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Victoria’s high country gives up its secrets

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Tourism North East (TNE), the organisation charged with boosting visitation to Victoria’s high country, today launched a campaign in which they promise to share little known secrets locals have closely guarded.

Think secret swimming holes, little known walking trails and epic Instagram spots.

In a twist on the usual laundry list of facilities and attractions, TNE CEO Bess Nolan-Cook says they have established a website and produced a short film called You didn’t hear it from me… TNE will progressively reveal more secrets over the coming summer season to help boost the local visitor economy.

Already a popular weekend retreat, the high country, 90 minutes from Melbourne, boasts iconic mountain scapes seen in the film The Man From Snowy River, but would also like to lift its profile as a weekday business event destination.

“Personal events have come back really strongly but when it comes to professional events I would suggest it is quite sporadic. And that is also partly to do with the fact that we are that little bit further from Melbourne,” says Nolan-Cook.

“There are so many facilities across the region whether you are looking at Milawa, Falls Creek, Mt Buller, Mansfield – incredible facilities – and I could not recommend it highly enough. It is great to get your team out. There’s also some really fantastic activities to do in and around a business event as well.

Post-COVID staffing the tourism sector remains a challenge and it is hoped the quirky campaign might appeal to those about to leave school.

“It is definitely still a very live issue in terms of workforce attraction and retention,” says Nolan-Cook.

“I think there’s very much a future in tourism and I would encourage any young people who are interested in it…it is a great career path, there’s so much diversity within the industry itself whether it is tours, attractions, hospitality…there’s a lot of choice.

“And it is an incredibly rewarding industry as well…we’re in the business of making memories and creating joy, which is just such a privilege.”

Details of the secrets campaign are contained in a short film produced by the organisation, available on the Victorian High Country destination website.   

“We are partnering with Moonlight Cinema in Sydney and Melbourne over the summer, and they will play our short film – You didn’t hear it from me… before each film session,” she says.

Clearly, we love a secret, whether it is a little known destination, a unique experience, the best coffee spot or a stunning food or wine offering, all of which are certainly available in the Victorian high country and are of interest to meeting and event planners as much as they might appeal to a leisure visitor.

Originally from Beechworth, Nolan-Cook moved back to the region with her family in 2020.

“I’ve got a very deep connection to the high country and I’m very passionate about the region,” she says.

But will she give up a local secret and risk the ire of her neighbours when it becomes an Instagram hit?

“We’re not giving away every secret,” she says, but volunteers her own best kept local secrets.

“My personal secret is a dessert at Brown Brothers winery in Milawa – chicken skin with chocolate.”

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