Bid to harvest highway tourism

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Bridgetown-Greenbushes shire president Tony Pratico.
Camera IconBridgetown-Greenbushes shire president Tony Pratico. Credit: Danella Bevis

An old concept marketing quality produce to travelling tourists on South Western Highway is growing in popularity again.

Harvest Highway was conceived in 2002 as a marketing initiative to divert tourists travelling along the highway to stop at the many businesses offering high quality, paddock-to-plate-style produce.

It was touted as a unique way to promote the towns and businesses on and near the highway from Byford to Walpole, covering nearly 400km. Sadly, after State Government funding quickly dried up, so too did the project.

But the concept has been given a new lease on life with the Warren Blackwood Alliance of Councils at the wheel.

Alliance chairman, dairy farmer and Bridgetown-Greenbushes shire president Tony Pratico said the concept had never been fully utilised but the region had plenty to offer as a tourist experience and destination.

“Traffic is what we are all trying to market into to reach our tourist population. We see that we’ve got a lot to offer,” Cr Pratico said.

“The whole world seems to know the coastal strip to Margaret River, we’re not saying we want to be in competition with Margaret River, but we want to say here’s another option. They can experience Margaret River and then travel back on the inland route.”

The concept would cover towns along the highway such as Bridgetown, Greenbushes, Nannup, Manjimup, Donnybrook and Balingup.

Cr Pratico said there were already individual businesses in the region promoting themselves as a collective tourist experience.

Taste Blackwood was conceived three years ago by a range of like-minded primary and secondary producers from Bridgetown, Balingup and Nannup, promoting about 10 individual businesses in one tourist route.

The Cidery and Blackwood Valley Brewing Company in Bridgetown are one of the many businesses included in the initiative.

Business partner John Lucey said each individual business had its own name, but by working collaboratively they had been able to tap into broader tourist markets, including reaching Perth markets.

“Harvest Highway is trying to create a route that people from Perth can follow throughout the South West and have the opportunity to visit businesses that have similar values and visitor experiences,” Mr Lucey said.

Mr Pratico said the concept would work on similar terms as the Taste Blackwood initiative, in order to market the region as a destination.

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