Robyn Maher is tireless in her efforts to promote Australia’s North West. I should know. I’m one of the lucky people to whom she sings the praises of the region.
Where the heck is Australia’s North West?
Australia’s North West is one of five regions that makes up the state of Western Australia. The other four regions are Australia’s South West, Australia’s Coral Coast, Australia’s Golden Outback, and Experience Perth.
The North West includes the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. The North West covers an enormous tract of land, including the city of Broome, known as the southern gateway to the Kimberley. It goes as far north as Kununurra, a city 515 miles (831 km) south of the Northern Territories main city of Darwin.
I’ll take Broome.
Of course, with me, she’s singing to the choir when she talks up the North West. If I could move to Broome – Robyn’s hometown – I would. Broome is a gem. I know that’s a word that is often over-used (see Peter Greenberg’s Hidden Gems column!) but Broome is a town that delights the senses. The light is gorgeous – and that’s coming from a diehard Angeleno. The contrast of water and dirt – aqua blue and rust red colors are brilliant. Broome was the backdrop for Baz Luhrmann’s operatic film Australia. And Luhrmann fails to capture the true quaintness and appeal of the city.
I’ve written about Australia’s North West and have relied heavily on Maher. She supplies photos, facts, and interviews with key individuals like Marilynne Paspaley, one of the heirs to the Paspaley pearl fortune and a travel entrepreneur in her own right.
Maher is key to promoting a destination that is far away from everything else. It’s hard to reach, often expensive to get there, and not always convenient in terms of flight connections. It takes five hours to get there from Sydney. The most easily accessible country from the area is Bali – a cheap alternative for Australians and those visitors passing through the area to bypass North West Australia altogether.
They’ll be back.
Although Maher has lived in Broome for 21 years, she’s been working for the regional, non-profit, member-based group for the past 10 years. She partners closely with government tourism agencies like Tourism Australia and Tourism Western Australia to increase visitors to the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.
Promoting awareness through travel agents and journalists has been effective. “Once they visit, they come back,” said Maher.
And if they don’t come back personally, they tell everyone about it. This year, the Kimberley region was awarded TripAdvisor’s 2013 Destination on the Rise South Pacific and the “Best in Travel Top Ten Regions” by the Lonely Planet 2014 Awards.
“We are the only Australian region on the Lonely Planet list,” said Maher. The Kimberley ranks #2.
I want to go back. Like I said…offer me a job in Broome, and I’d be hard pressed to turn it down. The magic of the place is up there with only a few other destinations on the planet.