What do you think are the opportunities, challenges and barriers to growing heritage tourism in South Australia?

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This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 9 September 2019 to 7 October 2019. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.

Read Developing a strategic direction for heritage tourism in South Australia and join in the discussion below.

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Stephen Friend

03 Oct 2019

As I see it, one of the biggest problems is deciding what is truly heritage! Just because something is old does NOT mean it should be heritage listed. Furthermore, the worst people to decide on a heritage listing proposal are those people who have an interest in history; they are already biased towards historical artifacts and are by definition incapable of unbiased decisions.

Lee Williams

30 Sep 2019

Challenges. 9-5 businesses, that travellers, may not always have travel time coincide with, particularly people who hire cars, travel and it is a new experience for them.
Rubbish..... tourism attracts rubbish. it is a very costly part of "tourism", many local councils would find this a challenge.
Rubbish.... there is a lot of rubbish on the sides of the roads now, open the window and throw it out. This is bothersome, it looks awful, and encourages more "rubbish", the areas are particularly noticeable a few km's from food outlets. maybe encouraging people to eat where they buy?? as it is obviously consumed a few minutes later while driving?
Cost of communications. mobile phone coverage is expected, there are still many areas that do not have good coverage, or no coverage. this is vital for safety, and possibly inhibit some travelers, visiting some areas. ie Coorong

Bad publicity...a challenge is to negate bad publicity, ie. travelers would be reluctant to go somewhere that has continual publicity about criminal activity that has occurred. SA has had its fair share of that. hence the above comments of good reliable communications, and viable businesses enroute when travelling around our amazing countryside. So travellers feel safe.

Tegan Whalan

17 Sep 2019

I think the biggest barrier to great tourism in South Australia is the under-investment in the people to bring tourism alive.

Many tourist attractions in South Australia are supported by volunteers - either on the front desk or as tour guides or, worse, in developing marketing materials and websites. While volunteers and their work ethic is phenomenal, for South Australian tourism to be taken seriously, it needs to engage skilled staff. Tour guides, welcome/reception staff, people who have a great presence, great people skills, and are able to deliver stories in a way that fascinates and delights a visitor. Some volunteers do, of course, but many do not. We'd be far better off hiring based on skills instead of recruiting volunteers based on willingness and availability.

Every single great tourism experience I've had was made wonderful by the people with me. Posting interpretive signs and hoping the tourists come is not enough - I want someone to share a story inspired by the scenery. If I wanted to read, I'd get a book and stay at home.


In terms of opportunities, thinking specifically about my region of the lower north, there is an abundance of 100+ year old buildings with wonderful stories, including quaint store fronts in many regional towns. With a little paint and love, at least the facades of these buildings could be revitalised to brighten main streets into the image of yester-year. Tourists frequently look for photo opportunities, and a colourful, unique, historic street could be just the thing to appear on an Instagram feed.

In many towns, the great heritage tourism is not clearly signposted. I still haven't found the perfect place to take a photo of Hamley Bridge, and I drove past the turn for Stockport Observatory, then drove up and down the road for an age before entering the wrong gate. The Saddleworth Church is beautiful, but I wasn't sure if I was allowed to drive in to take a closer look... All of these problems could be solved with signage showing me exactly where to go.

The old railway line, and associated buildings, are a beautiful historic link to the age where trains ruled over trucks. There's so many opportunities to tell stories along the line, bring to life the old buildings, and remember an age where coal was king.

The Clare Valley and Barossa are well promoted as a wine centres - but even I struggle to know what to do in those places if you're a non-drinker. The wine is one drawcard, but surely there's more to the region than alcohol. There may be opportunities with the Ngadjuri to celebrate their rich history with bush tucker, ancient art, and sites of significance.

Thinking further beyond, there are several places I love in South Australia - and places that I think, given the opportunity, could really motivate tourism to the state.

Adelaide is an amazingly designed city - because it WAS designed. While other cities were made piece by piece, Adelaide was made at once as a settlement free of the convict stain. This elitism still influences South Aussies today - down to the way we speak. This unique story can be celebrated all throughout Adelaide.

Mount Gambier is the most under-rated place in South Australia - and maybe Australia. It has amazing geology, resulting in a phenomenal cave experience. Beside it's interesting and natural beauty, the old structures in the town are stunning. If other parts of the South East are considered, the drainage history of Millicent, the caves of Naracoorte, the run-away holes in Mundulla. Yet I sadly see so little promotion of this area beside the picturesque Blue Lake.

The outback is a uniquely Australian experience that international tourists seek. Port Augusta is well promoted as the gateway to the outback, with Wadlata's tourist centre, and the stunning arid botanic gardens. But beyond that, we can do more at Woomera, with it's military background, at Roxby Downs, with its mine tours, with the arial views from William Creek, with the brilliantly fascinating Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs. These unique outback experiences are what people visit Australia for.

Government Agency

Department for Environment and Water > Tegan Whalan

19 Sep 2019

Thank you very much for your considered and insightful feedback Tegan. You've identified some key issues, opportunities and solutions. - Linda

Chris Blaikie > Tegan Whalan

20 Sep 2019

I know what you mean about the Barossa. I love native vegetation and fauna and even though there is some in the Barossa much is degraded by the drains that crisscross the valley lowering the watertable and robbing water from the creeks.
I was very disappointed by the state of the creek in Nuri just the other day...
Places with stories like : Ruins at Hoffnungsthal village near Lyndock in the Barossa Valley South Australia. German settlers founded village in 1847. It was swept away by a flood in 1853 and never reoccupied. Ruins of the old Lutheran Church. https://www.flickr.com/photos/82134796@N03/9782148153
....interestingly I have been told that the local indigenous people tried to tell them that it was a stupid place to build a village...,which I find the best part of the story. myself.

Andrew C

11 Sep 2019

The biggest barrier is SA's attitude to heritage is extremely negative especially when it comes to preservation.
You need to look towards how its done in the UK where the heritage economy is massive and creates thousands of jobs.

The challenge is the multi layer of government who are never on the same page about heritage and its potential benefits.

There are many opportunities to build on what you already have in State tourism. The Wildlife and Nature and Food and Wine aspects as they all have heritage links. Wildlife and Nature links very much to Aboriginal history while the more modern food and wine has links to historic colonial settler families.

Government Agency

Department for Environment and Water > Andrew C

19 Sep 2019

Thank you Andrew for taking the time to contribute. Heritage certainly is part of a strong tapestry of visitor experiences in South Australia, and can build on the success of nature, food and wine. - Linda

Chris Blaikie

10 Sep 2019

Unfortunately our recent economic stimulus and accelerated works program by council has resulted in the destruction of much of the public infrastructure heritage of our town and area. Some of these structures and heritage places were included in our local heritage survey of mid 2000s. This made no difference to council planning or protection of these assets.
For an authentic heritage experience that visitors will enjoy, these more peripheral assets need to be preserved - not just the 'stately homes' and private buildings and houses. The everyday heritage items of the community and public spaces give an accessible context to any visitors heritage experience.
We now have no stone bridges in town (maybe one small and endangered one) despite having 3 a few years ago. I am not just however talking about bridges. Streetscapes, stone guttering and water infrastructure and heritage street tree plantings have all been destroyed.
The challenge is for council to have a consistent vision and willingness to mange these things for their heritage value and not just 'wish them away' as they have been doing. The antique shop owner gave up on the place and left town because of the council's attitude to heritage issues.

Government Agency

Department for Environment and Water > Chris Blaikie

19 Sep 2019

Hi Chris,
Thanks so much contributing to our discussion. Authenticity is the key to good heritage tourism. What Council area are you located in? - Linda

Chris Blaikie > Chris Blaikie

20 Sep 2019

Light Regional Council and it is Kapunda I am specifically referring to.
The items in the heritage survey that have been damaged or removed by council or by council not opposing their removal include :
Clare Castle Hotel heritage stone wall. The council claim it was not part of the heritage listing of the hotel although that is obviously the whole site and not just the building.
Clare Castle Hotel original verandah.
Heritage red postal pillar box from Main Rd, Carrington St corner.
Stone guttering and water tables from various streets.
A unique stone structure that was part of the spillway/creek for Davidson Reserve/Lower Dam (the original name)/duck pond. One of, if not the earliest, public water infrastructure sites in SA but not listed in the Heritage survey. Was apparently called 'the stonepipe' and was a section of the creek below the dam that was tightly lined with 3-4 foot long stones that maintained permanent water in that section of creek.
At the point where the stonepipe ended was a small but very well made stone pedestrian bridge that was part of 'Railway Lane' on old maps. The thing that pains me the most about this work is that it has altered the hydrology of the next section of creek which they have also excavated and damaged with herbicide and leaves no habitat or breeding areas for our local frog population. ....when I first moved here there were even kingfishers to be seen in this creek area which are generally seen as an indicator of valuable aquatic habitat nearby. It was our towns biodiversity hotspot and the adjacent land had reasonably good quality native grassland (now degraded by council herbicide use and earthmoving). The creek still has some rush and sedge species but has also been oversprayed by council and some semi-aquatic forbs have been wiped out. All this poor management has increased weed growth and fire risk.
The Way St stone bridge....that at the time of the public consultation meeting at Way St had already had the facing stonework removed/demolished so it was not really even possible to organise any opposition to these works as much of the damage had already been done. The council attempted to justify it by rebuilding a stone face on the new bridge even though I tried to explain that doing that kind of thing is not Heritage Conservation. The result they ended up with is far worse than you would probably expect.
Ross Creek Bridge Kidman Road, Kapunda has been completely replaced/demolished. It suffered some damage to the guard wall on one side from a truck colliding with it (the offender a mystery) but was still used for quite some time, so not structurally unsound.
Removal of mature street trees for dubious reasons (including a petition by residents that did not provide any real evidence to justify this action). In this case they were near a Drs Surgery and people regularly chose to park under them which may have annoyed some people but no evidence of damage to gutters road or footpaths despite the claims of such. Other trees including whole avenues and the large trees from the main street have also been removed....see our new heritage supermarket development....
"3.3.4 Tree Planting
There are excellent examples of avenues of early street planting in towns throughout Light.
All should be carefully managed to maintain the mature trees and retain the landscape qualities that these provide for the towns, both as avenue entrances to the towns and also as significant consistent rows of shade providing trees within the towns themselves. It is recommended that Council’s street tree planting policy include the principle of continuing established patterns of existing planting and replacing with the same species wherever necessary to continue any established historic character in the planting."


The council is saying it intends to remove all Desert Ash (Fraxinus angustifolia trees because of their weedy nature and that they are also "are at the edge of their climatic tolerance."
...but they are only applying this rule to the ones in our town and some of their replacement options have the same issues. There is no hurry to remove the established street trees while they don't remove the ones that are along the roads outside of town or have a great record of successful recent street tree plantings.
....and yesterday I see a venarably old Peppercorn Tree (Schinus molle) that made up part of the street planting for Railway Pde has been poisoned. In this case most likely by the Genesee Wyoming 'vegetation management' contractors. They would be unlikely to have done this without council request or approval though.

The Light Council, if you speak to them, will no doubt suggest that I complain about everything although what I have given you here is around about a complete list of issues I have raised with them. Except for my concern about the proposed insitu-leaching mining project at the Kapunda Mine Site. I don't actually care about the heritage issues there (outside of native vegetation) even though my relatives worked in the horrible place in the distant past. The council already wrecked most of it in the past. Of great concern though is the presence of Uranium in "high concentrations", Rare Earth Elements, copper and some lead even.
yes deleted from there but still available here (sorry about the annoying long address) :

All these issues I have raised are less than 1 km from my house....and yes I'm quite annoyed and concerned about them and quite willing to be rude. :)
The Light Council has been generally less than forthcoming with any information about these issues and has had a tendency to just make things up rather than be truthful. No wonder almost no one(non baby boomers) bother to complain or be involved in local issues. ...alright I'll stop now.
I hope that covers it all well enough for you.

Chris Blaikie > Chris Blaikie

20 Sep 2019

Oh also, that section of creek was the last place local indigenous people camped of their own free will in the area before being moved onto private land so I believe it should have some Indigenous Heritage value although that is not up to me as I am not Indigenous Australian.

Government Agency

Department for Environment and Water > Chris Blaikie

26 Sep 2019

Thank you Chris. You've really invested some time and deep thinking into providing this feedback and it is appreciated.

Chris Blaikie > Chris Blaikie

05 Oct 2019

I should say I was mistaken about 'Ross Creek Bridge Kidman Road, Kapunda' and that is still there.
However the creek reserve in Kapunda has continued to be sprayed, despite the council being informed about what is (and was there).
It actually appears that the native grasses have been specifically targeted while weed grasses have been left untouched. ....I was hoping to collect and identify a wet area ‎Rytidosperma sp. (wallaby grass) that was most probably a rare one.
This area had a larger number of indigenous ground flora than most of the LRC's roadside native vegetation sites (around 20 species).
Carex tereticaulis is still present in the creekline despite the spraying and is a regionally rare wetland sedge https://spapps.environment.sa.gov.au/SeedsOfSA/speciesinformation.html?rid=975
It also contained Alternanthera denticulata (Lesser Joyweed) https://spapps.environment.sa.gov.au/SeedsOfSA/speciesinformation.html?rid=336 which is rated as rare in the region. This was sprayed after I had shown it to the council bio-diversity orificer. The same guy who has in the past told me that "biodiversity in this area is doomed."
This council are a bunch of vindictive nasty troglodytes and it is not just the built heritage that they show little care for. :(
I will have to give running in the council elections another go....

Chris Blaikie > Chris Blaikie

07 Oct 2019

I think I have come up with the best theory yet as to why the LRC destroyed the creek (that was acknowledged as a creek in council documents that called the area "the creek reserve").
The LRC has been filling the Lower Dam/Duckpond/Davidson Reserve with recycled water (from the 'purple pipe') that if that is considered part of a waterway is an illegal act.
I have already told them they should not be doing this.
When they destroyed the heritage stone structures below the dam wall they also put a hole in the metal floodgate and excavated sludge from inside the dam wall.
This removed any permanent water from below the dam making it possible for them to claim that it is not a waterway despite it always being such.
They also claimed that the dam had now sprung a leak (which they likely made). The eventual fix they chose to implement consists of a partial plastic liner of the dam across the dam wall and along part of the bottom.
Consequently they can claim that it is not a waterway and also plastic lined enabling them to appear to be following the rules as far as not allowing recycled Bolivar water into a waterway....
I have NEVER been able to get an answer from anyone in council as to whether it is a waterway or not.
This council pays for consultants to develop plans but seems incapable of following any of them.
Today my son and I went for a walk to and around the mine. To my dismay the environmental regeneration area at the back of the mine now has a motorbike track in it that has been constructed with a great amount of effort. ....Various jumps and berms not just an informal track way. To obtain the soil for these jumps, etc reasonably large rectangles of topsoil have been dug out. For a while I have heard motorbike riding that sounded like it was coming from the mine area.
The amount of construction and usage of this track makes it seem unlikely that the council does not know about it.
How can this be compatible with the management objectives of the council mine plan?
How can this be compatible with any passive or tourism recreation ?
You may think it slightly odd that I am telling you this but as I have said the Light Regional Council refuses to engage honestly or in any good faith on any issue or more often they just do not respond at all. I have nothing positive to say about their level of competence or genuine interest in the town or local environment. It is not really possible for this all to be based in ignorance and lack of imagination.
Of further concern regarding the minesite and its management is that in recent years the council has altered the drainage of the site and appear to have directed contaminated water off the site that can only be ending up in the Light River. This may have included pumping. It may also be responsible for some of the changes to water quality, or lack of (particularly crystal clear water with no life evident in it...because it is toxic to aquatic life) , and changes to aquatic and riparian vegetation.
Unfortunately we have no useful, local media and there seems to be no real oversight of council's activities and these are all complex issues that most locals don't know of or maybe don't care [enough] about.
I hope they are not signs of a deeper malaise.
Maybe this story concerning Victoria has some relevance to South Australia as well.
"A damning report into the risk of corruption within local government in Victoria highlights the need for greater scrutiny of regional councils, a ratepayers advocacy group says."