- What services does your business provide?
The CaPTA Group operates several of the region’s leading wildlife parks, attractions, and touring companies: Rainforestation Nature Park Kuranda, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, and Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome, as well as Tropic Wings and Jungle Tours, which offer day tours and coach charters. Within the group, we also have the Careers Training Centre, a registered training organisation that delivers accredited courses in tourism, hospitality and captive animal management, as well as ABC Sales & Maintenance, an authorised dealership of used and new buses and coaches, parts and servicing.
- How long has your business been running and how long have you worked there?
My parents opened our first attraction, Rainforestation in 1976 – not giving away my age, but before I was born! So you could say I’ve worked on and off in the business for most of my life – in the early days, folding napkins as a child for pocket money (for which my brothers and I are still owed a significant amount of back pay for child labour), in the gift shop, bar and restaurant as a teenager and on university holidays… I’ve also worked in other industries too, but have been in a sales and marketing role with CaPTA since 2006.
- How long have you lived in Cairns?
I was born and bred here in Cairns – moved to Brisbane for my uni years studying Journalism at QUT, then moved back for a few years before living in London for most of my 20s. So all up, on and off, I’ve lived here for about 35 years – even when I’ve lived elsewhere, I’ve always been back and forth at least once a year.
- Where is your favourite place in Far North Queensland and why?
That’s a tough question because I love so many spots up here – there’s just so many diverse experiences that they all offer! Cairns itself, Kuranda, the Tablelands, the Northern Beaches, Port Douglas, Mission Beach – but I guess if I had to choose my absolute favourite place to get away, I’d have to say Cape Tribulation. Going up there for a few days is really like escaping to the raw wilderness of our region – getting out of mobile reception and switching off for a few days, it literally is where our World Heritage Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. I have so many fun memories of taking visiting family and friends up there.
- What is your favourite quote?
“I don’t know my future after this weekend, and I don’t want to” – from Bjork’s song, “Big Time Sensuality”. It really encapsulates a sense of not having control over what the future holds, but not worrying about it, and just immersing yourself to live in the current moment, and celebrate the “now”.
- Who is someone who inspires you and why?
I’m going to say both of my parents, Charles and Pip. Throughout my life, I can remember them working hard to build our family business and make it everything that it is today. We lost dad to cancer over 4 years ago, but he was an incredible mentor to my brothers and I, helping us build our differing skills and expertise to run the business. My mum Pip continues to be an inspiration to us, through not only her strength and resilience, but also her class, elegance and poise.
- What do you hope to achieve with your business at the end of 2021 and going into 2022?
We all know how tough our region’s tourism has been doing throughout the COVID pandemic. This has extended beyond just the immediate impact on our industry to affect our entire region, particularly over the past few months where we have encountered our most difficult period. For the rest of the year, I hope that we can continue to maintain the levels of business that will help us survive, keeping our great and passionate staff working for us, with locals continuing to support us the same way we’ve always supported them with special discounts. The next few months will be crucial in reaching vaccination levels where state borders will hopefully reopen and we can once again welcome visitors from NSW and Victoria, and then, into 2022, we should finally see international borders reopen so that our industry can truly recover.