A sporting event which will attract thousands of spectators and millions of dollars to the region is up for grabs, but it is not ours yet.
The Wild Rivers International Moto Sprint was first proposed to be held in the Walcha Shire by the promoters Inside Line Events back in late 2015, but despite strong support from the local council and community for the motorbike time trial hill climb, it was overlooked by the NSW Government.
“Destination NSW at that time was very metro-focused,” said Inside Line Events operations manager George Spring.
Promoter David Rollins and Mr Spring then directed their attention to Maleny on the Sunshine Coast last year, receiving enthusiastic support from both riders and council. The proposal is still being reviewed by the Queensland Government and a decision is close.
But last month Mr Spring met with Adam Marshall, Member for Northern Tablelands and NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events,to discuss bringing the event back to NSW.
The event seems to have a more natural fit with the New England area owing to the attributes of the Oxley Highway and strong support from both the Walcha community and the Walcha Council. That and the fact that Mr Spring is Walcha born and bred.
With the television rights now secured the hill climb would also mean exposure for the region to a billion households worldwide, according to Mr Spring.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the region to capture a world class event,” he said.
“Our conservative estimate is that 25,000 people will attend the event injecting up to $15 million dollars into the area. We will have huge camping grounds, a festival site at Yarrowitch and the competition route is within easy reach of Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Armidale and Walcha."
The promoters will also use bed and breakfasts in the region and encourage local farmers and households to rent out rooms.
“To get the event someone in government has to say yes,” said Mr Rollins.
“We need Destination NSW and NSW Police to get onboard and then we are good to go. There are great roads in the Maleny area, but the event was originally conceived on the Oxley Highway for the Oxley Highway, so it will come down to who is first past the post.”