John Barker hails from Sydney, Australia and has been in the north of Wyoming three times, but now on his fourth time to the Cowboy state, he is taking a look at places off the beaten Australian tourist trail.
He is a writer for Escape, an Australian travel magazine owned by News Corp.
Barker flew in on June 25 going Sydney, Los Angeles to Denver with another Australian journalist where they joined two other travel writers that had come in from Europe. One writer was from the United Kingdom who got a direct flight from London to Denver. The other journalist came from France who flew from Lyon, Munich to Denver.
Anna Willatt, writer for House Coco based in the United Kingdom marveled at what she had seen on the trip before coming to Saratoga. She said her magazine was doing the next issue on adventure and this trip being centered on exploring the wild west fit well. Willatt said her magazine is primarily for millennials, mostly female, who love to travel.
“The itinerary has been amazing,” Willatt said. “”We have done everything; going on an actual wagon ride on the Oregon Trail, going to museums and seeing landscapes that represent the wild west.”
Tia Troy, media and public relations manager for Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) met the group in Denver and took them to Cheyenne for their first evening in Wyoming.
“The theme we were presenting to the international press who were visiting was ‘Discovering the spirit of the old West,” Troy said. “We set up their schedule to reflect this type of adventure.”
In Cheyenne, the group toured the historic downtown, had a railway trolley tour; visited the Terry Bison Ranch; visited the Old West Museum and had tea at the Nagle Warren mansion.
The next day had the writers at Ft. Laramie historic site and found themselves staying at a unique bed and breakfast.
“I stayed in a Tipi, another one of us stayed in a sheep herder’s wagon and the others in a bunkhouse,” Willatt said. “It was an unique experience that was fantastic.”
The group visited Casper where they visited the National Historic Trails Center; had a wagon ride; visited the Tate Museum and Backwards Distillery.
The third day had the group come to Saratoga where, upon arriving, had lunch at Firewater Public House. After lunch the journalists checked into the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort and were given time to explore Saratoga’s downtown.
Willatt and Barker made their way into Bridge Street Bargains, where both were delighted with the shop and the concept that profits went to charity.
“We are really glad we came in here,” Barker said. “I got something I will remember this trip by.”
While visiting Bridge Street Bargains, Willatt and Barker got advice about places to visit locally by Patty Hasting, Bridge Street Bargain volunteer worker, who told them they had to visit the Snowy Range.
“I know you have a schedule, but you can’t miss the Snowy Range,” Hastings said. “You have to stop at Lake Marie and take in the wildflowers around the lake because it is just beautiful.”
Willatt and Barker said they hoped to see the place Hastings described.
Barker and Willatt said after Bridge Street Bargains, they planned to have a soak in the Resort’s hot pools and then for dinner were going to meet C.J. Box at the Hotel Wolf. Box was dining with the group to tell of how Wyoming inspired the locales of his stories.
It turns out the schedule for the writers did include a trip through the Snowy Range and a stop at Lake Marie on their way for a stay at the Vee Ranch outside of Centennial according to Troy. She said the group saw five moose going through the Snowy Range that thrilled all the reviewers.
“We want to expose these hidden gems to the Australian audience,” Barker said. “Our audience is a little older than Anna’s and have a little bit of money, so we feel if you are going to make the trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, why not take a little time and go south to see other places as well, because it is a big state.”
“When I quiz people in the UK, most say they haven’t been here (Wyoming) and if they have, it is Yellowstone and that is usually it,” Willatt said who was making her first trip to Wyoming. “This is something new and different and if we (House Coco) can play a part in making people see it, I will be very happy.”
Both said they were really delighted with everything they had seen and how friendly the people of each place had been to them.
“We have had an amazing amount of experiences in three days,” Barker said. “Imagine what would happen if we had been given three weeks.”