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BURRA is basking in the afterglow of Oscar winning film star Russell Crowe’s visit to the region.
Tourism operators and business owners have spoken glowingly about the actor’s presence in the Mid-North town and are optimistic it will lead to a long-term influx of visitors.
Crowe and his crew members visited Burra in October last year to scope out locations for his new film The Water Diviner, and returned in January to shoot scenes .
South Australian Tourism Commission Clare Valley representative Angela Ruddenklau said she hoped Crowe’s visit to Burra would spark people’s interest about the region.
Ms Ruddenklau said the area was already popular with film makers who shot parts of Wolf Creek 2 there.
“It will be fantastic to have that beautiful countryside on show with another prominent actor,” she said.
“Hopefully that will create intrigue in people and bring visitors to have a look.”
Crowe has told The Advertiser he enjoyed his time in the Mid-North, praising locals and the setting for his film.
Hotels were booked to capacity and restaurants stayed open longer to cater for Crowe and his crew members.
Regional Development South Australia Yorke and Mid North region chief executive Kelly-Anne Saffin said Crowe’s visit had already provided an economic boost for Burra.
“We hope people see the sites of Burra and will take the opportunity to have a look as it is only two hours from Adelaide,” she said.
“Burra has got a lot to offer because it is a very unique town.”
Goyder Regional Council Burra ward councillor Darryl Venning said Crowe’s visit to the town had created excitement and injected money into local businesses.
“He created a positive for the whole region and he mixed well with the local people,” he said.
“I think he was good for the town.”
Mr Venning said time would tell as to whether Crowe’s visit would bring more people to the region.
During his two visits to Burra, Crowe and his crew members dined at the local Indonesian and Italian restaurants.
White Cedars Cafe co-owner Francis Walling said Crowe had provided great publicity for the restaurant and the town.
The actor dined at the Indonesian restaurant five times and signed the guest book ‘delicious’.
“He told the media ‘you can’t beat White Cedars for a decent nasi goreng’ and that has gone all around Australia,” he said.
“He tried to get us to open one more night but Putu (Suta, co-owner) was going to the Tour Down Under.”
Around the corner at Italian restaurant La Pecora Nera - known as the Black Sheep - Crowe and crew members dined with other patrons.
Co-owner Clare Vitozzi said the timing of Crowe’s film in Burra was perfect for the town.
“Burra is always busy in the winter but summer for us is quiet so to have something like that in town at that time of year is fantastic,” she said.
“There was a big influx of cash and they were very happy to spend money.
“It’s fantastic for South Australia. South Australia has got a lot to offer in terms of landscapes for film and it’s very cheap to produce things here.
“The general comment from the all of cast and the crew was how friendly everyone was and how economical everything was.”
However, not everyone was aware that a Hollywood film star was staying in their town.
Cook ‘o’ Burra cafe owner Jenetta Sosa served Crowe breakfast but didn’t realise who he was.
“He ordered a toasted ham and tomato sandwich and a cappuccino,” she said.
“He paid and sat outside. That is when my son said ‘do you know who he is?’ and I said no.
“I just thought ‘how could I not know a famous film star?’, but if Brad Pitt walked in I would not know.”
She said Crowe was polite and pleasant and agreed to have his photograph taken.
“I asked him if he was really Russell Crowe and he said ‘sometimes’ so I asked the guy he was with and he said ‘yes, he is’,” she said.
“My son asked him how his coffee was and he said ‘the best and only one I’ve had in Burra’.”