The old adage that “looks can be deceiving” is also applied to our towns and cities, with widespread perceptions making or breaking how a place is weighed-up by the masses.
A case in point – I have lived in both Broome and Rockingham over the last ten years and witnessed first-hand how these places are adjudged in contrasting fashion from the outside.
While Broome is largely seen as the holiday mecca with camel trains on the beach and cocktails at sunset, deep-rooted social issues, racial tensions and public safety concerns can fly under the collective radar.
Rockingham, on the other hand, gets a bad wrap for crime and the ‘bogan’ tag, with a wonderful community spirit and growing hospitality scene often overlooked or discredited by outsiders.
Over the next two months, Mandurah’s image will be put to the test.
High-profile events in October such as the Mandurah Pro surfing competition and Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games will give us the opportunity to show countless visitors just how amazing a place we live in.
These showcases are a chance for our business sector to put its best foot forward, for tourism operators to stun visitors by displaying the natural beauty of the region and our community at large to welcome tourists with open arms.
We have our issues, the same as everywhere else – but these can shape how people in Perth and the rest of WA assess our community.
Organisations like the City of Mandurah, MAPTO, Peel Chamber of Commerce and others are working hard to portray Mandurah for what it is – a vibrant place to work, live and visit.
However, in anticipation of the upcoming events, the authorities have a big job on their hands to ensure the correct planning is in place to avoid Mandurah being in the news for the wrong reasons.
While an unprovoked criminal act on our streets or a shark attack at one of our beaches is hard to prepare for, there are structures and processes that can be put in place to lower the likelihood.
Here’s hoping we are prepared for the influx of visitors in October and their perception of Mandurah is an overwhelmingly positive one when they head home.
Gareth McKnight is editor of the Mandurah Mail