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Why the Canberra region is Australia’s best kept secret

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Where else could you start the day walking on a pristine beach in the morning and be skiing down the slopes in the afternoon?

Or where else could you catch an international blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in the morning, before taking a wine tasting tour in the afternoon?

I often hear people talk about Canberra having the “best of all worlds” – city, coast and country, alpine and tablelands – all within a few hours. And after attending the recent launch of the Canberra regional website – www.canberraregion.com.au – I couldn’t agree more.

From Goulburn in the north to the Snowy Mountains in the south, and from the beaches along the east coast to the hilltops in the west, our region’s combined population is more than 620,000, and we contribute a massive $46 billion to the national economy.

Taste Riverina_2017_feature

I was so impressed with the diversity of businesses on display at the launch. There was food and wine from Robyn Rowe Chocolates, Poachers Pantry, Helm Wines and Wild Brumby Distillery. There were soft throw rugs and cuddly toys from Irresistibly Alpaca, socks from Lindner Socks and fresh eggs from Bum Nuts.

Helm Winery

Helm Winery

Speaking at the launch, Member for Monaro John Barilaro, talked about a region rich in “experiences, food, wine, wool, history and heritage, natural beauty and amazing people”.

While most of us in the region live in a city, we have a large agricultural landscape – including 2.5 million hectares of farmland – at our doorstep that “produces some of the world’s finest wool, seafood, wine, stone fruit and beef,”  said John.

Also speaking at the launch was Chief Minister Andrew Barr who was able to point to the fact that Canberra has been named one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2018, thanks in part to our proximity to the mountains, the coast and the nearby wine region.

The South Coast. Image: James Blakeney

The South Coast. Image: James Blakeney

Some of that produce is now being exported direct to Singapore, as direct flights now regularly leave Canberra International Airport. Precious cargo from Pialligo Estate, Fedra Olive Oil, Helm Wines, Ravensworth Wines, Nick Spencer Wines, Lark Hill, Mada Wines and Nick O’Leary Wines were the first to take off in September.

Robyn Rowe Chocolates. Via Facebook

Robyn Rowe Chocolates. Via Facebook

Also in September, forums across the region brought together farmers and local agribusiness owners to explore how we could take advantage of the “Asian dining boom”.

Discussions are underway to develop Canberra as a regional export centre, operating from within the Canberra International Airport precinct, which would provide direct access to international markets like China.

The ACT Government is one of the drivers behind these efforts. As Cheif Minister Barr explained, “promoting the wider Canberra region is a key priority of the ACT Government, so it’s great to be part of this ongoing effort to highlight everything the region has to offer.”

vineyard feature

I think this marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Canberra. Access to international markets will drive growth, opportunities and innovation across our region – and it has the potential to bring larger numbers of tourists to what is arguably Australia’s best-kept secret.

Feature image: Stephen Byron, John Barilaro, Patrick Davis (Demondrille Merino Stud in Murrumburrah), Andrew Barr. Photo: Catherine Carter. 

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