The Northern Territory continues to enhance its appeal to business event planners with an exciting array of attractions, new products, spectacular festivals and industry strengths.

In mid-June, the 2019 BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown Supercar event is being held in Darwin for the 22nd time, annually attracting strong corporate support and delivering an adrenaline-filled add-on or stand-alone option for business events.

The event is held at the Hidden Valley Motor Sports Complex, approximately 15 minutes from the Darwin CBD.  A new $4.9 million Motor Sports House has been built at the track this year and includes a corporate conference and meeting facility.

Spectacular Kakadu National Park is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019.  The UNESCO World Heritage-listed natural wonder is home to the world’s oldest Indigenous rock art galleries and is marking this year’s milestone with a jam-packed events calendar.

On July 1, luxurious Banubanu Wilderness Retreat on Bremer Island, located in the Arafura Sea approximately 3.4 kilometres off the northeast corner of Arnhem Land, is set to re-open with a suite of upgrades. The property will include a new-look restaurant, plunge pool, and six eco safari tents. The island is renowned for its untouched beaches, lush tropical surrounds and abundant sea life and provides a boutique incentive or corporate retreat experience, with a specialisation in fishing excursions.

In late October, renowned artist Bruce Munro will open another spectacular installation which will be his largest-ever Australian exhibition. ‘Tropical Light’ will feature eight immersive large-scale light installations which will illuminate Darwin’s vibrant CBD and waterfront precincts.

2019 also sees the 90-year anniversary of the 1929 debut journey of the famed Ghan train from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Since 2004, this journey extended to Darwin and the luxury train continues to inspire and deliver iconic incentive experiences.  Ninety days of celebrations will take place through June, July and August, culminating in a special anniversary journey on August 4, 2019.

Industry strength

The NT Convention Bureau (NTCB) has recently undertaken a range of proactive initiatives that provided invaluable insights into the NT’s unique cuisine, culture and its priority business and industry strengths. These include, but are not limited to, agribusiness, health, land management, renewable energy, mining, oil and gas, culture, major events and tourism.

A recent familiarisation visit to Alice Springs was organised by the NTCB specifically for health sector event planners. The program not only showcased infrastructure and key attractions but also included visits to health sector specialists such as renal health and community care service, The Purple House and the iconic Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The visit also showcased NT culture, being timed to coincide with the opening of the 10-day Parrtjima – A Festival in Light which presented large-scale light installations, artworks, workshops, films and live music featuring some of Central Australia’s most celebrated Aboriginal artists.

The NTCB’s annual health famil program alternates each year between Darwin and Alice Springs, and seeks to highlight the NT’s impressive health sector capabilities in tropical, remote, rural and Aboriginal health, as well as emergency response.

Conference planners often mention the NT’s strengths when talking about their decision to take events to the Territory. The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases’ (ASID) Annual Scientific Meeting held at the Darwin Convention Centre in May this year highlighted how these specialisations can be an influencing factor in destination selection.

“In addition to 2019 being the Northern Territory’s turn to host the ASM, we believe it’s also an appropriate destination choice for our specialisation,” said Professor Josh Davis, president of ASID.

“Our conference has a strong focus on global and Aboriginal health, with infectious diseases also occurring in tropical regions.”

The 12th Biennial Australian Mangoes Conference, which was also held in Darwin in May, had specific relevance to the region, with the Northern Territory traditionally providing up to 48 per cent of Australia’s national crop.

“The proximity to regional locations allows us to provide an agricultural conference that has the best of both worlds,” said Kate Gowdie, conference manager with the Australian Mango Industry Association Ltd.

“Modern conference venues with adequate capacity and picturesque backdrops, as well as a booming horticulture and agricultural industry right on Darwin’s doorstep, with many local farms and businesses, all within an hour’s drive of the CBD.”

Another recent NTCB event was the four-day Darwin Showcase which focussed on cuisine and culture. The 15 delegates, who hailed from some of Australia’s largest capital cities, were astounded at the depth and variety of NT’s cuisine, which ranged from Aboriginal bush food tastings to modern, contemporary dining.

A memorable `Bushfood Breakfast’ hosted by Darwin’s award-winning Karen Sheldon Catering in the NT’s iconic Parliament House building was presented by trainees from the Accelerated Aboriginal Cooks of Excellence program.  The breakfast provided an interactive delegate experience and also offered a meaningful CSR option for a business event.

Cultural strengths were also a feature of the Australian Museums and Galleries Association Conference held in Alice Springs in May, which attracted 345 delegates to the Alice Springs Convention Centre. Conference opening and closing events were held at the nearby Araluen Arts Centre, where a bespoke staging of the renowned Desert Mob MarketPlace, a signature Aboriginal art fair, provided scope for invaluable interaction between artists and conference delegates.

For further information on business events in Australia’s Northern Territory, visit www.ntconventions.com

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