By CAITLIN CROWLEY
ROMA’S iconic Big Rig is about to become an even bigger tourist attraction for the Maranoa region, with a new observation tower and tree walk opening to the public with a community celebration this weekend.
The Big Rig Tower is now the Maranoa’s tallest building at 40m high, offering sweeping 360 degree views of Roma and the country beyond, connected to a 100m tree walk for locals and tourists alike to explore.
“One of the benefits is the amazing view of the town from up there and how far you can see,” Maranoa Mayor Tyson Golder said.
“It’s pretty fantastic – well worth going and having a look. Everything looks pretty small, it’s a beautiful aspect.”
The council project received funding from the state government’s Outback Tourism Infrastructure Fund and was forecast to increase visitation by more than 50 percent, helping grow the local economy by $3.3 million annually.
Tourism has become an increasingly important pillar of the outback economy, particularly through years of drought.
“It puts a base under the community in our winter season and really with the droughts we’ve had in the past, it really keeps country towns going,” Cr Golder said.
“People have said to me, they just would not have survived without it, in that winter period.
“Any increase is good for the community, it’s good for jobs and businesses and so forth and it does have a flow on effect.”
While the Big Rig Tower was built as a tourist attraction, Cr Golder said there’d been strong demand from the local community to use its 195 stair climb for exercise and training.
“Council will look at making it available for people to use it for exercise, so it’s got some unintended benefits for the community,” he said.
Locals will have their first chance to ‘Run the Rig’ this Saturday morning, with the tower opening at 6.30am to those keen to scale the steps as a warm-up for Roma Park Run at 7am.
Saturday’s community celebration begins at midday at the Big Rig Parklands, with food trucks, markets and live music through until sunset.
There’s free admission to the Big Rig Oil Patch Museum, Tower and Tree Walk all weekend, for more information head to Council’s website.