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Following the footsteps of an Outback legend

Tourism

They’re as true-blue Aussie as Akubra hats and Crocodile Dundee and as loved as Hugh Jackman. Now Australia’s elastic-sided RM Williams boots are the inspiration for a luxury tour of Outback South Australia.

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First made by legendary bushman and boot maker RM Williams, who was born in South Australia in 1908 just a few kilometres from where Elon Musk this year installed the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, the boots are now worn by celebrities, royalty and pretty much every Australian country gent – including Hugh Jackman who is a shareholder in the company.

But the boots had much humbler beginnings.

During the Great Depression, RM spent several years working in the ancient Flinders Ranges of South Australia where he met a man named “Dollar Mick” who taught RM how to make a boot from a single piece of leather.

He mastered the art and founded the RM Williams Company in Adelaide, the South Australian capital, in 1932. By the time RM Williams died in 2003, aged 95, he was what Aussies call a “dead-set legend” and his boots lived on. Today, the RM Williams company is owned by L Capital Asia, a subsidiary of French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. It exports to 15 countries and sells its iconic Australian boots and clothes through 900 stockists around the globe, including a store in SoHo, New York.

Now South Australian-based premium tourism company The Tailor has partnered with the RM Williams Company to host the ultimate Outback experience that traces the founder’s footsteps to some of Australia’s most beautiful and remote places.

The luxury three-day experience also visits the factory and showroom where guests are fitted for their own custom-made RM Williams boots.

The Tailor flies guests in a private Pilatus PC12 aircraft from their 5-star accommodation in Adelaide to the heart of the 540-million-years-old Flinders Ranges, known for its rugged red ranges, gnarled gum trees, rock wallabies and stony creek beds.

The tour also flies over Australia’s infamous inland sea – the often-dry 9500-square-kilometre Lake Eyre (below) – before landing for a visit to a working Outback sheep station, a cruise down the Cooper Creek and a tour of the Edicara fossils.

The Tailor Product Manager Kirsty Siekmann says the In RM’s Footsteps experience has been running since 2016 and has proven popular with both Australian and international clients.

She says the spirit of RM Williams comes out in the places they visit.

“He was an amazing pioneer but he was also someone who obviously had exquisite attention to detail, craftsmanship and a great affiliation with the land and local people,” Siekmann says.

“When you go to the place where he made those first boots you realise the humble beginnings he started from – they’re still making the boots almost exactly the same as they have for a long time.”

The tours are generally held between June and August – in the Australian winter when Outback temperatures are relatively mild.

Guests also get to enjoy the The Prairie Hotel’s signature Tastings Banquet in one of their private dining rooms. Renowned for its ‘feral food experiences’ the food at The Prairie Hotel was recently voted ‘1 of 20 unmissable Outback experiences’.

The Tailor runs dozens of premium tours and experiences across Australia and caters for about 1500 international clients each year.

Siekmann says while Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef are always popular destinations, most visitors to Australia wanted to experience the country’s unique wildlife areas such as Kangaroo Island and the Outback – both of which are important parts of South Australia’s tourism industry.

“Great food and wine is also paramount to that and South Australia ticks a lot of those boxes,” she says.

“We really do deliver and a lot of people don’t realise how many diverse experiences you can get in the one state here.”

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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