Luring Hemsworth star power to show Australia what's west of the mountains

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Chris Hemsworth in Marvel's Thor: The Dark World. Picture: Marvel

Chris Hemsworth in Marvel's Thor: The Dark World. Picture: Marvel

What comes to mind when you think of Chris Hemsworth?

Maybe it's the Mjolnir wielding Thor in the hit Marvel movies, or the Hollywood heartthrob smiling for the cameras on the red carpet.

But can you picture one of Australia's favourite sons strolling through the canola fields of Cowra?

While traditional tourism campaigns show Australia as sandy white beaches interspersed with shots of iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

But as lockdown weary tourists rush to book holidays, it's time for a reminder that there's plenty to discover west of the NSW Blue Mountains.

And here's just a taste.

In the NSW Central West alone, Mudgee and Orange's wine country has put them firmly on the foodie map, Bathurst hosts the most important day on the V8 Supercar racing calendar and Dubbo is home to all kinds of creatures with Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Parkes has stars - literally and figuratively - with their annual Elvis Festival and radio telescope, while ABBA enthusiasts descend on Trundle each year.

Canowindra lights up with every colour of the rainbow when balloons take to the skies each April, while Young turns red in December for their annual Cherry Festival.

And Cowra, aside from the fields of gold in the spring, proudly guards important parts of our history with the world famous Japanese Garden and the unique World War II Prisoner of War Camp.

Residents of Cowra are asking one simple question; "Where the bloody hell is he?"

He, of course, being Chris Hemsworth.

The small town in the central west has made national headlines with Cowra Tourism embarking on an ambitious campaign to get the Thor star to the region.

Cowra Tourism's Glenn Daley believes Hemsworth's profile could attract plenty of people out west.

"I came across the fact that Chris and his family holidayed on Lord Howe Island, then jumped on his Instagram page and saw the incredible following he had," he said.

The Cowra community has gotten behind the #GetChristoCowra campaign. Photo supplied.

The Cowra community has gotten behind the #GetChristoCowra campaign. Photo supplied.

"I read that he was a Tourism ambassador and I kind of started half jokingly thinking to myself, maybe we can get him out here to have a look at regional NSW.

"The more I thought about it, the more I thought this could be a pretty cool campaign."

Since then, the Cowra community has jumped on board with the campaign, with Hemsworth photoshopped in local gyms and schools while one cafe has created the "Chris" burger, complete with "chris-py" bacon and onion rings and a special "Thor-se".

A car dealership and local helicopter company have also offered to transport the Hemsworth crew around the region.

"The feedback has been universally great, from the media uptake but more importantly the local responses," Mr Daley said.

"We've had messages of support and thanks, it's been phenomenal.

"It's really hit all the points we hoped for and more."

While there is a focus on the Cowra area and everything the district has to offered, Mr Daley said he believes a visit from Hemsworth has the potential to boost the entire central west, which has been battling through drought, a mice plague and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We jokingly call Cowra the jewel in the regional crown [but] all the region has suffered through people not being able to travel," he said.

"Tourism brings more business to our small towns. There's groceries and there's retail, all the other things that go with it, have all suffered as well.

"It sends positive messages of recovery, it's been good for us to actually have a positive message to put out there.

"We're cautiously optimistic."

While an appearance from the Hollywood heartthrob remains to be seen, Mr Daley said there's so much more to the region then meets the eye.

"I think it's country town values... people can came out here and walk down the street and have a friendly chat with them and a smile," he said.

"And just the general beauty of the town, I've had so many tourists come through before COVID saying, 'We were travelling through but gee, we didn't realise how pretty this town is and we're going to stay a few days' or 'We will be definitely coming back'.

"We're also a regional hub so people can come out from Sydney and Canberra and stay in Cowra... and then do a day trip or a morning trip out to Blayney or Parkes or Forbes or Gooloogong or Canowindra or maybe go over and see Orange and then come back and stay the night.

"It's location, it's beauty and the genuine friendliness of the people."

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