The obvious place is visitors’/tourist centres, or on line. A number of places even have their own apps giving out information on what’s happening and what to see. Google “Sydney tourist information” and you get 30,200,000 hits.
How helpful is this really?
I love visitors’ centres, and tourist centres, and have whiled away (and I had to look up that phrase to see if it was correct) many an hour looking through exhibitions of local arts and crafts, history, produce, and things to see and do. They’re also often staffed by volunteers who are there purely and simply because they love where they live and love to tell people about it.
Sometimes I’ve felt that I learned so much at the visitors centre I didn’t really need to see the town itself! And sometimes the visitors’ centre was the best part of the town.
On the other hand, a visit to a tourism centre in Sydney elicited the (completely wrong) information that if I wanted any Aboriginal experiences I would have to go to the outback. There was nothing like that in Sydney!
You can also get a lot of information on-line. I usually do some basic on-line research before I go away to get basic information on places and devise some sort of travel route. When I get closer I go on-line to find out the best places to stay.
But visitors’ centres, visitors’ guides, and official on-line resources can have a major drawback – many of them publicise places and services that pay for it. Many of the places in brochures or those placed prominently at the front of the counter are paid advertising. I guess the centres have expenses they have to cover, even if their staff are volunteers.
Even I’m not averse to getting paid advertising or sponsored blogs, but I will always tell you when anything is being paid for on my site.
One of my favourite sources of on-line information is social media, especially twitter. I love twitter.
Through twitter I’ve connected with people all around the world, and all around Australia. Because of connections I’ve made I’ve visited outback places I wouldn’t otherwise know about, and experienced things that only locals know, like where to get the best coffee.
Through twitter I also did an interview with ABC Radio in Broken Hill on a trip out there. And through that I made lots of other rural and outback connections. It’s an endless circle!
But if you want the real low down on a place, nothing beats the local pub. Sit at the bar with a drink (even a lemon squash if you don’t drink alcohol) and you’ll get the who’s who and what’s what about the town. And meet many of the locals as well.
I’ve also whiled away the hours in many outback pubs, the Booli pub in NSW and Middleton Hotel in outback Queensland being two memorable ones.
And unlike twitter, in a pub you don’t have to limit your conversations to 140 characters at a time!