Mountain Rivers quits Baw Baw boards to go it alone on tourism
 Baw Baw News   By // 19:12, Thursday 16 April 2015

walhalla guide graphic warragul baw baw citizen newspaper

THE WALHALLA & Mountain Rivers Tourism Association has quit both the Baw Baw Business Advisory Board (BAB) and the council’s tourism subcommittee.

First published in the 10 April 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.


Organisation president Michael Leaney told councillors at their meeting on Wednesday the group was not satisfied with how the council’s newly adopted Tourism Development Plan represented the north-east of the LGA.

“At our February meeting the members voted to withdraw from the BAB and the tourism subcommittee because we did not believe it was in line with what [we needed],” Mr Leaney said.

“We’re going to go in our own direction and do our own thing.

“We have written a formal letter to the shire on that behalf.”


The group voted against the adoption of the policy when it was addressed by the BAB and Mr Leaney expressed concern the views of Walhalla had not been listened to.

“We think the policy has a lot of bold motherhood statements, but not a lot of detail,” he said.

“It seems if we bring x, y is presented.

“We are called to put a lot of effort into making submissions but that effort is ignored, so we decided that it’s just not worth it.”

Council staff stated in a report all industry groups had been consulted and the recommendations had been informed by that process.

Councillors adopted the plan, which will be used to guide Baw Baw’s tourism policy and identify “key action areas” in the sector, later in the meeting.

It will be reviewed by the BAB as required.

Mount Worth ward councillor Murray Cook, a council representative on the BAB, said the Walhalla & Mountain Rivers decision was disappointing and not the right approach to take to tourism planning and the sector needed to work together.


“I’m disappointed that Mountain Rivers is now picking up its board and going home,” he said.

“Working together is the only way forward [for tourism in Baw Baw].”

Walhalla has featured prominently in the council’s extensive Visit Baw Baw advertising campaign, which was introduced last year ahead of the new plan.

The branding and plan aim to make Baw Baw be seen as a region “widely known as a vibrant and attractive all-year tourism destination.”

Warragul ward councillor Joe Gauci said the consultation period meant the Visit Baw Baw branding strategy and the new plan could not be passed together last year.

“Last year they were able to come out with branding strategy,” he said.

“The tourism strategy was something that took a little bit longer.

“It’s a process that has been going on for years at the Baw Baw Shire Council.

“They (the BAB) formed a subcommittee to look at this further. The committee had a lot of options.

“It worked on it, came up with something that would suit our area as a whole, went back to the Business Advisory Board which approved it.”

Fellow Warragul ward councillor Mikaela Power said the plan also showed the council was listening.

“The aim of this is to guide the Baw Baw Shire Council’s efforts [in tourism],” Cr Power said.

“That’s what we’re aiming to do. It’s not perfect.

“I think we as council need to make sure we’re listening and hearing from the tourism sector in the shire.”

Councillors unanimously supported the adoption of the plan.

Tourism in Baw Baw created around 838 jobs in 2014 and contributed approximately $129.5 million to the region’s economy.

Council officers have identified visiting friends and family as the strongest market segment for Baw Baw.

The full Tourism Development Plan can be found in the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Download at

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4 responses to “Mountain Rivers quits Baw Baw boards to go it alone on tourism”

  1. You may wish to update the image you are using for this article. The current Walhalla Visitor Guide no longer includes the “Visit Baw Baw” logo and Baw Baw regional information was removed some months ago. The reason for this was that BBS provided no assistance for the Walhalla Visitor Guides so the membership of WMRT fully self-produces this publication now. The Tourism Development Plan includes motherhood statements like “council will empower the Local Tourism Associations”…yet when asked how they propose to do that there is no answer. Certainly providing money so LTAs can publish much utilised tourism collateral is not on the agenda. Unfortunately tourism development and promotion within the Baw Baw Shire area is being run entirely by council officers who have little tourism knowledge, who ignore advice when given [as it may be politically difficult], are totally focused on “structure” and “process” rather than actually doing something [sounds familiar?] and are sadly then backed up by councillors who foolishly just go along with what they say. The $80K+ of rate payers money spent on the “branding” has been essentially wasted because all indicators to results are so poor….but this is inconvenient so we’ll ignore the lack of results. WMRT doesn’t wish to be a rubber stamp for poor outcomes. BBS has achieved very little in tourism in 20+ years, while it would be nice to see a change, it’s unfortunately not on the horizon while it’s run the way it is by council officers.

  2. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the comment. If you could please supply an updated image for future use that would be great – the image above was taken from the PDF on your website today.

    All the best,

    Will Kulich

  3. Hi Will,

    Both issues now fixed. 2015 update of Walhalla Visitor Guide is now online if you wish to have a look. This was pretty much in this form from October 2014 and the guide was reprinted mid-March 2015 with some updates to listings. We are currently producing and distributing 20,000 copies of these Walhalla Visitor Guides annually. Not a bad effort from a small fully volunteer and self-funded tourism group hey? Cheers, Michael

  4. Daryl says:

    I just proves that there are a lot of government and local government departments that have no idea what they are talking about.