Life Travel Home truth about the road to adventure: It could be just around the corner

Home truth about the road to adventure: It could be just around the corner

Regional tourism
Regional tourism in Australia is booming as travellers, especially younger ones, seek unique experiences. Photo: Steam/Riparide
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Australians are increasingly turning to their own backyards for holidays, choosing destinations and experiences rich in natural beauty and gourmet produce.

Tourism Australia’s latest report into the market shows a 5.7 per cent year-on-year increase in Australians trekking down the road for their breaks. Last year, there were 48.5 million visitor more nights spent in regional areas than in 2015.

What’s driving the trend? Tourism Australia says there’s a hunger from younger travellers for down-to-earth experiences.

“With millennials being the next wave of travellers, their intense global demand for travel experiences that resonate on a deeper emotional level is also driving travel brands to develop product that is more adventurous, more personalised, and more attuned to local culture; inspiring consumers toward a path of self-discovery,” the report says.

It’s a trend Marlon Law tapped into six years ago when he launched Riparide – a share-economy travel platform that focuses on unique properties and experiences, in regional Australia.

Mr Law said his hope for the company is to be a way for people to unplug, relax and reconnect with nature.

“We position our regional backyards as places for short-escapes to slow down, disconnect and find fulfilling moments,” he told The New Daily.

“We highlight the stunning natural wonders, wide-open spaces, exciting activities, soul-warming food and wine, scenic drives, fewer crowds and unique adventures all within easy reach for a short city escape.”

Mr Law started the company in his home state of Victoria, and just last year expanded into New South Wales.

Within five years, he predicts it will be a global booking platform.

The first Riparide listings were varied, from a tipi at Bells Beach, to a Kombi Camper for road trips to a hand-built Loft near Wilson Prom. And the offerings have only grown.

It’s not just cottages and country homes available to rent through the platform – there’s glamping in yurts, renovated vintage caravans, eco homes, tree houses. Oh, and plenty of outdoor baths.

In Victoria’s Otways region, there’s a 1930s steam train cottage that’s been converted into a three-bedroom studio, known as Steam. The carriage was taken off the tracks in the early 1980s, before being bought for $400 and sent from Melbourne to the tiny town of Forrest, famed for its mountain bike trails.

Now it’s a noted part of the Forrest landscape – it’s known by all the locals and the surrounding towns too.

This is where Riparide introduces a feature that differentiates it from the rest of the booking platforms.

It invites guests to book an experience package, rather than just a place to stay. It does this through a travel stories feature, curated by real guests.

Steam might be a renovated train carriage, but so many of its original features have been built into the makeover. Photo: Riparide

For example, the Steam story tracks a weekend of walking through towering forests, cruising along the Great Ocean Road and a pint or two at the nearby micro-brewery.

“The stories our storytellers share have many authentic experiences you can live out, from sound healing to finding hidden waterfalls to surprise animal encounters,” Mr Law said.

“Stories really help people to discover all the incredible experiences they can add to their escapes.”

The New Daily was a guest with Riparide.

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