When severe drought hit Camden Park Station near Longreach in outback Queensland, the operational beef and sheep station, owned by the Walker family since 1962, was forced to de-stock. Third generation Daniel Walker, or Outback Dan as he is known, saw an opportunity to diversify the business into tourism.
I'm Daniel Walker. I own a small business called Camden Park Station and we're located at Longreach, Queensland.
They call me Outback Dan. Three years ago I started a tourist operation here at Camden Park Station. It's just a family run business, my wife, my mother, my dad, and my brother and his wife. Employees coming into it as we do contract people in. Yeah, enjoy the spirit that we sort of bring to our management style and leadership of the business.
So we have been able to take on the digital grant, Small Business Digital Grant least year, which saw us be able to give ourselves some credibility as far as social media, website design, and making a booking system.
I really enjoyed the experience and felt a challenge as well and it was making me learn a lot more and listen, which was a big thing, to what the customer actually wants and what their focus is.
We're losing that our connection to our heritage and our backyard. It's not as far out as people think, and there's still amenities here which can look after you.
Camden Park Station and the Walker family faced a difficult future in 2014 after prolonged drought forced them to completely destock their property. With tourism the region's second biggest industry behind agriculture, Daniel decided to jump on board and ensure the property's viability through tours and unique visitor experiences.
Daniel spent the 'off-season' in 2014 preparing the Station for tourists. He trialled tours, researched the market, formed relationships with suppliers and tourism operators, improved infrastructure and set up social media channels. In 2015, Camden Park Station was officially opened to visitors. While no profits were turned in the first year, positive customer feedback and online reviews saw Daniel pledge to keep the business going.
Camden Park Station offers visitors the opportunity to experience a working property, touring the homestead, shearing shed and cattle yards, as well as other historic and natural attractions on the property. Visitors can also walk in the footsteps of the Queen and Prince Philip, who visited the homestead nearly half a century ago.
It was a unique idea which really put Camden Park Station on the map. Built on Australia's Great Artesian Basin, the station's spring is used to not only provide water for stock, but as the venue for the Outback Yacht Club. Situated 700km from the ocean, the unusual concept has attracted international media attention. Visitors can enjoy a long lunch, evening sunset cocktails, competitive regatta or just a relaxing dip in the artesian spring.
With over 3,000 visitors to the station in 2017, the business was awarded an Outback Mates Award at the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards. With help from a Small Business Digital Grant, their social media and online presence has grown with great reviews. In the future, Camden Park Station feels a strong responsibility to connect city and country one person at a time. They are committed to helping the local economy by encouraging people to visit Queensland's proud backyard.