Revving up for tourism
PETER Richardson is a plumber by trade, but he can see an untapped tourist market for Ballina which doesn't involve getting wet.
The Ballina man is the driving force behind Ballina Shire Council's production of a motorcycle touring guide, which was launched last week, and distributed via visitor information networks, with 4000 copies to be included in the December edition of The Australian Motorcyclist Magazine.
Peter said that at a time when tourism had been affected by shark activity, the guide offered another aspect to Ballina on top of water-based activities like fishing, surfing and swimming.
The guide has 18 rides throughout the region which begin and end in Ballina.
"We have so much to offer here that our local touring group thought, why don't we tap into the motorcycle market and sell the benefits of our region," he said.
"We have great rides, beautiful scenery, quality accommodation, food and retail outlets, plus it would be good for the local economy."
Peter has been riding motorbikes since he was 16, and now takes his BMW road bike weekly with the social group, the Latte Warriors.
The Warriors also head off on an annual trip, and Peter estimates they could spend $330 per day on fuel, accommodation, meals, parts, repairs and retail therapy.
A few years ago he saw a motorcycle guide based from Lithgow and approached the council with a similar idea for Ballina.
He said he simply wanted to "give something back" to a community he loves.
In March this year, the council revved up the idea and the Ballina Base Motorcycle Guide was printed.
Peter came up with the scenic rides, and they have been road-tested by the Latte Warriors.
They vary from a 92km ride to Brunswick Heads return via Byron Bay and a 146km ride to Evans Head return via Woodburn and Lismore, to a 575km ride to Glen Innes return via Grafton, Tenterfield and Casino.
Ballina is already well-known among the 2Wheel Babes all-female group which has held their Babe Raid in Ballina annually for five years now.
Peter "The Bear" Thoeming, the emeritus editor-in-chief of The Australian Motorcyclist Magazine, has written an introduction to the motorcycle guide.
He writes of his local connection to the area - his mother used to live in Ballina - and his familiarity with some of the local roads he describes as "bumpy".