Why Collie? While I like to think that Collie is the centre of the universe, and that everyone should visit, I occasionally take stock and do a reality check.
I peer at the Google map of Collie and gradually zoom out, picking up other towns around us… then further afield, bringing in Busselton, Margaret River, Albany and Esperance. Zoom out further and we pick up Perth, Geraldton, Wongan Hills. Hundreds of towns and cities. All with their hands in the air shouting look at me! Until we moved here, we just saw Collie as a little support town for the mines and power stations. The only shops we saw were the ones on Throssell Street, and they weren’t anything to boast about, from memory ten to fifteen years ago, in my opinion.
Once we moved down here, we had a chance to see the shopping precinct on Forrest Street, the developments around town, the beautiful natural attractions around Collie and not too far from the centre. The abundance of events and activities just adds to the beauty of Collie.
In March 2015, before we took over the park, we came down from Perth for a workshop in the shire offices, on how Collie could work together with the other towns in what we now call Bunbury Geographe. One of the names thrown around in our group for this initiative was “Valleys of Secrets” to reflect the Valleys of Collie and Ferguson having so many unfound secrets. The Marketing group decided that they would later change the byline on the visitors guides to “Secrets no more”. But we are still getting the comments, “We didn’t know all this was here!”, so it is still a secret.
The #whyivisitCollie page are doing a great job promoting Collie and the surrounds on social media, but what about the generation driving down Forrest or Coalfields Highway. What can we do to include Collie in their destination of choice or last minute change of plan. We know from experience that timetables are very flexible, when they drop back in the office, after checking in for one night and booking two or even a week.
So how do we change this perception? How do we get everyone to know that Collie has so much potential and worth adding to the repeat visit list? Would Collie Community Radio explore the options of incorporating some of the elements of Tourist Radio to capture the passing caravanner? We have their attention as they come up the hill and pass through Collie. Tell them about Collie or watch them drive through town. What else can we do?