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By Tony Cunningham.

Now a part time resident of Victoria and Queensland, I was one of the many who visited Perth for the first Rally Australia. Unfortunately its remote location and the week off work to attend the event meant that watching it on the television became a less expensive alternative.

As attendances fell, Perth eventually chose not to host the event, but not before it achieved the reputation of being one of the best events on the WRC calendar. Of course there is nothing like being there so when the rally came to the east coast, I, like thousands of other fans, had to attend.

Having been a spectator at the recent rally in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, I’ve just finished reading the more than 90 page spectator guide covering the “WRC Rally” and “Speed on Tweed” events. (Loaded with local advertisers)

I went there to see the most talented drivers in the world demonstrate their craft to maybe 20,000 spectators but, like so many others, came away with a desire to visit this beautiful area again, this time as a paying guest.

I enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere of the locals and thank them for their generosity. My only disappointment for the weekend was a total disgust for the few selfish individuals that frequent the area and an overly furnished police presence there to keep the rabble at bay.

As the weekend progressed their verbal taunts and rude signage became more and more aggressive, no doubt trying to provoke a physical response from the innocent public. Almost totally ignored by the visitors, they eventually broke the law by obstructing traffic and endangering themselves and the motorists.

I myself suffered a near accident on my way into Kyogle when an old Subaru wagon pulled out from an intersection, almost stopping in front of my car, forcing a dangerous panic stop. I avoided the double lines that I was perhaps supposed to cross to be witnessed by the gentleman conveniently sitting next to the intersection. The Subaru then had me follow him at 10 kph for about a kilometre before pulling off the road. A coincidence, or maybe how some locals drive?

These uninformed do-nothing idiots have damaged Australia’s image in a medium second only to Formula I. I say do-nothing because their operational plans seem to suggest sitting on their butts whining while choosing to drive diesel 4x4s and petrol powered cars.

Had they turned up on bicycles, hybrid or electric cars or even on foot, we could have taken them seriously.

My opinion;

Like the rest of Australia our duly appointed governments will do anything they can to attract trade to remote regional areas.

While many of the protesters have given up on society, most of their neighbours are hard working individuals struggling to make ends meet.
While we all respect their right to free speech they don’t have carte blanche over who gets to visit the region.

At the lunch-time service point in Kyogle one of the local service clubs told me they’d run out of food three times and were struggling to keep up with the demand for snags, steak and drinks. The positive effect of the visitors will outlast any negatives.

Rally visitors bring an enormous influx of cash as well as promote the regions they use for their well organised events. It is in their interest to create a positive image and respect the communities they visit. What image will crews and teams from all over the world take with them when they return home?
Those I’ve spoken to loved the people and the area and were angry at the selfish rabble that tried to ruin everyone else’s pleasure.

The wilderness belongs to everyone and will survive if those who say they care start by promoting an alternative we can all be proud of, instead of sitting around planning ways to get their face on the telly.

I can finally say, Losers!

* The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author, and not necessarily those of RallySport Magazine.
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