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Obama drama over itinerary

An artist’s impression of the surfing leg of President Obama’s Northern Rivers tour.
An artist’s impression of the surfing leg of President Obama’s Northern Rivers tour. Isobel Rogers

TWEED Tourism has snubbed Nimbin and the rest of the Northern Rivers by putting only Tweed destinations on a proposed itinerary for US President Barack Obama’s visit next month.

Tweed Tourism boss Phil Villiers yesterday upped the ante in a tongue-in-cheek push to have the leader of the free world spend some time on the North Coast by sending a proposed itinerary for Mr Obama’s visit – expected some time late March.

But after last week recommending the President stay away from Nimbin, raising the ire of the village’s residents and triggering a push to have the President visit the village, Mr Villiers has again given the Northern Rivers’ most colourful village – along with the rest of the region – the cold shoulder.

The idea of Mr Obama visiting Nimbin has won strong support with The Northern Star’s online readers.

A web-poll run on Tuesday found 70 per cent of respondents supported the idea.

The itinerary sent by Tweed Tourism includes a helicopter tour over Mt Warning and surrounds, followed by a rainforest drive and short walk, lunch at Mavis’ Kitchen at the base of the mountain, then a surf lesson with world champion surfer Mick Fanning.

Mr Villiers said he had received a ‘polite’ reply from Tourism Australia’s global public relations manager, Kerry I’Anson, saying the proposed itinerary had been passed on to the US team co-ordinating Mr Obama’s visit.

Although pleasantly surprised, Mr Villiers said he still regarded the chances of a presidential visit as ‘pie-in-the-sky’.

Northern Rivers Tourism chief executive Russell Kelly defended Mr Villiers’ failure to include a trip to Nimbin on the itinerary, pointing out the Tweed Tourism manager’s job was to promote the Tweed – not Nimbin.

However, Mr Kelly said Northern Rivers Tourism strongly supported both Tweed’s push to have Mr Obama fly over the Green Cauldron and Lismore’s push to have the President make a stop in Nimbin.

“If this does happen, it would be a miracle,” Mr Kelly said.

“But if he came to Tweed or Lismore we (Northern Rivers Tourism) would like to be the bridge to make sure he visits both.”

Proposed itinerary:

  • Arrive at Brisbane or Gold Coast Airport
  • Scenic helicopter flight over Australia’s Green Cauldron, largest shield volcano in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Land at Mavis’ Kitchen at the base of Mt Warning
  • Drive (6km) through the World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia to Wollumbin (Mt Warning) National Park
  • Welcome by traditional owners
  • Short (200m) interpretive walk through the rainforest, with indigenous and NP guides, highlighting the spiritual significance and unique biodiversity of the mountain
  • Return to Mavis’ Kitchen for lunch
  • Helicopter flight to Rainbow Beach for a surfing lesson with reigning World Champion, Mick Fanning at the Snapper Superbank.

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