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Conference Program


Tuesday 28 May 2024

Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre and Precinct
1.00pm Registration and Trade tables Open in Foyers, Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Tom Buckland, Flock, 2024 displayed outside Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre. Commissioned by Wagga Wagga City Council.

Conference begins Day 1 (Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre)
2.00pm Welcome
Setting the Scene
Cr Phyllis Miller OAM, Vice-President Rural/Regional, LGNSW
Session 1  KEYNOTE The Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail: Sculpture by the Sea
Bondi to Batlow and Tamarama to Tumbarumba
David Handley AM – Founder of Sculpture by Sea and The Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail
  🍵 Afternoon Tea, Trade tables and viewing Public Artwork outside Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Sponsored by Leonards Advertising
  Delegates pre-booked concurrent workshop streams below – Walk (5 mins) to Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and Council Civic Centre
3.30pm-4.30pm  WORKSHOPS
  Stream 1 – Wagga Wagga Civic Centre Stream 2 – Council Civic Theatre Stream 3 – Wagga Wagga Library


Generation Impossible: A Destination Marketing guide to engaging Gen Z
Hannah Statham, CEO and Founder, Media Mortar

Love them or hate them, by 2026 Gen Z will be largest generation in the workforce and every destination’s hand will be forced into engaging this illusive demographic. But how do you engage the generation who grew up with a phone in their hand? Hannah Statham will explain how.

Sponsored by Leonards Advertising

Tourism Experiences

Northern Rivers Rail Trail Journey presented by Nicole Manderson, Program Leader – Destination and Industry Development, Tweed Shire Council

Mogo Bike Trails Hub presented by Juliane Wisata, Rocky Trails, including a case study from Eurobodalla Shire Council

Understanding the electric vehicle (EV) transition in NSW  presented by Carly Levy, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, EV Charging Partner.
The session will showcase and discuss:

  • What the NSW Government is doing across electric vehicle programs to support the EV transition in NSW
  • The role of local government in the EV transition and how to access NSW Government co-funding to support EV charging at local council sites and encourage installations at visitor economy businesses.
  • Case study on a visitor economy business and regional local council to hear how they have approached and installed EV chargers in their LGA.

    Sponsored by AFS Group

Arts and Culture

Creative arts - Cardbirds

Join artist Tom Buckland and Wagga Wagga City Council’s Cultural Officer Lauren Reynolds for a creative arts session sculpting three-dimensional birds from recycled cardboard.

Tom’s larger-than-life bird sculptures, inspired by local wildlife and featured on the lawns of the Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre, serve as inspiration for your own creation. This workshop will cover arts and the visitor economy, sustainability and working with creatives in Local Government.
Sponsored by Wagga Wagga City Council Cultural Services

4.30pm Walk (5 mins) from Council Civic Centre to Civic Theatre for coach transfer
4.40pm  Coach transfers from Wagga Wagga Civic Centre to Welcome Reception venue – Food I am
5.00pm 🍴 Welcome Reception at Food I am
29 Kunzea Place, Springvale | Premier Partner Caravan & Camping Association (CCIA)
– Introduction by Gary O'Riordan, LGNSW Director Events and Learning
– Welcome by Cr Phyllis Miller OAM, Vice-President Rural/Regional, LGNSW
– Premier Partner address by Shannon Lakic, General Manager, Policy and Engagement, Caravan and Camping Industry Association NSW 
6.45pm Delegates are encouraged to pre-book at local restaurants in town for dinner – speak to the friendly Visit Wagga Wagga Information Centre team.
6.45pm-7.00pm   🚌 Coach transfers from Food I Am to Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre


Wednesday 29 May 2024

Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre and Precinct
8.00am-9.00am 📝 Registration/Information Desk and Trade Exhibition open. ☕ Arrival tea and coffee in foyers, Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Session 1 Conference Day 2 – Plenary Sessions – Wagga Civic Theatre 
Welcome and Intro Zoe Naylor, Conference MC
Ceremonial Welcome  Welcome to Country 
LGNSW Welcome Address  Cr Phyllis Miller OAM, Vice-President Rural/Regional, LGNSW 
Destination Host Council Welcome Mayoral Welcomes: Wagga Wagga City, Coolamon Shire and Junee Shire councils  
Panel Session with Q&A
Focus on Rural and Regional Events attracting tourism
Facilitator and Presenter: Linda Tillman, Event Specialist, Australian Centre for Regional Events
Festival of W – This festival is Wagga Wagga City Council’s largest destination event held in the depths of Winter in Wagga Wagga – presented by Emma Corbett, Events Officer WaggaWagga City Council
Narooma Oyster Festival presented by Cath Peachey, Chair Narooma Rocks
 10.15am 🍵 Morning refreshments and Trade served in foyers, Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Session 2

Keynote with Q&A

Destination Discovery: Data backed strategies for destination branding 

Mikey Taylor, CEO Lionize
Presentation will feature: 

  1. Unpacking the initial data gathering process and its role in brand development.
  2. Community and stakeholder engagement: Building consensus and ownership.
  3. Real-world examples on how destinations have transformed data into a vibrant and evolving brand.
  4. Transitioning from data insights to effective communication strategies for attracting businesses, residents, and tourists.
Session 3  Ministerial address The Hon John Graham MLC, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy and Minister for Jobs and Tourism.
Session 4 Award Presentation

🏆 NSW Top Tourism Town Awards
NSW Tourism Industry Council Powered by Business NSW 
The NSW Tourism Industry Council helps businesses operating in the Visitor Economy maximise their potential to ensure New South Wales remains the number one tourism destination in Australia. 
12.30pm 🍽️ Lunch served in foyers, Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre 

🚌 Delegates for site visits assemble at main entrance of Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre for coach transfers (site visit departures at least five minutes apart).

Please refer to below for full details of site visits. Afternoon refreshments will be provided.

Site Visit 1 Destination Wagga Wagga – CBD Walking Tour
1.45pm-5.30pm Walking tour – easy to moderate. Please wear comfortable walking shoes. Join a CBD walking tour of Wagga Wagga to take in the best of its city sights, unique culture and hidden gems.
Learn more about the significance of Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri culture to the city with an immersive cultural experience. Visit the iconic Wagga Beach (named number 9th best beach in Australia in 2020) and follow the Wiradjuri Trail along the Murrumbidgee River and pass vibrant laneway murals.
Wander down Wagga Wagga’s Fitzmaurice Street, dotted with boutique shops and trendy cafes. Visit The Station Creative Workspace, Wagga Wagga’s historic ambulance station, which has been revitalised into a thriving hub for artists and creatives.
Finish with whisky tasting at Bar Olivette – a 1920’s inspired speakeasy underneath Wagga Wagga’s streetscape 
Site Visit 2 Wagga Wagga: Pedal and Produce
1.50pm-5.30pm 🚌 Coach transfer, 10 minutes each way. Easy walking with limited bike hire and trishaw hire.  Meet the makers. Discover the region's diverse landscapes and take your taste buds on a bite-size journey around Wagga Wagga in this multisensory tour. Start at Charles Sturt Winery, a special cellar door that is an extension of Charles Sturt University’s leading wine science school. Sample the top drops served here and learn about the interesting varieties and cutting-edge winemaking techniques.
Just five-minutes from Wagga Wagga’s CBD, discover the natural wonders of Marrambidya Wetland, a stunning 20-hectare reserve alongside the Murrumbidgee River. Delegates can choose to connect with nature on two wheels, kick back in a bike charter (trishaws – limited places) or experience the reserve on foot led by the council’s environmental officer.
Travel to Bidgee Strawberries and Cream, one of the region’s signature agritourism experiences, and learn how these super sweet strawberries are grown using sustainable hydroponic farming techniques.
Site Visit 3 Coolamon – Tourism Trails and Tales
1.40pm-5.30pm 🚌 Coach transfer, 30 minutes each way. Easy walking. Wander through Coolamon’s charming streetscape and explore boutique shops, cafes and museums – just a half-hour drive from Wagga Wagga.
Visit the historic 1900s Up-to-Date Store with its original fittings and displays. Meander up the historic main street and stop in at Coolamon Cheese Co for a cheese tasting and tour of the facility.
Finish the day at The Station Collective, a cosy cafe in Coolamon’s heritage train station and hear tourism stories from local business owners who are transforming Coolamon into a must-see regional destination.
Site Visit 4 Junee – Heritage, History and Chocolate
1.30pm-5.30pm 🚌 Coach transfer, 30 minutes each way. Easy walking.   Immerse yourself in heritage, history and chocolate, just a short half-hour drive from Wagga Wagga.
Set in a picturesque country town, Junee promises a triple treat for the senses. Visit the largest working railway roundhouse in the southern hemisphere, enjoy a guided tour and memorable sweet treats at Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory, and finish the day at the iconic heritage-listed Athenium Theatre – an incredible piece of local history.
This tour includes a scenic 30-minute bus transfer, allowing delegates to soak in the beautiful countryside surrounds.
5.30pm Site visits return to Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre 
6.40pm 🚌 Coach transfer from Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre to The Wild Vine
7.00pm-10.00pm 🍽️ Conference Dinner and entertainment – The Wild Vine (Oura Road, Oura)
Address by Elite Partner, Liz Ward, CEO, Tourism Tribe 
10.00pm-10.30pm 🚌 Return coach transfers from The Wild Vine to Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre.


Thursday 30 May 2024

Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre and Precinct
8.15am Information desk and Trade exhibition open. ☕ Arrival tea and coffee (Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre and foyers) 
Tom Buckland, Flock, 2024 displayed outside Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre. Commissioned by Wagga Wagga City Council.
9.00am Day 3 Plenary Sessions – Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Session 1 Welcome and Housekeeping Zoe Naylor, Conference MC 
Keynote Session and Q&A 
International Market Update – Tourism Australia 

Dominic Mehling, Tourism Australia

Dominic Mehling joined Tourism Australia in 2017 and acts as the primary link between domestic tourism product and the Australian Government agency responsible for promoting Australia to the world as a destination for leisure and business travel. Dom will provide an update on the recovery of international markets, Tourism Australia’s campaigns, and the latest consumer insights.

10.00am 🍵 Morning refreshments served in Trade area foyers Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Session 2 Panel Session and Q&A
Creating Agritourism experiences
Adriana Biuk Product Manager, Agritourism and Culinary Tourism | Destination NSW
Kate Shilling, Project Manager, Agritourism, Tourism Australia
Angie Armstrong, Co-director of Callubri Station

Hear from leaders in the Agritourism field including how Angie Armstrong from Callubri Station, an exclusive outback lodge and farmstay in Central West NSW, has developed unique bookable experiences and is one of the few agritourism businesses in NSW that is an internationally ready product.
Session 3 Keynote address and Q&A
Destination NSW
Steve Cox, Destination NSW

Steve Cox is the Chief Executive Officer of Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency.
Steve is a passionate and energetic champion for Greater Sydney and regional NSW. He drives the strategic direction of Destination NSW, including the delivery of the NSW Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 to ensure NSW is the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific by 2030.
Session 4  Announcement Host Council 2025  Zoe Naylor, Conference MC
 Closing remarks
 12.10pm 🥡 Grab and Go Lunch served in Trade exhibition foyers, Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
Tom Buckland, Flock, 2024 displayed outside Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre. Commissioned by Wagga Wagga City Council.
12.45pm Conference concludes and delegates return to their home bases. 

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