Shirley McNamara has been re-tracing the steps of great Australian pioneers for the last 20 years; bringing their stories to life in a series of travel books for modern explorers. She’s combined her love for Australian history (particularly the 1800s) with the growing demand for travel advice to facilitate a stronger connection between people and place. Above all, the work that Shirley and her team at Tourist Information Distributors Australia have done over the years is designed to make life easy for keen tourists. They’ve introduced a series of books that include features like fold-out maps and comprehensive lists of “what to see and do” while on the road. The latest of their projects details the dramatic Australian scenery of the famous Adelaide-to-Darwin route: Australia’s Explorers’ Way, a trail of over 3,000 kms.
“We talk about the history of the Stuart Highway route and everything along the way, including the Clare Valley, Burra and the Flinders Ranges. They’re all very interesting areas, and they have quite a unique history.”
The book equips tourists with all the information they need to amplify their road-trip experience, with everything from roadside stops, where to stay, what to see and do, where to eat and more. Travellers can enjoy the vastness of the Oodnadatta Track combined with the rugged scenery of the flinders Rangers, Central Australia, and all the places in between. One noteworthy figure in the Explorers Way edition is John McDouall Stuart—Australia’s most famous inland explorer who was the leading inspiration behind Shirley’s journey. John was the first European to make the Adelaide to Darwin commute through Australia’s centre, which is also how the route came to be known as the Stuart Highway.
“The first time we went up there we had explorer John McDouall Stuart’s journal, and we were following that as we went along.”
Shirley often finds herself captivated by the stories of people who did so much with so little; noting the luxury comfort of her caravan. She still continues to hit the road with her beloved dogs to embark on new projects for the business. Although, despite her great adventures, it’s clear that Shirley deeply appreciates the finer things in life. Walking the dogs, eating out with friends and family, and visiting local sights are among her favourite activities.
“I still love going to different attractions and having lunch at gorgeous little cafes, and just doing all the things that travellers do.”
One of the biggest issues Shirley has faced as a small business owner is keeping up with change in the industry. The vast majority of tourists have embraced the technological move, so the team have had to adapt by making their books accessible in both print and digital. Moving in this direction has actually simplified the process of content and information gathering for the team, but it took some professional guidance to get there. Shirley says that putting your pride aside and asking for help is the best way to overcome change. However, it’s also important to find people who understand, and care about your work.
“Just keep on keeping on and take advantage of all the expert advice available […] It’s also important that the people you approach are the type of people who will actually look after you.”
Shirley’s biggest problem was gaining exposure. She wasn’t sure how to effectively market Australia’s Explorer’s Way and make it accessible for the public to enjoy. The team had little experience with online engagement and were ready to take their business into the digital space to expand their potential market.
“We really needed the experts to help us create exactly what we were looking for.”
Marketing Sweet built Shirley an E-Commerce website that enables people to purchase both hard, and digital copies of her book online.
“I’m so happy with the website, and I found the Marketing Sweet team very creative and professional.”
The result is user-friendly and effectively serves it’s purpose. Shirley was thrilled that the team listened to her needs, and delivered something that truly combined her love for travel with modern innovation—a quality that’s important to the Tourism Distributors Australia Team.