The 2014 Alice Stampede mega-familiarisation event held at Alice Springs in early July has drawn accolades from the association, corporate and event planner participants who came from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Hobart and Auckland.

The four-day event is a joint initiative of the Alice Springs Convention Centre (ASPCC) and the Northern Territory Convention Bureau (NTCB), and is now in its third year.

CEO of the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute, Roger Buckley, said the hospitality and friendliness of suppliers, hotels and the locals was just unbeatable! “They are rightly proud of what they have here in Alice Springs. The ASPCC catering team have been with us everywhere and their friendly approach and service delivery has been just excellent. Hat’s off to everyone involved with this fantastic famil of Alice Springs.”

The famil itinerary was designed to showcase the cultural, business and quirky aspects of Alice. The opening welcome party at the historic Telegraph Station was one of the program highlights. Located just minutes from town, it provided the perfect location for the staging of a mini Henley-on-Todd Regatta in the dry river bed, with guests first undertaking a leisurely cycle to the venue aboard a fleet of mountain bikes, courtesy of Outback Cycling.

At the conclusion of the regatta, a market-style al fresco dinner was set up on the lawns of the Telegraph Station by the off-site catering team from the Alice Springs Convention Centre. Guests were summoned by the infectious beat provided by the Indigenous children’s drumming group, Drum Atweme, who also engaged individual famil participants in dance. Brief product presentations were then provided by a range of Alice Springs operators, including the Telegraph Station, Tjanpi Desert Weavers and also Outback Quad Tours, who set up displays highlighting the depth of experiences available in Alice Springs.

A special surprise came when participants were fitted for their very own Akubra hat at the Akubra Fitting Station, providing not only a relevant Central Australia memento but also a practical gift worn for the duration of the famil. Rex Neindorf and his ‘reptile pals’ from the Alice Springs Reptile Centre also roamed around making friends with the guests, providing many with their first face-to-face encounter with a python, a goanna, a lizard and a cheeky bearded dragon. Rex is one of the NT’s celebrated wildlife characters and regularly conducts mobile reptile shows at conferences and events around Alice Springs.

Another feature of the Alice Stampede program was the Business Forum staged at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, where five local speakers talked passionately about “their” Alice Springs. Ruth Hirst, from Sydney-based Synergy Events, presented on her client’s conference staged in Alice Springs in 2013, providing ‘Stampeders’ with invaluable insights into the many benefits of holding an event in The Alice.

A day at the races ‘Alice Springs-style’ took guests to the world-renowned Camel Cup, where they enjoyed lunch in the well-appointed Lasseters ‘Camel-Cage’ marquee. The previous day, participants had enjoyed their own, much more sedate camel ride 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 all look just so easy.

The famil was perfectly timed to coincide with the near-completion of the A$40 million Lasseters redevelopment. At a roving cocktail function, famil participants gained an exclusive sneak preview of the new hotel reception area, extensive health and fitness club, Day Spa and new poolside café, all of which are due to open at the beginning of August. Participants also stayed in the nearby five-star 66 room hotel wing which opened in mid-2012.

Other Alice activities included hot air ballooning over the stunning desert landscape, a nightcap at Overlander’s Steakhouse, a visit to Alice Springs Desert Park, as well as a range of hotel site inspections.

An impressive ‘Central Australia Art Dinner’ was creatively staged in the MacDonnell Room at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, whilst the spectacular rocky escarpments of The Quarry provided the venue for Stampede’s finale evening under the stars.