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Show on motorcyclists will showcase Nevada to Australians

They’re called “temporary Australians,” a derogatory term cooked up in the 1920s for wandering motorcyclists who headed out on the dusty back roads of Australia and didn’t seem to have a lick of sense about distance and direction.

“It’s meant as an insult, but we embraced it because we have the same kind of sense of humor that you seem to have here in Nevada,” said Greg Hirst, the executive producer and host of a television series shown Down Under that’s now in its fifth season.

Hirst was in Las Vegas on Tuesday to continue a ride from the West Coast to Sturgis, South Dakota, the home of one of the United States’ biggest motorcycle rallies that begins Aug. 8.

It’s all being captured on tape for a documentary-style reality television show that’s attempting to blow up the negative stereotypes about motorcyclists for Australian TV viewers.

The show is called “Temporary Australians” and the Nevada Commission on Tourism is embracing it as a means to show off the state to thousands of viewers half a world away at relatively low cost.

“They made contact with us and we helped put together some of the arrangements for the crew,” said Bethany Drysdale, the state agency’s spokeswoman.

For Hirst, it’s the first international adventure for the show for him and his collaborator, Brendan Jones.

The first four seasons of “Temporary Australians” included rides around that country and the only international component was the occasional interview with foreign motorcyclists along for the ride.

On this trip, the crew got their Harley Davidsons on loan from a California dealer. When they came through Las Vegas, they met with local motorcycle club members who offered to escort them along the Strip and guide them out of town toward Kingman, Arizona, where the production crew planned to pick up historic Route 66 for a trip to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Drysdale figures any visuals of the Strip will be helpful in selling the state and when the crew returns from Sturgis they’ll ride some Northern Nevada highways.

The pilot episode of the show was filmed in 2008 with Jonesy and Hirsty, as Jones and Hirst are identified, providing ad lib intros and exits for their adventures. The shows first aired on community television stations in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Geelong during 2012.

As the show built an audience, it got picked up on Digital Channel One, part of Australia’s Ten Network.

The audience continued to grow and by 2015, the first three seasons of the show had been seen by more than 2 million people.

Hirst said he is working to get the American adventure picked up by a network in the United States.

For Hirst, the emphasis of the show is showing the kinder and gentler side of motorcycle enthusiasts since many Australians view most riders as motorcycle gang members.

“It’s enthusiast-based programming,” Hirst said. “The media cover the bad stuff about motorcyclists, but we try to show the positive side.”

For Nevada, it’s an opportunity to draw more Australians to the state.

“Overseas TV shows such as ‘Temporary Australians’ pique the interest of potential international visitors and support Travel Nevada’s mission to increase revenue to the state through tourism,” Drysdale said.

The state invested $2,500 in the project and covered the cost of four hotel rooms for crew members in Las Vegas.

Of the 1.3 million Australian visitors to the United States in 2014, the most recent year statistics are available, 29.4 percent — 375,000 people — visited Nevada, an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

Nevada is the fourth-most visited state for Australians behind California, Hawaii and New York.

Gov. Brian Sandoval currently is on a two-week economic development tour of Australia.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

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