Boggabri Drovers’ Campfire is among the big hitters vying for national tourism awards on Friday night.
Campfire founder Geoff Eather, his wife Elaine, their son-in-law Richard Gillham, and friends Ron and May Boxsell, Craig Devine and Rod Kerr will attend the 2015 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards Gala Night at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre.
The Eathers and Boxsells arrived in Wodonga yesterday for an overnight stay and planned to return there on Saturday before heading back to Boggabri.
Mr Eather said his wife Elaine was “very excited” about attending the awards event, which is one of five they have been invited to in the past eight months.
The Drovers’ Campfire won two awards at the Travel In Inland Tourism Awards in July 2015 and was named a finalist in the Northern Inland Innovation Awards in November 2015.
A week after the Innovation Awards, the event won the Dobija Print World Events and Tourism Award, and at the end of November, it beat out its competitors in the Festivals and Events category at the NSW Tourism Awards in Sydney.
“After Sydney, anything’s possible, I suppose,” Mr Eather said.
“We didn’t really think we had too much chance in Sydney but we did, so who knows.”
The Campfire event is up against the likes of the 2015 National Folk Festival, Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster and Fun4Kids Festival.
Mr Eather said the volunteers would be “disappointed” if the event didn’t win on Friday night but being there still meant something.
“We realise that we’re in some pretty serious competition, so just to be there is a real high anyway,” he said.
“It’d be great if we won but to get this far from an idea that I had 10 years or so ago, to get to where we are is unbelievable, really.
“I believe part of the reason we’re going as well as we are is it’s what you do with what you’ve got. That’s the reason we can compete with the bigger festivals,” he said.
“When you look at who you’re up against, you think, ‘Oh yeah, we’re against some big players here, lots of money… but it goes back to what I said before, it’s what you do with what you’ve got.”
Narrabri Shire Tourism manager Penny Jobling has been instrumental in helping the Campfire team with the award applications but said she was unable to attend the national awards.
“This is the first time Narrabri’s Shire ever had an event at a huge awards like this,” she said.