When your farm is already a dream destination, why not share it?
For those unfamiliar with the concept of agritourism, it can be surprising to learn that some tourists have a genuine interest in experiencing farm life in rural communities and landscapes. With a wealth of producers looking to value add to existing operations, Destination Riverland and RDA Murraylands and Riverland partnered to bring experts in to inspire and educate on the how, what and why of agritourism.
For Craig McClory and Andrea Chick, being a tourist in their own town was a solid training ground for the accommodation veterans turned olive entrepreneurs.
“We are looking at creating a luxury farmstay experience on our property,” says Andrea, during a routine drive between their farm and packing facility in Keith.
Having worked since 2006 to build their sustainable olive business, Andrea and Craig went along to the event at the Loxton Research Centre with no real expectations. It was the networking opportunity that surprised them the most.
“Meeting optimistic people in the area who are interested in similar ventures was the real takeaway for us,” says Andrea.
“What was interesting is that agritourism has come a long way,” Craig adds, “because people are a lot more interested in where their food comes from.”
The pair first discovered their Toolunka Creek property while holidaying on a houseboat in the Riverland. Andrea’s passion for the local environment has led to significant conservation efforts on the property in the decade since.
“The work that goes into the property tells its own story. So it makes sense to offer farm experiences and a wildlife tour at the creek,” Andrea continues, “allowing us to focus more on what we do, and what we think our strengths are.”
The pair is exploring what form their new venture will take, and the possibilities are endless – river activities, local wildlife and sustainable practices are proving popular among agritourists.
They hope that the local community embraces agritourism with the same enthusiasm that came through at the event.
As Craig points out, “there’s not much use being the only one around. For a regional tourism business to thrive, there have to be others in the area offering something too. People in the area are slowly learning that tours, accommodation, restaurants… they all go hand in hand.”