By Noel Fisher
Ben Franklin, the newly appointed NSW Minister for Tourism, paid a visit to Broken Hill last weekend taking in some of the major tourist drawcards of the region.
Arriving Friday lunchtime Mr Franklin visited Silverton, the Broken Heel festival and the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
“I have only been in this particular portfolio four weeks, my other portfolios I was appointed to last year, “ he told the Barrier Truth.
“I am trying to get out and see as many iconic and particularly regional tourist experiences as I can and to work out how I can support regional tourism even better, that is certainly the focus I have for as long as I hold this portfolio.
“Getting people to Sydney is really important and is the gateway, but getting people into regional NSW and Broken Hill as a national iconic symbol is exactly where I want people to come.
“The Broken Heel Festival was the anchor for the trip, and naturally as Minister for Tourism I thought it was important to see and support one of the most iconic and unique festivals in the state, but I also took the opportunity to visit a number of organisations in my other portfolios.
“The festival was so much fun and to see the way that the entire local community has embarrassed it.
“We also went out to Silverton to visit the pub, the Mad Max Museum and so forth.
“It was fantastic to see, it was absolutely incredible. I was able to meet the two owners that uprooted their lives in Britain and relocated to one of the most remote parts of the world, it’s extraordinary.
“Going out to Silverton is probably one of the most iconic Australian experiences to visit.
“Today I visited the Pro Hart Gallery and had the opportunity to meet Pro’s wife Raylee, we spent some lovely time together and talked about the impact that Pro had on Australia.
“Not just on the art world but Australia as a whole,” Mr Franklin said
The last stop on the tour was the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS), where Minister Franklin was given a tour and learned some of the history as well as the current operations of the service.
Sue Williams, from the RFDS, explained some of the logistics of the service including that the Broken Hill-based service covers 640,000 square kilometres of territory.
In light of Queen Elizabeth II passing, the chair in which she sat in during her 1954 visit to the RFDS was of particular interest to the minister and his team.
Clyde Thomson, Chairman of Destination Country and Outback NSW, said he was very pleased that one of the first activities as Minister for Tourism saw Mr Franklin has chose to come out to the Far West to experience what is on offer.
“The minister is well aware that the further west you go the more important the support for tourism and the arts communities, but the benefit is much greater.
“So, we are very pleased with the minister’s visit and attention to Broken Hill,” Mr Thomson added.
Minister Franklin said the visit to the RFDS was incredible.
“This is the pinnacle. The iconic nature of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is known across the world and the work that they do here is really profoundly important,” he said.