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The Flinders Ranges Council has been awarded $1m in funding from the Commonwealth Government under the Drought Communities Programme.

Funding under the Drought Communities Programme is available to eligible councils for local infrastructure projects and other drought-relief activities. Project funding is intended to provide short-term support, including by boosting local employment and procurement, and addressing social and community needs. 

However, as Mark Sutton, Chair Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far North said, The Flinders Ranges Council was initially overlooked in receiving the funding.

“When the extension of this Programme was announced by the Australian Government in October 2018, $1m was awarded to 60 eligible Councils, including 17 in South Australia, however The Flinders Ranges Council was one of the Councils that was overlooked for funding support despite being identified by the State Government as being in drought.

In seeing this anomaly RDA Far North lobbied Commonwealth Ministers and Members of Parliament to have the Council area recognised as requiring drought assistance. 

“In The Flinders Ranges Council region, agriculture accounts for the largest share of the region’s industry value-add at 20%, is the largest contributor to regional exports with 42% of total regional export value and accounts for 21% of local employment, the highest industry in the region.  The agricultural industry also provides a significant offering for the tourism industry with a number of pastoral homesteads offering tourism experiences.

“This is a good outcome for The Flinders Ranges Council as it is expected that the grant will stimulate local community spending at local business and suppliers in support of the local community and the agricultural industry that underpins its economy.   RDA Far North will continue to work closely with The Flinders Ranges Council in the rolling out of this important funding initiative.”

RDA Far North will continue to advocate both the Australian and State Governments for increased support for those parts of the far north who are also managing the impacts of severe drought conditions.       


Today the Commonwealth Government announced 19 communication blackspots in South Australia under Round 4 of the Mobile Blackspot Programme, with seven of those being located in the Far North region.

Mark Sutton, Chair Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far North said that reliable and consistent mobile communications is one of our high priorities in relation to infrastructure needs across the region.

“The announcement today is a great win for our region and goes a long way to ensuring that residents and visitors have consistent mobile phone coverage as they traverse our vast region.”

“Having mobile phone access is key to ensuring the safety of the public, and the covering of these vital blackspots will assist in achieving this, especially in emergency situations.”

“It also means that visitors travelling through the areas can have access to vital and informative tourism information which can assist them on their journey through the regions.”

“RDA Far North has been working with local and state government partners and providers for some time and this is a great win for the Outback Communities Authority, The Flinders Ranges Council and Nipapanha Community Council.”

There were 90 mobile blackspots identified across the Far North region and the Mobile Blackspot Programme has provided solutions for 21 of these locations to date, including the seven announced today.

The base stations that have received funding under Round 4, which will be operational by June 2020 are as follows:

  • Cadney Park
  • Cradock
  • Lyndhurst
  • Arkaroola Village
  • Nepabunna
  • Pichi Richi
  • Flinders Ranges Way



The Flinders Ranges and Outback SA tourism region had a successful night at the South Australian Tourism Awards, with operators receiving eight awards and accolades. 

Mark Sutton, RDA Far North Chair said “It’s great that so many businesses and people have been recognised and awarded for all the hard work they have put into building their businesses and lifting the profile of tourism in the Flinders Ranges and Outback region.  RDA Far North is also proud that we have assisted them over the years in reaching their goals in many different ways, such as access to grants and funding and business support, growth and advisory services.”

The South Australian Tourism Industry Council 2018 South Australian Tourism Awards held on Friday 9 November highlighted the successful businesses in the Flinders Ranges and Outback region.

The Flinders Ranges and Outback region had 11 finalists in the awards with nine of these receiving bronze and higher awards.  The businesses and achievements are outlined as follows:

  • Wrightsair - Winner Major Tour and Transport Operator and inducted into the Hall of Fame for the third year in a row
  • Bendleby Ranges - Bronze Medallist Tourist Attractions
  • Australian Arid Land Botanic Gardens - Bronze Medallist Ecotourism
  • Almerta Station - Bronze Medallist Unique Accommodation
  • Bendleby Ranges - Silver Medallist Adventure Tourism
  • Coober Pedy Retail, Business and Tourism Association - Bronze Medallist Destination Marketing
  • Flinders Bush Retreats - Silver Medallist Self-Contained Accommodation
  • Marree Hotel - Silver Medallist Standard Accommodation
  • Chinta Air Tours - Bronze Medallist Specialist Tourism Services

“I wish to congratulate all finalists and winners for the 2018 South Australia Tourism Awards.  Tourism businesses in the Flinders Ranges and Outback Region put a lot of time and effort into applying for the prestigious annual awards and the region features significantly each year. Being in business alone, especially tourism, is time consuming so for businesses to find the time to promote themselves and the wider region by entering awards such as these is testament to them.”

The Flinders Ranges and Outback SA Region is one of the fastest growing tourism regions outside of Adelaide with the region reaching an annual average of over 3 million overnight stays for the period September 2015 – September 2017, resulting in $410m worth of expenditure.

Here at RDA Far North our dedicated team of regional people are thrilled with these achievements of our region, “we are lucky that our roles allow us to get out and about in this spectacular region working one-on-one with such high achieving dedicated business operators, well done Far North SA and we look forward to continuing to assist businesses in our region grow and achieving continued success in the future.”




Following the recent appointment of Mark Sutton as Chair of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far North, a new Board with four new Members and four returning Members will meet for the first time today.

The new Board will continue to focus and enhance performance measures around brand recognition of RDA Far North and the Australia wide RDA network along with providing a clear value proposition to our program partners to support sustainable economic development. 

“The new Board is a great mix of new and returning members who will provide strong regional leadership through well-established connections with all levels of government, industry and the community.  This will in-turn support sound policy development and investment in the far north region,” Mr Sutton, Chair, RDA Far North said.

“The far north region is a significant cog in the engine that drives the South Australian economy.  Whether it is through resource extraction, pastoralism or the emerging tourism and services sectors, the economy is growing.  The new RDA Far North Board will bring new and innovative ideas to the table to support this growth,” Mr Sutton added.

“It is exciting times for the far north!”

The new board has a strong mix of industry, resources, transport, small business, tourism and local government understanding and includes returning members Colin Davies appointed as Deputy Chair and Greg Flint from the Flinders Ranges along with Anthony (Tony) Mitchell from Port Augusta and Catherine Way from Adelaide.  New Members include Brett Benbow, Graham Elliot and Craig Cresp from Port Augusta and Phil Turner from Marree in the far north.

Members who did not seek reappointment included Debbie Alexander and John Gavin.

“Whilst appointing a new board is exciting I thank the outgoing board members, Debbie Alexander and John Gavin who have devoted their time and expertise to RDA Far North and have made a significant contribution into the way the organisation operates. “  


Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far North has welcomed the State Budget for 2018-2019 as released by Treasurer Rob Lucas today.

Mr Mark Sutton, Chair RDA Far North, said that the budget will bring some minor and major windfalls for the Far North SA region. “RDA Far North understands, through production of our Economic Growth and Investment Strategies, that dollars invested in key areas such as road and communications infrastructure lead to a more robust economy for regions.”

“It is promising to see the State Government commit $773m over five years into regional areas with a focus on employment, building the economy, workforce and education investment, infrastructure, health systems and support and safer and better serviced communities.  This long term commitment shows that the State Government realises the importance of regions to the overall State and National economy."

The major winners in the Far North region of SA are business and infrastructure development and support programs such as the Regional Growth Fund and the Mobile Phone Black Spot Fund, continued support for the Regional Showcase initiative which highlights successful and innovative regional businesses, remediation of Bird Lake in Port Augusta, permanent dialysis on the APY lands and the completion of the detailed planning works for the Joy Baluch AM Bridge duplication project. 

“In addition to the support for Regional Development Australia committees, funding for the above initiatives and projects shows a strong commitment by State Government to not only our region, but to the whole of regional SA.  Regional areas provide the electricity to power cities and urban areas, it’s where the food is grown and sourced and it’s where the greatest wealth comes from in terms of major industries such as mining, therefore it’s a positive move to have this value formally recognised and supported” said Mr Sutton.

For more information on the State Budget go to www.statebudget.sa.gov.au