Recent scholarship has suggested that history-linked and heritage-based tourism, and its engagement in the never-ending telling of stories, is becoming solidly entrenched as a contribution to the popularisation and consumption of the record of history. The essential challenge for tourism is to tell the story by using history-linked sites and objects as cultural ‘texts’ and as conduits between the past and the present – for providing the experience of ‘being there’ without ‘being there’. Using a story about an episode of Australian history as a case study, this paper experiments with perspectives from geography and semiotics to probe for certainty with fixed points in the story, points which are marked by tangible and visual characteristics and which are at least indicative of important elements which create the identity and significance of the storyscape. A story told through tourism will seldom be permanently fixed, and this circumstance has implications for some of the ideological interpretations of ‘authenticity’, and although the fundamental shape of the story might not be imperilled, the quality of the experience presented through tourism might be. Important implications of this challenge are addressed in this paper.
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Abstract included in PLA’s Research Connections article in Parks and Leisure Australia Vol 22.4 Summer 2019