What an honour it is to receive this award, especially amongst such amazing industry peers.
Tour guiding is more than a profession for me, it’s very much a passion and a strong part of my identity. The Kimberley is a special place and I love to share what I call the ‘Kimberley spirit’ with as many people as possible, via my 4wd tours and also online via my social media channels.
My interest in exploring the Kimberley began when I was a 12-year-old schoolboy in Broome. I was greatly influenced by the adventures of my neighbour Malcolm Douglas, the original ‘croc hunter’. Borrowing DVDs from the Douglas’ home library, I watched all of Malcolm’s documentaries and I developed a strong desire to explore the Kimberley. A week after getting my license, I got my first job as a driver for the Horizontal Falls seaplane operator. For the next decade I worked in a variety of tourism roles around the Kimberley, both on land and at sea. But it was Bruce Ellison, the pioneering bush-man who set up the ‘Bush camp at Faraway Bay’ who was to become my greatest mentor, teaching me to live (and survive) in an extremely remote part of the Kimberley.
At a pivotal moment in life, I dreamt of starting my own company. My vision was for small group 4wd tours, introducing visitors to the Kimberley and sharing the knowledge that had been passed to me. During this exciting time of planning I experienced the loss a a mentor and friend, an indigenous stockman at El Questro wilderness park. Driving out of El Questro after his memorial I witnessed an extraordinary double rainbow, reaching down from the sky and touching the earth in front of me. I decided to go ahead and setup my own touring company with a name that represented the spirit of this great region – “Kimberley Spirit Tours”.
Through my current role as Kimberley Spirit owner/tour guide, also my promotions of the Kimberley to 180,000 social media followers on my Facebook and Instagram accounts @thekimberleyaustralia and @kimberleyspirit, I work tirelessly to promote Kimberley tourism and to encourage locals to get out and explore ‘their backyard’.
The Kimberley is one of the greatest places on earth, and I am privileged to be a tour guide here. I’d like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past, present and future.
With this award I hope to encourage the next generation of ‘Kimberley kids’ to pursue their dreams with passion, persistence and hard work. Tour guiding is hard work and not everyone’s cut out for it, especially remote area guiding, but there’s nothing else in the world that I’d rather be doing, and nowhere else I’d rather be than the Kimberley!