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"Hey mate, can you give me directions to the Country Music Capital?"

"No worries, cobber: just follow the Slim Dusty Way and you're there."

Community leaders in the region where farmboy-turned-chart-topping-musician Slim Dusty spent much of his boyhood are in the throes of establishing a themed tourist route in honour of the country music star.

Tamworth Regional Council's proposed Slim Dusty-themed tourist route will start on the remote dairy farm where Slim spent his youth shooting, fishing and strumming his guitar - at Nulla Nulla Creek in the hills behind Kempsey, New South Wales.

Back then, the boy was known as David Gordon Kirkpatrick, but changed his name to "Slim Dusty" when he began living is boyhood dream and entered the world of country music stardom.

The route would travel regions covered in a number of Slim’s songs including the Australian ballad 'When the Rain Tumbles Down in July'; and classics such as 'Old Bush Mates of Mine', 'Yellow Gully' and with wife Joy McKean 'Son of the Noisy Dan'. From Nulla Nulla Creek in the Upper Macleay Valley to the east coast via Port Macquarie and onto and then west across the Great Dividing Range through Wauchope, Walcha to Tamworth: all these areas were mentioned in his songs and all are to be included in the new route.

Tamworth City Council believes the community of Tamworth’s transformation into Australia's Country Music Capital was strongly supported by the icon himself. 

That's why a feasibility project is underway to have the route established; and as part of the project, Council is seeking possible opportunities to compile local stories and histories relating to Slim Dusty’s music and heritage. “We’re calling on members of the community who knew Slim to come forward with their stories and we’re a holding a series of open discussions and workshops on the proposed route,” says Council's Suzie Coulston.

The workshops are being facilitated by consultants developing a feasibility study of the proposed drive and this is your opportunity to provide direct input into the process.

Ms Coulston said workshops to be held next week and the week after will include discussions around the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed route, infrastructure and experiences, opportunities and threats to the community.Another important topic up for discussion will be the ways in which industry can utilise Slim Dusty's ‘brand’ strength whilst measuring visitor expectation and gauging the level of commitment from participants.

Details for meetings and workshops can be found on the Tamworth Regional Council website.

“The ‘Slim Dusty Way’ will build on Slim Dusty’s vision; to show visitors the real 'country Australia', its people, its places, its culture and Australian country music, now more popular than ever,” Ms Coulston said.The group of regional councils involved in establishing a themed tourist route in his honour are located along that path: they are Kempsey, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Walcha and Tamworth Councils.

Posted: Wednesday October 21, 2009 

Published: Oct 21, 2009 9:30am by philippa.

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