Rawnsley Park’s eco-villa accommodation is a finalist in the Unique Accommodation and Ecotourism categories at the awards, on at the Adelaide Convention Centre this evening (Friday, April 10) at 7pm.
Owner Tony Smith, who runs Rawnsley Park Station with his wife, Julie, said they were excited to be part of the prestigious national awards, which recognise some of the best tourism products in Australia.
“We are hoping to win a category, but just to be recognised at this level is a great honour,” he said. “We are also the only tourism operator in SA to be a finalist in two categories and are delighted with that achievement.”
Speaking at a function held today (April 10) at the Adelaide Botanic Garden to celebrate Rawnsley’s involvement in the awards, Mr Smith outlined several new products and initiatives designed to boost the Flinders Ranges’ tourism appeal in 2015 and beyond.
“In July we will launch a one-day guided walk following the Heysen Trail through the centre of Wilpena Pound,” Mr Smith said. “It will include a picnic lunch in the Pound and transfers to and from the start of the walk.”
The ‘Wilpena Pound Day Walk’ will join Rawnsley Park’s popular ‘Flinders by Foot’ three and five-day guided walks, which are escorted by experienced bushwalking author and guide Kym Tilbrook.
“We believe a one-day walk will complement this offering and appeal to visitors with limited time,” Mr Smith said.
“It is long overdue that the Flinders Ranges developed some iconic walking experiences that can be offered as guided or self-guided options, and we are looking forward to working with the SA Tourism Commission and Department of Environment to further develop the walking experience in the Flinders Ranges.
“Tasmania has well-developed walking product and the Victorians are doing great things with the Alpine Crossing and have plans for a Grampians Loop Circuit. The Flinders Ranges has plenty to offer as a walking destination but we need to make sure we develop and market the product adequately or risk losing this growing market.”
Rawnsley Park Station has also welcomed QantasLink’s decision to introduce a twice daily Adelaide-Whyalla service, and is offering transfers from Whyalla to Rawnsley Park on request.
“The increased competition on the Adelaide to Whyalla route will mean cheaper fares and the Qantas network will provide greater reach to the world tourism market,” Mr Smith said.
“For the self-drive market we are encouraging visitors to travel to the Flinders via the Clare Valley, and have partnered with the Clare Country Club to offer a three-night accommodation and touring package.”
On the events front, Rawnsley Park Station, still a working sheep station, will stage Lamb Selection Dinners monthly from May 6. Limited to 20 people, the hosted dinners feature a sumptuous four-course menu featuring Rawnsley’s own lamb. They are held in The Woolshed Restaurant, which is run by husband and wife team Andrew and Elizabeth, who came to Rawnsley Park Station 18 months ago after working in London for Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey.
“We trialled the Lamb Selection dinners last year during Tasting Australia and they were well-received,” Mr Smith said. “Guests enjoyed trying our lamb prepared in different ways, as well as learning about life on the Station.”
Also on the Woolshed Restaurant calendar for 2015 is a performance by Adelaide folk-rock band The Germein Sisters on October 23, with dinner, show and accommodation packages to be released soon.
Mr Smith said though tonight’s national Tourism Award recognition was for Rawnsley Park’s eco-villa accommodation, the business’ 3.5-star holiday units were also in high demand.
“The 28 units have undergone an interior upgrade over the past year thanks to support from the SA Tourism Commission,” he said. “This included the installation of timber decks and renovating the bathrooms, bringing them to a standard that reflects the expectations of domestic and international visitors.”
Addressing tourism industry representatives, including Tourism Minister Leon Bignell, at today’s function, Mr Smith also unveiled Rawnsley Park’s new logo and imagery, shot by Adelaide photographer Randy Larcombe.
“It’s an exciting time for Rawnsley Park Station and the Flinders Ranges in general and we look forward to working with the industry to maximise the region’s potential as one of Australia’s iconic tourism destinations.”
For more information on Rawnsley Park Station visit www.rawnsleypark.com.au
For a full list of finalists in the Australian Tourism Awards visit http://australiantourismawards.com.au/2014-awards/2014-finalists/