The Melbourne Branch High Country Odyssey was enjoyed by all who attended but the attendance numbers led to the committee having to consider whether or not it is viable for the branch to continue to run the event.
A motion was passed that it was not viable for the branch to continue to run the Odyssey in its current format and that the branch consider the format, location and date of any future odyssey at the branch annual general meeting in February 2012.
This caused the committee some angst as the High Country Odyssey has been an enjoyable and successful event since it started a dozen years ago thanks to the great work of the instigators of the event and the subsequent organising committees and volunteers.
Attendance numbers have been steadily declining over the past 5 years to the stage where it was run at a considerable financial loss to the branch this year. There are many factors which may have caused this including the financial events affecting many since the GFC, the continued use of the same venue, accommodation costs for a long weekend in a time of high demand at Mansfield, a desire for a change from people who had regularly attended and other factors.
It has been put to me that the event was not advertised sufficiently and whilst that is possible, I do not accept that is the major reason for the decline in numbers which had become obvious over the past few years. The event was advertised in the May "Riding On"Magazine and unfortunately missed being repeated in the August Riding On due to an oversight or misunderstanding as I believed the request was accepted for both publications. It was also put to me that flyers should have been handed out to attendees at other events and on rides. The event was in fact highlighted on both the national and branch websites (and very prominently on the Melbourne Branch site) for most of 2011 and also included in the ride calendars of both websites plus being advertised in our "Spare Tyre" magazine. I note that well over 400 people viewed the advertisement on the branch website.
Just 2 weeks prior to the event, approximately 45 people had registered to attend the odyssey and about 20 of those were people involved in running the event. Despite support from the local tourism authority and raffle income, costs such as marquee, coolroom and bus hire for such relatively small numbers make a continuation in the current format unviable and the committee feels that it would be irresponsible to continue without change.
Subject to approval of members attending the AGM, it is felt that a new venue, format and possibly date be considered. Cup weekend or two weeks earlier are dates being considered.
Discussion on the future of a branch odyssey is invited by posting on this forum or sending messages to me or committee members.
One member has highlighted the virtues of Tallangatta as a venue. It has great riding roads in the vicinity, but another branch already has its annual event there, we sometimes do an overnight ride there and I personally feel reluctant to infringe upon or overlap the arrangements of another branch.
A suggestion was made that consideration be given to sharing a Victorian odyssey between different branches from year to year or perhaps having an odyssey jointly run by several branches. As numerous branches in Victoria already have annual events, I foresee problems in trying to consistently run an event in such a manner.
Quite a bit of discussion has centred around considering a much simpler event. For example selecting a venue with a good size camp kitchen and a variety of accommodation north of the Great Divide in view of Spring weather and to make it feasible for interstate visitors.
I do encourage feedback, discussion or comments in a positive vein to enable the branch to continue to provide events so that members an continue to enjoy the camaraderie associated with motorcycling with a view to putting a positive proposal forward at the Branch AGM in February 2012. Posts are welcome on this discussion forum or members can email me direct if not registered on the site and I will be happy to post comments onto the discussion forum. If you don't have my email address follow the"contact us" link on the front page and send a message to "President"".