Ex-Sydneysider STUART PEARSON looks at Bathurst and its future from the perspective of a new resident.
LET me say straight up that the Bathurst 1000 is great for Bathurst. It is the biggest single economic stimulus to the city in the yearly calendar.
More than 50,000 local, national and international visitors attend each day of the four-day event, creating hundreds of jobs and massively stimulating the local economy.
According to some economists, the race injects $30 million into the Bathurst economy each year.
There are so many tourists attending the Great Race that they can’t all be accommodated in Bathurst. When the overflow of visitors to other nearby cities and towns - like Lithgow, Oberon, Blayney and Orange - is taken into consideration, the total boost to the economy of the Central West nears $50 million.
An average audience of two million viewers across Australia watch the mammoth seven-hour spectacle of the final day’s race. In fact, more Australians tune in to watch the Bathurst 1000 than the Rugby World Cup, or the Tour de France, or even the FIFA World Cup.
Recently, the race has been broadcast into 70 countries with a combined international television audience of more than 250 million homes globally (Foxtel figures), making the international coverage of Bathurst 1000 one of the most watched events in the history of motor sport.
The Bathurst 1000 is a source of tremendous pride for Bathurst.
However, the only problem is that the promotion of Bathurst as the location of a motor race has been so successful that many people outside this city don’t know what else Bathurst has to offer.
In the short time that I’ve lived in this brilliant city, I’ve come to learn that Bathurst is so much more than just a motor race.
Bathurst already has a diverse number of significant selling points, including music, history, art, culture, education and tourism, but currently none can match the sheer marketing power of the advertising dollars promoting the Bathurst 1000.
I would love day-trippers and overnighters from Sydney to come to Bathurst for the fine wines and gourmet foods; to take in an intriguing (and confronting) art exhibition, or a tour of our historical past, or even a stroll through our beautiful parks and gardens.
Perhaps they would enjoy attending a regional or national sporting event (other than motor racing, that is), maybe a musical performance, or simply relax from the stresses of a frenetic Sydney by appreciating an indulgent massage in a five-star spa.
Our education sector, already one of this city’s greatest strengths, should continue to grow to the point that the whole of Australia recognises Bathurst provides excellence in learning from primary school right through to university.
I want to see students of all ages come here in ever-increasing numbers for their education, along with their families who decide to settle here too.
Bathurst-based Charles Sturt University could lead the charge by becoming the leading university in regional Australia. As a result, Bathurst will continue to benefit enormously from the presence of bright young people with clever ideas.
In short, I hope that in the years ahead, Bathurst becomes every bit as notable for a whole range of activities as it is currently for the Great Race on Mount Panorama.
Why? Because Bathurst is so much more than just a motor race.