Charity takes out town websites

Rural Aid holds town websites for tourism

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Rural Aid is holding websites representing a number of bush towns - but the councils know nothing about it.

Touring Tambo in search of teddy bears? On the hunt for the Cunnamulla fella? Tourists who turn to google search may instead find themselves re-directed to contact Rural Aid charity mogul Charles Alder instead.

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CHARITY LOOKS TO TOURISM: An image from the Farm Aid site www.visiteulo.com.au

CHARITY LOOKS TO TOURISM: An image from the Farm Aid site www.visiteulo.com.au

The multi-million dollar charity, best know for its Buy a Bale campaign, has set up a number of town tourism websites without input from the towns themselves.

Copyrighted to Rural Aid 2019, and stating "A Rural Aid Ltd Initiative Supporting Rural Tourism" the sites contain minimal information on the towns, often limited to a cover photo and small blurb about the community.

While each site encourages users to upload photos, attractions, local business and news, contact details of the attractions currently loaded in lead back to either Farm Aid charity CEO Charles Alder's personal mobile or a temporary account.

The domains, or web addresses, for the sites all follow the same naming pattern, for example www.visitmungindi.com.au

When contacted by Australian Community Media Mr Alder said the websites were part of a community development program, however as yet he had not contacted the shires or town progress societies.

"The idea has been to help support these rural communities by working with them to develop tourism opportunities," he said.

"We will [contact them] when we get to those places.

"But at the moment it was just that they were available and we took some of them to then work with the communities when we got to them."

Websites operated by Rural Aid located by Australian Community Media include Queensland towns Alpha, Atherton, Augathella, Barcaldine, Beaudesert, Bedourie, Biloela, Birdsville, Blackall, Bollon, Boonah, Burketown, Camooweal, Charleville, Clermont, Cunnamulla, Dirranbandi, Eulo, Gatton, Hebel, Jondaryan, Ilfracome, Julia Creek, Jundah, Kuranda, Miles, Mitchell, St George and Tambo along with Mungindi, New South Wales.

Mr Alder said the sites were not linked to the official tourism sites of www.visitQueensland.com.au or www.visitNSW.com.au despite the similarity of name.

"We took them two years ago, which was well before a number of those places took up that idea," he said.

"There were just some domains available, that is all."

When questioned about contact details for attractions, such as the Mungindi NSW pool which included his contact details, Mr Alder said that was an error.

"There not even meant to be on there I don't think," he said.

Mr Alder said while the sites had digital advertising on them, earning money was not the purpose for the sites and if the towns wanted the domain addresses back he would transfer them.

"We are not in the business of selling them, we would just give it to them," he said.

Mr Alder said each domain cost about $7 to $8 to purchase at the time.

Rural Aid is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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