Academic journal article Nebula

Swan Valley Sideways: Economic Development through Taste and Tourism in Western Australia

Academic journal article Nebula

Swan Valley Sideways: Economic Development through Taste and Tourism in Western Australia

Article excerpt

Problems attend the development of Perth's creative industries and city imaging. A lack of vision, money and expertise are three barriers blocking the development of an overarching and horizontally integrated strategy between diverse economic and social sectors. However, another key weakness is the excessive policy attention to Perth's Central Business District. It is--as with many modern cities--a dead centre.


The impact of this dead centre is that the suburbs become more important to economic development, social cohesion and the building of identity. The majority of Perth's population hugs the coast and creates clusters of community from Mandurah to Mindarie Keys. The water is blue. The shopping is adequate for both the weekly grocery shop and the occasionally extravagant purchase. Most employees are drawn from local or nearby suburbs. The more that urban planners, report writers and taskforces stress the need to enliven the CBD, the more likely it is that residents open another bottle of wine, sizzle up a cutlet of salmon and enjoy the suburbs.

This article enacts a cultural mapping of Perth's urban wine industry, showing the potential and challenges to future economic development. It is argued that local and state government initiatives have disconnected from industry-based, entrepreneurial event management. Innovative links between music, food, wine and tourism have been created in the Swan Valley and are unrecognized in governmental strategic plans and vision statements. To begin this new project that connects top-down and bottom-up initiatives requires investment and infrastructure in tourism and transportation. The film Sideways is used as a trigger, model and mode of development. The often unexpected relationship between popular culture and wine marketing shown by Sideways is particularly appropriate for the Swan Valley in Western Australia. Instead of a film creating the basis of growth in the wine industry, in Perth it is popular music that is providing the innovative engine for development. The Swan Valley is an evocative location to consider wine tourism, wine media and the challenges of managing difference and specificity within the international creative industries literature.

Sub/urban development

Wave after wave of theorists, planners and consultants label Perth as behind the times, pre-urban, dated and most significantly (cold shiver) suburban. For example, Charles Landry was brought in by Form, the Perth-based not for profit organization, for a two year consultancy. He presented one cultural mapping of the city.

   Last weekend I criss-crossed over 350 kilometres of Perth from the
   Eastern suburbs to the Western in search of a speck of urbanity. I
   do not denigrate the delights of suburbia, but Perth has 98% of it.
   The suburban washes over metro Perth like an endless patina as the
   swathes of asphalt covered to get there dull the senses. How about
   80% suburbia and 20% of the truly urban to start with? You see a
   touch in Subiaco, East Perth, Fremantle, Mount Lawley. But where
   else? (1)

Charles Landry moved from east to west looking for urbanity. What he missed was a wine territory within half an hour of a capital city and, neighbouring to its west, one of the most pristine stretches of public beaches in the world. In looking for a particular form of urbanity, the distinctiveness and diversity of landscape was missed.

In Perth, recent summits and talkfests have attempted to create a new vision for Perth. LandCorp 2030 featured Richard Weller, Professor of Architecture at the University of Western Australia, who argued that, "Perth had to look around the world at other thriving cities, decide what type of metropolis it wanted to be, and follow a design to make it happen." (2) While architects and planners are waiting for city modelling to take place, perhaps it already has. It may not feature the steel and chrome of Manchester's lofts or the bohemian chic of North Beach in San Francisco. …

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