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BLUEPRINT FOR ISLAND TOURISM

CLUB MACLEAY ‘MAY ON MACLEAY’ BOWLS SUCCESS A BLUEPRINT FOR ISLAND TOURISM DEVELOPMENT Club Macleay recently held a hugely successful May on Macleay lawn bowls event. So much so, that it attracted more than a 100 elite bowlers to Macleay Island over a weekend that was very hard to surpass. Not only was the weather ‘perfect’ after weeks of solid rain and storms, but the legacy from the event has become long-lasting. The elite bowlers were here for almost three days. They played their bowls and were subject to a well-planned program that saw them entertained and fed to the highest possible standards. The event was also attended by world bowls champion and triple Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, Jo Edwards from New Zealand. All of this combined to provide the best possible outcomes for the club and the islands. It was literally a ‘blueprint’ for a future tourism direction that deserves to be explored. It was a triumph for Club Macleay chairman Barry Dench and club manager Julie Brooks as well as the club caterers and staff. Bringing large groups of sports people to our islands to enjoy our unique islands is the quickest way to grow a ‘tourism industry’. The Southern Bay Islands are not like our near neighbours Coochiemudlo and North Stradbroke Islands. They have natural attractions (beaches) which attract huge annual visitation. The SMB Islands do not. There are natural attractions that are unique and beautiful, but they are not universally known or promoted. They include the brilliant waterways and vistas around these islands in between Straddie and the mainland. And efforts are continuing to establish unique Botanical Gardens located on Russell Island and these will one day add to the attraction of the island group. In the meantime, we can use the sporting facilities that we have that are somewhat taken for granted by islanders, but are unique to many on the mainland. World Champion and multiple Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Jo Edwards summed it up when she recently visited Macleay Island as a guest for the inaugural May on Macleay lawn bowls event. In an interview with the Friendly Bay Islander she told us: “This feels a million miles from everywhere. “What’s not to love; check out that view,” Jo said from the observation deck overlooking the green. “It would have to be in the top two bowls locations anywhere I have played.” And we can expect to see Jo Edwards back to actually play on our island greens. “I will definitely be coming back!” she added. Jo isn’t the only one. Nearly every bowler who attended the May Bowl, were stunned by the unique green setting at Club Macleay, and they echoed Jo’s words and sentiments. Not only are the views unique, but many visitors find the passenger ferry journey to our islands ‘unique and enjoyable’. The interest and the outcome can be applied to many island sports and activities, including both bowls clubs, the Bay Islands Golf Club, as well as island fishing and boating events. To put it simply: we are better than we think we are! Let’s learn from recent events and encourage groups and others to visit our islands. Who knows, we may even see improved visitor accomodation in the not too distant future to handle the demand!

• Our front cover photo at the May on Macleay