EDITORIAL TUESDAY 14.12.10.
She came, she saw, and she captured the imagination of millions. If anybody is still criticising the fuss and expense of welcoming the Oprah Winfrey whirlwind to Australia, their sniping has been completely drowned out by the adulating roar of the masses. 6000 fans assembled in front of the Oprah House today for the taping of two television shows to be screened next month. Samples of the event have already been broadcast showing the overwhelming enthusiasm of the crowd, and the unbridled exuberance of Oprah herself as she arrived on the stage. After leading a spirited chant of Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi, Oprah declared that she now knows why we call our land “Oz”, as it truly is at the end of the yellow brick road.
Of course, it is show biz, and it is all very carefully stage managed, but there is no doubt that the enthusiasm is genuine. Equally, there can be no doubt that the positive publicity for Australia that will reach millions of people, not only in the United States, but around the world is likely to exceed even the wildest expectations of Tourism Australia, the agency which helped to make it all happen. Far from being a waste of taxpayer dollars, as some have suggested, the contribution from Tourism Australia is the best money they have spent since Paul Hogan was throwing another shrimp on the barbie.
It’s not just the impact of the Oprah seal of approval, which in it self can make or break businesses, but the opportunity for an audience of hundreds of millions worldwide to see the best of Australia on show. From Uluru to the Great Barrier Reef, to a back yard barbie in Earlwood, this will probably turn out to be the best travelogue ever made. In fact, the two hours of television which result from this escapade will deliver vastly more bang for the buck than the $120 million that it cost for Baz Lurhmann to make his “Australia” motion picture, and will probably be a damn sight more entertaining too.