Dubbo is firmly in the race to host next year's Koori Knockout after council confirmed discussions with Walgett Aboriginal Corporation (WAC).
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WAC secured hosting rights for the 2024 edition of the time-honoured carnival after winning this year's Koori Knockout at Tuggerah.
Dubbo was quickly tipped as the favourite to host given its proximity to Walgett and its staging of the 2015 and 2018 events, but other contenders have emerged.
This week a Wagga Wagga City Council spokesperson confirmed they had met WAC while Tamworth and a return to Tuggerah were also rumoured.
Dubbo Regional Council mayor Mathew Dickerson said there had been conversations with WAC officials and he was eager to have what's known as "the modern day corroboree" return to the western area.
"We'd be very keen to have it again," Dickerson said.
"The last two times we've had the event it's been great for tourism and a great injection into our economy.
"And you get some top quality rugby league, as well. There's current and former NRL players playing at the event and that's good for anyone who wants to go and spectate and, just overall, it's the type of thing we seem to do very well in Dubbo."
An estimated 7000 people attended the NSW Touch Junior State Cup Northern Conference carnival at the Lady Cutler fields earlier this year while events ranging from NRL matches to statewide junior cricket tournaments have been staged at Dubbo in recent years.
Central Coast Council estimated this year's Knockout at Tuggerah injected around $6 million into the local economy.
Around 47,000 attended the event which was won by a WAC team including former and current NRL stars like Jack Wighton and Ben Barba.
"We're great at hosting those events when you've got a few thousand people that need accommodation and need to take advantage of everything our city has to offer," Dickerson said.
"We're easy to get to so there's a whole range of reasons they'd want to host it here but it's a competitive landscape. We can't stop Wagga or anyone else, they're more than welcome to, but we'll put our best foot forward."
While eager to see the Koori Knockout staged at Dubbo, Dickerson said council won't be financially irresponsible to ensure it happens.
Council has changed its tune when it comes to major events in recent years and has focused more on junior carnivals rather than attractions like NRL matches.
A $67,000 loss was reported following the 2022 NRL match between South Sydney and Canberra at Apex Oval, and council said after that money could have been better elsewhere.
"I would argue that those junior tournaments are pumping more money into our economy and costing us dramatically less than an NRL match," Dickerson said at the time.
Things won't change when it comes to the Koori Knockout and the mayor said "we're not keen to hand over large chunks of money to those organisations".
"We'd rather do the groundwork for them and have the city prepared and have the grounds prepared and do all that sort of work for them because we just don't think it's right to hand over large amounts of ratepayers' money to some organisations to have an event in our city," he added.
The Koori Knockout is held each year on the October long weekend.
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