The inaugural Alice Stampede mega-familiarisation event which was held last week in Alice Springs from 12-15 July has already been deemed an outstanding success.
This four day joint initiative of the Alice Springs Convention Centre and the Northern Territory Convention Bureau (NTCB) enabled a group of 20 Business Event planners to visit the heart of Central Australia and gain first-hand experience of the venues, accommodation, activities and services on offer in this quintessential outback town.
The hosted group included Professional Conference Organisers, incentive buyers and event planners from the corporate and association sectors, with participants flying in from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
The famil was perfectly timed to coincide with the completion of the new 66 room wing of Lasseters Hotel Casino. Famil participants gained an exclusive sneak preview of these rooms, being the first group to stay prior to the arrival of the official paying guests.
A Business Forum session at the Alice Springs Convention Centre set the scene on the first day. Five local speakers talked passionately about “their” Alice Springs, including experts such as Lyndon Frearson from the Centre for Appropriate Technologies (CAT) and Sarah Browne from The Purple House, who enthralled the group with their respective presentations on cutting edge solar technologies and outstanding indigenous community health care initiatives.
A highlight of the Thursday to Sunday event was a day at the races “Alice Springs-style”, attending the world-renowned Lasseters Camel Cup. Guests enjoyed lunch and watched the races from the well-appointed comfort of the Lasseters Hotel Casino marquee. The previous day, participants had enjoyed their own ride, with a gentler camel trek through the spectacular outback countryside, courtesy of Pyndan Camel Tracks. An interactive dot painting workshop was also held at Pyndan, with local indigenous artists providing advice to budding painters and making it look so easy. Later in the day, cocktails at Muk Muk Gallery provided a viewing of wonderful examples of indigenous art and also showcased a fantastic venue for small dinners and cocktail party events.
Some amazing off-site dining venues were highlighted in the Stampede programme and included dinner on the stage at the Araluen Arts Centre Theatre, with a surprise “reveal” of drumming entertainment by the children of Drum Atweme. The Araluen Gallery also included a display from the recently held Beanie Festival and each famil participant was able to choose their very own beanie as a practical and unique keepsake. The spectacular cliffs and rocky escarpments of The Quarry provided a sensational setting for dinner under the stars on the final night of the programme.
A visit to the new $3 million Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Visitor Centre showcased the 70 seat theatre with its state-of-the-art technology and digital projection equipment. Insights and tastes of the NT’s indigenous culture were woven throughout the programme and included an outback bush lunch and guided walk at Simpson’s Gap, presentations at Alice Springs Desert Park, the gallery visit, interaction with indigenous artists and a spectacular didgeridoo performance at The Quarry.
Activities included hot air ballooning over the stunning desert landscape, bike riding from the sunrise vantage point of Anzac Hill to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station which was followed by the essential Alice Springs experience – a mini Henley-on-Todd Yacht Regatta conducted in the dry Todd Riverbed. Meeting some of the reptilian locals from the Alice Springs Reptile Centre got the adrenalin pumping and a visit to the Overlander’s Steakhouse revealed some talented singers and “wobble board” players within the group.
With so much to see and do, networking with an additional nine local business event professionals was made possible via a “speed dating” format mini trade show. A range of site inspections also highlighted additional accommodation, venue and activity options available.
Ian Solomon, Manager of the Alice Springs Convention Centre indicated that the inaugural Alice Stampede was a great opportunity to “re-introduce” the convention centre to event planners. “We’re celebrating our tenth birthday this year and yet planners around the country continue to discover something new and exciting about our state-of-the-art facility every day.” He said that the centre had kept pace with its competitors, having recently been re-carpeted and with fibre optic internet cabling also installed, free internet was available for delegates, as well as high speed video conferencing.
Scott Lovett, the Director of Business Tourism with the NTCB said “We’ve been delighted to embark on this new joint initiative with our partners at the Alice Springs Convention Centre. We’ve already received fantastic feed-back from the Stampede participants and there’s no doubt that they’ve had their eyes opened regarding the depth of product and great experiences available in Alice Springs for conferences and incentives.”
For more information on Alice Springs, visit www.ntconventions.com