversification in small, isolated communities,” she explains.
“By staying in the bush, people are directly investing in local economies that have endured a very tough few years.”
There is a huge appetite among people in the city to feel connected to rural communities, says Grace.
“We know the bush has a lot to offer,” she says. “Our new website makes it a little bit easier for people in the city to discover that.”
If you are seeking cheesy holiday snaps and ticking monuments and museums off your travel bucket list, Grace says her site probably isn’t for you.
“We want to inspire people to wander off the beaten track, stay a while and connect with the true spirit of Australia,” she says.
“Now, more than ever, rural communities invite you to stay with them, taste their food, buy their art, wander their streets, fish their rivers, take in the open sky, and have a yarn by an open fire. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the peace, the space, the characters.”
Taking it up a notch, Grace is also calling on Australian employers to consider giving staff some #bushleave and sending them on a #bushtreasurehunt to bring back something made in the bush.
“If they share their adventures on social media and tag us, we will give them a shout out,” she says. “It would be a very practical way for corporate Australia to support small business in regional Australia during this tough time.”
If people can’t take time off, Grace suggests they work remotely, with offerings such as The Exchange in Dubbo or The Hive in Orange, just a few hours north of Canberra, which offer stunning co-working spaces to rival any city office.
The social media accounts of #stayinthebush are growing by more than 100 followers a day.
“We are hearing from featured businesses that they are increasing their social following by 100-500 following posts on our page and receiving multiple bookings directly as a result,” says Grace.
“We are also hearing from lots of keen travellers asking for suggestions on places to stay when they hit the road. There is a feeling we are on the cusp of a very special time for rural Australia.”
- Eliza Lee One – boutique apartment, Jindabyne
- Faraway Domes – glamping in a dome, Warialda
- The Shearing Shed – converted shearing shed, Cowra
- The Mountain Den – stylish cottage in Grampians
- Cortes Kiln & Cottage – converted tobacco kiln, Gapsted
- Upalinna Station – outback station, Flinders Rangers
- Nightfall camp – Lamington