5 minutes with a Darwin event expert

The AA&P Events team with their MEA Award.

CIM spoke with AA&P Events managing director Natalie Bell about winning Event of the Year (Special Event or Incentive) at the Meetings & Events Australia National Awards for their Darwin Amazing Race Experience (DARE).

How did you showcase Darwin’s history in a short space of time? Darwin has a rich and diverse history and our development into the city we are today has been influenced by so many factors – from the early colonial arrivals, to our military history and the bombing of Darwin, through to the strong multicultural influences of large Chinese and Greek communities that were early settlers in Darwin, our proximity to Asia and of course our rich Indigenous history.

We partnered with a selection of local venues, experiences and tourism providers to customise a 30-minute experience and deliver and interactive insight into Darwin, its history and importantly for this group, showcase our incredible city as ‘a must do’ destination.

How did you incorporate Darwin’s Indigenous culture into the event? One of the highlights of DARE was the opportunity for delegates to taste traditional bush tucker in the blind folded taste testing at Aboriginal Bush Traders. We also provided information and insights into the importance and significance of the Aboriginal culture in Darwin throughout the Walk Darwin tour.

What do you feel visitors expect from Darwin? I think most people are surprised on their first visit Darwin – they don’t expect it to be such a vibrant, lively and contemporary city. There is so much to see and do in Darwin, and with places like Litchfield and Kakadu on our doorstep, there is endless potential for incredible experiences for groups and travellers coming to the Territory.

What are the key elements that inspire you about Darwin? There’s a genuineness to Territory people, and it’s very laid back and relaxed. But in saying that, it’s also a place full of opportunity and potential – where if you work hard you will be rewarded.

Our local cuisine is influenced by a beautiful melange of cultures – we have everything from authentic Italian and modern Korean, through to contemporary Australian and traditional Greek cuisine. Bush foods are starting to feature highly throughout conference and incentive programs too. Our proximity to Asia means we have a strong Asian influence in our cuisine – we have world famous markets such as the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets and the Parap markets. If you visit Darwin, you have to spend time at the markets.

Darwin’s waterfront is undergoing a major redevelopment – will that open up more event spaces? Definitely. The Darwin waterfront is an incredible space for events and incentive activities. In addition to the Darwin Convention Centre, there is gorgeous green space, the Adina and Vibe Hotels, an incredible array of restaurants and of course the wave pool and lagoon. The industry is looking forward to the addition of the Westin Hotel and the value this will add to our ability to better service a high end/luxury market.