Peter Homan knows more than most, the importance of the ultimate celebration with all your friends and family…. the wedding!

As the CEO of Southern Queensland Tourism, he is always interested in promoting the local destinations, local industry vendors and the attractions which keep guests exploring the areas before or after the actual wedding celebrations.  “I think that’s the reason why you have a wedding is to share your special day with so many”.

However, when it all goes pear-shaped and COVID comes in, you can’t do stuff like that. Honestly, there seems to be big interest currently in eloping, and then having a big party later on when COVID allows it.  Circumstances change, and weddings change to accommodate.

Remembering those fun or chaotic moments of your wedding is not limited to the young. Though wedding styles change, the fun of family and friends celebrating together is timeless.

Peter shared memories of his wedding:

We had a great wedding, my then wife and I, we got married at Bulli Point. It’s overlooking Wollongong so it’s high up and you’re actually looking over the beaches along the Wollongong coastline and there’s a famous hotel there called the Panorama House Hotel-it’s been there for 100 years, we got married there. I think it’s since been pulled down but it’s a very famous spot in the south coast of Sydney.

After many drinks and they’ve got accommodation there, my friends have pulled their golf bags out of their cars and started teeing off the cliff. So that was quite a lot of fun but it was a really good place to get married, we all had a lot of fun. We all had to drive there so that made sense to stay there, there were some complications around that but….

There’s a great Norman Gunston story about that as well. So you remember when he had his TV show, it’s really steep going from the top of that peak right down to the bottom where you go down to the beaches, and he was actually doing a live report. And he said there are a lot of car crashes because the cars and trucks would lose their brakes as they got further down the hill.  There was a truck turn where there was a real truck turned over between two houses and Norman said, you know, he said, “I’m so happy to record”, he said, “After three hours”, he said, “You know this truck’s careered down the hill and it’s smashed in between those two houses – one owned by the Smiths and one owned by the Balls, “I’m so happy to report that truck driver was finally pulled out by the Smiths.”

It was very funny, very funny, but it was a real incident, but you know obviously that being cleaned up anyway, that was at the bottom of the hill where we are. So I am obviously not a Toowoomba boy, and then I moved to Noosa. And I was there for a long time and then went and ran the tourist organization in the Outback and then I came here. I was ready for a move when I was asked to take this region on, and the potential here is unlimited.

Kim Cahill from ToowoombaDarlingDowns.com.au shared her news. Now there is a Wedding Industry Collaboration group working towards formulating a wedding destination package for Toowoomba as a nationally recognised location for quality and diversity tapping in to its High-Country locations and amazing local producers and suppliers.  No need to look beyond the Range.

Peter continued his thoughts – I’m loving Toowoomba and its parks, you know, beautiful gardens fresh air, it’s a metropolis, it’s got everything you need – But, without being too busy. Yeah, so the only thing it doesn’t have is a beach but, you know, I’m actually not at that age where I want to go get sandy, or go to the beach every day. The community is really strong here and I think that’s a really powerful thing.

So what is the Southern Qld Country tourism vision?

Oh, that’s a really good point so the vision is to continue to build capacity within region and to continue to build the product and I guess, give people awareness of the really good things that come up here.  Carnival of Flowers is a perfect example of people coming to an area and just being blown away. But not just experiencing the flowers – they want to go and experience all the other good things. The national parks, walkways, the hiking paths. And it really showcases a region and you don’t get, you know, there’s many flower events but this one is the one that’s special to most people.

Apart from that, what other events and what other attractions, if we’re looking at a destination package around weddings. It’s not just the actual wedding and the vendors that are associated with that, but it’s all of the periphery.

I think one of the great things about the area is the capacity to put big events on, there’s lots of accommodation in town, there’s not a lot of national hotels, but there’s also some boutique accommodation so the capacity’s there to employ local staff. So from a business point of view about putting on lots of wedding packages, there’s lots of really good venues. The food offerings are fantastic so the products of the area is really good. Not even just from this immediate area but right just in the peripheral areas, whether it be from Lockyer Valley or even just you know in the western downs a bit, or the ones that have been grown in the Granite Belt, there’s some of the best wines in the world now and 25 years ago there was some of the worst. So they’ve improved immensely. and I think if you’re if you’re coming to a region to get married all of those things add up to a lot, and I think the venues are really first class, the offerings are great, the staff are well trained, and they’re very active, that’s another good thing.

Apart from the month-long September Carnival activities, and that’s kind of also the wedding season, the rest of the year fills the events calendar in this the region that I represent. There is a wide variety – the region’s activity is really rich and deep there’s a lot of car events, a lot of horsepower events. There’s lots of craft events like Jumpers and Jazz which incorporates art and music, and I was down there on the weekend and Warwick has an amazing lot to offer. Also lots of events around produce so BaconFest up in Kingaroy, Hampton High Country, the avocado festival – delicious.  There’s lots of really good powerful events around around food and wine, and not so many music events which is great because in some areas that all knowing all the events of just music, and it’s, you know you can only have so many and you can go to a pub and listen to music or you can listen to it on at home on your iPad. You know I think it’s got to have something more than music. This area is rich in events, rich, rich, rich.

I’ve got a real theory about that and I think there’s the opportunity to bring more events here but there’s events in this region, that could do with a lot more love, so rather than bringing new events in, I think there’s some events here that have got the bones that only just need a bit more love to bring them up into a much bigger event.  But there’s no reason why you wouldn’t bring more events in, as long as it fits within the calendar properly, and as long as it’s not giving everyone fatigue about going to an event that sort of similar to something else that’s going on, right.  Location and good transport facilities like the Wellcamp Airport make it an attractive, easily accessible centre.

If you want to start an event for Highfields, the first thing that comes to mind would be something related to art.

Really good successful events are going to be around art, spin it around here and I think there’s so many opportunities, whether it be around body art or chalk art or, or just art in general I think arts culturally are strong, whether it’s been an art trial or whether it be a we range of other things I think there’s some really good opportunities around that and this seems to be the right fit here in this area.

So, yeah – let’s grow the region!