Deborah Clark spent a lot of time discovering the Armidale region as the faimliy were growing up going to natioanl parks and river fossicking. Deborah now uses her knowledge of the area in her role as Acting Tourism Manager for the Armidale Dumaresq Council.
>How long have you lived in Armidale?
I have lived in Armidale all my life. I went to school at O’Connor Catholic College and St Mary’s Primary School. I come from a family of 3 brothers and a sister, all older than me.
I married David in 1985, and we have two wonderful children. We have been lucky that they were both able to find work in Armidale after completing school. They were both able to obtain apprenticeships – Kristy in hairdressing and Johnathen in the automotive industry.
As the children were growing up we spent a lot of time discovering the Armidale region, going to the national parks and rivers fossicking and just generally exploring the area. I had no idea that it would be of value to me in the future. As a family we do everything together and enjoy each other’s company; water skiing, camping and fishing take up a big part of our summer activities.
In the winter we are involved with motorkhanas and kahnacrosses with the New England Sporting Car Club. Being involved in these Car Club activities has been a great learning curve for the children; they are now very skilled drivers. I love old cars, so David and Johnathen are in the process of restoring a 1970 Datsun 1600 for me.
We have a five acre property on the outskirts of town and enjoy the garden. I tried my hand at raising a lamb and a calf, but gardens and animals don’t go together, so I tend to leave the farm thing for when I visit my aunt and uncle’s property west of Uralla.
> What is your position with the Armidale Dumaresq Council?
At the moment I am Acting Tourism Manager. My usual position is Centre Coordinator. I am responsible for the administration of the Centre; hence I have a close working association with the Accounts Department at Armidale Dumaresq Council. I work closely with the various accommodation and tour operators and network with other tourism industry colleagues.
We have an accommodation booking system here at the Visitor Information Centre and provide hard copy material for people coming into the Centre.
As part of my job I need to go out and about to familiarise myself with all aspects of tourism in the area on a regular basis. David and I try to take a different road each time we travel anywhere and note things like: attractions, kilometres, travel times and road conditions. This information is always helpful when giving information to visitors at the Centre.
I started at the Visitor information Centre as a volunteer on what used to be the Electric Trolley tours as a guide. A position became vacant and I was successful in my application and started here at the Centre on a casual basis in 1997. Since then I have completed various certificates and I am now undertaking a Diploma of Tourism.
I enjoy working in the Centre, as my job is so varied, and the customers always appreciate the help we give them. I received the Employee of the Year award in 2000 and was runner up in 2001.
Yes, I love my job. There are not many people out there who can say that, but in the 11 years of being involved with the Centre, I have enjoyed the challenges and the customers.
> What is Armidale Tourism’s involvement in Country Week?
Armidale Tourism is involved with Country Week, bringing together businesses to attend and organising the stand. The Visitor Information Centre supplies supporting and promotional material. The Centre produces a New Resident’s Booklet, which contains business contact details for people and industries contemplating moving to Armidale. It is important to have this on hand for potential new residents of Armidale.
As a Visitors Centre we tend to be the first port of call for this type of material. Armidale Dumaresq Council also supply and produce other forms of support material that we put together at the Centre.
> What major events does Armidale host?
The Wool Expo, Autumn Festival, St Peter’s Garden Tour, various sporting events, Musica Viva, Sydney Symphony, Square Dancing Festival, Medieval Arts Festival, Armidale International Film Festival, Sustainable Living Expo, Australia’s Open Garden Scheme, Rotary Book Fair, Quilters Exp0 and the Antique Machinery Rally. In conjunction with the University and education facilities here we also have a variety of arts, cultural and musical activities throughout the year.
> Tell us about some must visit local attractions?
If you only had one day in Armidale, some of the top sights and attractions would be to start with the Guided Heritage Tour. This tour introduces the visitor to Armidale, giving a history of the city and the heritage buildings. The tour stops at the following attractions:
• New England Regional Art Museum
• Aboriginal Culture Centre and Keeping Place
• Armidale Railway Museum
• Booloominbah (University of New England)
And for the afternoon, follow scenic drive 19. This covers a variety of attractions, passing local wineries, Dangars Falls, Gostwyck Chapel, Uralla and back up the New England Highway paying a visit to Saumarez Homestead. This drive passes through some of the finest pastoral properties in the New England.
We have so much more to offer; you could plan a holiday here for a week on a minimum budget. The most popular is the Heritage Tour and then the various Scenic Drives; we are lucky to have some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful natural attractions within 1 hour’s drive of Armidale, located in the heart of New England. We have natural heritage, man-made heritage and Aboriginal heritage; what a breathtaking place to live and promote!
> On average, how many tourists come through in a year?
Our visitor numbers have been quite steady over the last few years, ranging from 85,000 to 95,000, averaging 210 people per day.
> Does visitor attendance fluctuate according to our seasons?
Very much so. From January to May we are very busy, and in the winter months visitor numbers tend to decline – although we do get people coming from Queensland just to experience the cold weather. We have another peak period through September, October and November.
> How can you assist residents who decide to move to Armidale?
Our aim is to give the new residents as much information as we can. We have our New Resident’s Booklet and on the last Tuesday of the month we have an afternoon tea for new residents at the Centre.
This get together is an opportunity for new residents to get to know each other and for the staff at the Centre to help with any information they may require.
As well as our casual and permanent staff we are very fortunate in having volunteers working at the Centre. Most of our volunteers have lived in the area for a number of years and their wealth of knowledge is invaluable in assisting new residents.
> Thank you Deborah.