Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
By John Casey
Broken Hill will be positioned as the fourwheel drive capital of the nation if next month's ARB Australian Outback 4X4 Extreme event lives up to expectations.
Organisers say the annual off-r oad extravaganza will be the biggest of its type in the country and are predicting an economic spin-off of more than half a million dollars for the region in the first year alone.
And profits from the week-long event from May 7 to 13 will be directed to local charities, Broken Hill Legacy and Rotary.
With almost 40 teams nominated, including international entries from the USA and Venezuela, the event in expected to add up to 300 spectators on top of the local crowds.
"This is more than a four-wheel drive event, it is an opportunity to promote Broken Hill to the world as we will have international media coverage from day one," organiser Jason Gould said.
"A lot of people such as film makers and tourists already know how beautiful and extreme the terrain around Broken Hill is, but this event gives the city the opportunity to showcase that to a brand new audience.
"With the likes of respected international photographer Fred Krijsman here covering the event for a string of European magazines - along with national television exposure through 4WDTV - the sky is the limit," Mr Gould continued.
The promoters have been able to market the event as the richest of its type in Australia with more than $50,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs thanks to supporters like naming rights sponsor and automotive supplier ARB.
However, event organiser Alan Thys was quick to point out that substantial prizemoney was only part of the attraction for competitors and fans.
"For many four-wheel drive enthusiasts it's a case of having to travel hundreds of kilometres to find the variable types of terrain they are looking for, but the outback around Broken Hill has it all on its doorstep," Mr Thys said.
"Because of bureaucratic red tape it is getting harder and harder for these events to be staged, but with the tremendous support of local property owners and the can-do attitude of Broken Hill people we have the perfect mix.
The multi-stage event is effectively taking over from the now defunct 4X4 Outback Challenge which ran successfully in Broken Hill for more than a decade before the promoter discontinued the event after last year's edition.
"There is no doubt it will be the number one event of its type in Australia and we are very excited about what can be achieved in the future," Mr Gould said.
"Being organised and run by locals will also make sure that most of the economic benefits stay in the area with all monies raised being put back into the community through the range of projects undertaken by Legacy and Rotary.
"We have already secured the full backing of Broken Hill City Council and the Visitor Information Centre as they will benefit indirectly as well," he added.
The event will expose competitors to a diverse range of terrain over 20 gruelling stages including a spectacular night challenge at Stephens Creek and an exciting prologue event on a purpose-built circuit at the Broken Hill racecourse.
"Drivers will be provided with a new challenge every day and will be competing on a different property and terrain on a daily basis which will make for an exciting event," Mr Thys said.
Supplementary events such as a "Show and Shine" that will incorporate other motor vehicle enthusiasts including the BH Vintage Car Club in a mass exhibition have also been planned.
"The Vintage Car Club has really embraced the concept and already there has been expressions of interest from vintage car enthusiasts from interstate," Mr Gould added.
Full details of the event can be found at the website aus4x4extreme.com.au.