Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Elton John Goes Potty

The Hope Estate in the beautiful Hunter Valley produces not only excellent wines but has become the venue of choice for visiting performers including Neil Diamond, The Who, Whitney Huston, James Taylor and Carole King. Last week Dolly Parton sang there and this weekend Elton John gives two concerts.

Any excuse to visit the Hunter should be grabbed and vintner Michael Hope by combining with promoters like Michael Chugg has won big time with this concept and is cleaning up. Over the past year he has built a brand new amphitheatre and early next year has George Michael and Rod Stewart in his line-up of star acts.
Hope Estate

Now the local Cessnock Council wants in on the action. Visitors to the Hunter always marvel at the glorious landscape but the roads are a real shocker and full of potholes. Over the past month the council has taken heed of local’s complaints and has been discussing a $50,000 levy to be charged to the concert promoters which would add an extra $3 to ticket prices.

The powerful Tourism Transport Forum says it’s an “absolutely appalling” idea : “you have a council that’s reaped a benefit from having a vineyard on its doorstep for decades and now it wants to tax people for having fun”, seemingly ignoring the notion that Hope has now over taken the Sydney Entertainment Centre for staging large concerts.

Small local business owners are backing the council and one who wished to remain anonymous and who says he represents 30 others told the Shuttle today:
“We have no problem with the Hope Estate concerts but they bring an extra 35,000 people to the Hunter on concert days and few other businesses see a benefit from that. The visitors spend all day at the Hope Estate which controls all their spending. Food and drinks must be purchased at Hope. Hampers cost about $100 and some tickets cost up to $699. The thousands of extra buses and cars are causing havoc on the already creaking roads and we are expected to subsidize the roads for Hope”
Looks like this one may be destined for the courts.