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Board Members

Ecotourism Australia is governed by a board of directors located around Australia. Meet them here.

Dr Claire Ellis Chair

Dr Claire Ellis is the current Chair of Ecotourism Australia. She has worked for over 35 years in tourism across a variety of roles. During this time, she has been a tourism operator (running her own business in Indonesia), employed by other operators, an academic and researcher, in State Government and is now working as a consultant. As a Director, Infrastructure and Industry Development, at Tourism Tasmania, she oversaw a number of key areas of work including growing the capacity of Tasmania’s tourism industry in the digital environment. Claire has also been Chair of the National Long Term Tourism Strategy’s Destination Management Planning Working Group. During her six years in Tourism Tasmania she worked closely with key projects including the selection and development of the Three Capes Track. Her consultancy work now takes her across Australia as well as overseas. She has built a reputation for creating long term positive outcomes, particularly in regional areas, and works closely with clients and stakeholders supporting strategic improvements.

Claire is also a Board member of Volunteering Tasmania, NRM Southern Tasmania and the Asian Ecotourism Network and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania.

Innes Larkin Deputy Chair

Innes Larkin has been active in the outdoors from an early age and remembers climbing Mt Barney for the first time at age 11. A trained teacher with a Masters of Arts in Outdoor Education, Innes has taught in London, Brisbane and at an outdoor education centre at Maroon Dam. In 2003 Innes and his wife Tracey managed Mt Barney Lodge, then purchased the property in 2006 and have grown the business 900% since then.

During his time at the Lodge Innes has been involved in many rescues including once getting winched from a helicopter to rescue four climbers, stuck on the cliffs of Mt Lindesay. His skills and knowledge and position give him the unique ability to interact with emergency services to effect rescues in a timely and cost effective manner. Innes sees this community service as a way of giving back to the mountains that sustain his business.

In 2011 a local newspaper reported on a proposed coal mine in Mt Barney region and Innes became involved in the community group “Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic”. Community meetings, information sessions, database mail outs, speeches, government deputations, meetings and finally a 10-day Blockade in January 2012 where he was arrested for his beliefs, created the impetus for stopping all forms of coal and CSG mining in the Scenic Rim. This experience has led Innes to utilise the Mt Barney Lodge business brand to simply get the balance right - firstly in his region of the Scenic Rim but also now in the greater regions of Qld and Australia.

A current member of the community advisory committee (and for the last 4 years) for the Gondwanan Rainforests of Australia World Heritage property, Innes is passionate about sustainable tourism and the lasting legacies that a ecotourism industry can bring to a region.

Alysia Brandenburg

Alysia has been in the tourism and hospitality industry since her teens, working in the family country hotel in Dimboola, Victoria.  Since then Alysia has developed a passion and career in tourism in regional communities, grounded in the realities of small business, competitive marketplaces, changing labour needs and quality customer service. Alysia holds a Masters of Tourism from Monash University, is a Victorian Tourism Award Judge and has worked for multiple entities including resorts, tourism boards, membership-based associations and state governments.   She is a personal member of Ecotourism Australia and VTIC.

Alysia has a passion and expertise for engaging with the industry sector in a collaborate manner, particularly focused on sustainable destination planning, accessibility and visitor experience development. She was the architect of award-winning tourism initiatives during her career at Parks Victoria and developed and delivered tour operator reforms to reduce red tape, promote resilience and create enabling environments for operators. Alysia is a strong advocate for accreditation programs and industry standards and champions the importance of maintaining quality standards, compliance activities and skills training. She has a personal commitment to the promotion of the health benefits of engaging with nature and is dedicated to experience development that connects visitors with people, place and storytelling in a sustainable manner.

Alysia has served on numerous tourism organisations, including being Chairman of Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Campaign Committee and TAPAF.  She demonstrates strong leadership attributes in governance, financial accountability, strategic planning and membership value. Since leaving Parks Victoria recently, after 19-year career culminating in the senior position of Tourism Manager, Alysia has been working with World Urban Parks, supporting the International Parks and Leisure Congress 2018 in a volunteer capacity.

She is highly regarded as a tourism specialist and industry leader, has a great team spirit, sense of humour and capacity to work together to progress concepts to reality.

Dr Noreen Breakey

Noreen has over 30 years of tourism experience and is passionate about ecotourism. She began her career in the first Australian tourism degree, before working in accommodation with family businesses and international hotel properties. These amazing nature-based offerings were around protected areas: Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Daintree, Kosciuszko, and Noosa. Noreen’s growing belief that destinations could, and should, be better managed to protect our environment saw her complete her PhD on tourism destination development, while working as the TEQ Corporate Planning Analyst, co-developing the first Destination Management Plans for all Queensland regions.

Noreen is a tourism lecturer/researcher at the University of Queensland (UQ), where she pursues her ecotourism research, including environmental ethics, ecotourism motivations, and tourism in World Heritage Areas (WHAs). Noreen is increasingly recognised as an ecotourism expert, she is called on to speak publicly, and her research informs protected area management. Her sabbatical with the UNWTO and UNESCO (WHAs) aimed to understand research opportunities to support decision-making. Noreen has received education awards for ‘build bridges’ between UQ and tourism stakeholders, including TRIP, which has provided student teams for projects proposed by regional destinations. There are opportunities to leverage UQ resources, for industry to direct research to the issues that really matter, and for useful research to be presented to members.

Noreen has long been an active member of EA, regularly attending the conference and presenting her relevant research. She was on the Policy and Advocacy Committee (2011-2014) and was invited to re-join again this year. Participating in the EA-UQ MOU, Noreen is the principal supervisor for the ‘Tourism in Protected Areas’ PhD.

Building on her combination of industry experience and academic expertise, Noreen is committed to research that addresses the issues faced when trying to balance the needs of ecotourism operators, government, local people, visitors, and the natural environment.

Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane’s passion is to make a difference in safeguarding our natural assets, building social capital and supporting and enabling resilient regional economies. He works with a small company - Empowering Engagements - to collaborate in facilitating the cross-fertilisation between conserving nature, community action and workplace well-being, aiming to improve prosperity - for individuals, local communities, enterprises and regions.

Peter headed Parks Australia, the Australian government's national park agency for 14 years, initiating and developing key partnerships to deliver valued environmental, social and economic outcomes. He worked closely with indigenous communities to look after country while respecting and supporting the protection of cultural values and community aspirations for self-determination and improved health and education.

Partnering with Tourism Australia he helped develop the National Landscapes initiative - regional collaborations to deliver world class visitor experiences, conservation outcomes, and regional and national benefits.

Michael Collins

Michael is the Principal of ‘CF Global', a Perth based industry consultancy with a strong focus on sustainable tourism projects, representative/destination marketing, sourcing, and procurement.

Over the past 30 years, Michael has carved out a career in hospitality and tourism, starting with senior roles with national hotel group Austotel and then the Swan Brewery. He then took on the lease of the Historic Castle Hotel in York WA, which he successfully ran with his wife Jonine for almost 10 years.

He then went on to spend time with International Hotel Chain Best Western as their regional manager WA/SA/NT and more recently some time with the Caravan Industry Association WA as their Manager membership and business improvement.

Before starting CF Global in 2013, Michael was the Group General Manager for Western Australia’s Hospitality Group, overseeing their operational assets throughout WA including the opening and operation of the multi-award-winning Karijini Eco Retreat. Located in the magnificent Karijini National Park, the Karijini Eco Retreat was an early pioneer of the glamping phenomenon and has been widely recognized as an innovative and progressive leader in Environmental and Indigenous tourism in remote WA since opening in 2006.

Over the years Michael has been an avid volunteer and contributor to the wider tourism industry, serving on a number of industry-related boards and panels including the AHA, Australia’s North West Tourism, ATEC, Backpack WA and is currently a committee member of FACET (Forum Advocating Cultural and Environmental Tourism). Michael is also judge for the Clubs WA awards for excellence.

Michael had previously served on the Ecotourism Australia board between 2010 and 2018, including two years as its deputy chair. He currently serves as an independent (seconded) member of Ecotourism Australia’s Certification Committee.

Wendy Hills

For over 25 years, Wendy has worked in the Australian tourism industry in various marketing and development roles, including destination, product and industry development with a proven expertise in sustainable indigenous tourism and the importance that this sector plays in identifying Australia's cultural strengths and 'point of difference', in a very competitive global marketplace.

She has worked for private enterprise companies, two State Tourism Organisations, Indigenous Business Australia and Tourism Australia as the head of the Australian Experiences team, responsible for the development and marketing of Australia's 7 key experiences, including ‘Natural Australia’ and ‘Aboriginal Australia’.

Wendy joined the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in December 2011, and has managed several portfolios, including Aboriginal cultural tourism development, marketing and campaigns, nature-based tourism and partnership development, and now currently manages the Volunteer and Education Teams, responsible for program development within relevant NSW National Parks and Reserves.

Wendy is a current Director of Ecotourism Australia, and a Board member of the Booderee National Park Joint Board of Management.

Peter Johnson

Peter and wife Kerry conceived and developed the multi-awarded and highly visitor rated Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat (certified Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business) in 2011 and in doing so, developed a passion for ecotourism. Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat attracts visitors from around the globe with international tourists accounting for over 30% of its business. As well as stunning accommodation, gardens and eco-guiding activities the property is currently extending into the area of boutique eco-weddings and small business workshops.  

As a team, Peter and Kerry have strong connections to local tourism. Kerry chairs the Camden Haven Tourism Marketing Committee and is a Board Member of the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association. Peter manages risk and safety for the Slice of Haven and popular food and wine festival.

Peter’s primary career has been in health management.  He has been the CEO or Senior Executive of several hospitals (public and private) ranging from medium size rural hospitals to the Prince of Wales Teaching Hospital complex in Sydney (with 6000 employees) where he developed and honed his skills in corporate governance and strategic planning. As the co-owner and director of a performance benchmarking company for 10 years he has specific skills and training in the area of KPI development, data presentation and analysis, and performance management systems. 

More importantly, Peter has extensive experience in the processes, systems and benefits of accreditation.  He has been a coordinating assessor for hospital, aged care, disability and community accreditation systems since 1993 and has provided accreditation education and support to many health care providers, including remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  This year he extended his accreditation experience into the overseas accreditation market place with work in Sri Lanka.  His understanding of and commitment to accreditation led him seek Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Accreditation for his Treehouse Retreat just 12 months after opening. 

Peter is passionate about the opportunities for the development of small independent ecotourism businesses and their importance to Ecotourism Australia and the Australian tourism industry.

Rick Murray

Rick Murray runs his own tourism consultancy, Middle Star. He is based in Grafton, NSW after spending most of his working life based in Darwin, NT.

Rick Murray, pioneered experience-based, minimal impact tours right across the north of Australia with Odyssey Tours & Safaris, the company he established and developed into an industry leading operation. Odyssey was eventually acquired by a major national resort operator as their touring flagship and Rick remained on their Senior Management team for four years.

He has been actively involved at the ‘coal face’ of nature based tourism for over 30 years and has a detailed knowledge of the interaction between tourism and our natural and cultural heritage right across the north of the continent. His experience covers lands both within Protected Areas and other lands of the north such as Aboriginal Freehold lands and Pastoral Leases. Over the years Rick has spoken at Ecotourism conferences and provided advice in regions as diverse as Sabah Malaysia, Papua New Guinea’s Western Province, Tasmania, Central Australia, the Pilbara and the south and west coasts of the Gulf of Carpentaria, commonly on the interaction between government and private enterprise in the development of a sustainable regional economy.

Over the past three decades he has served on several tourism industry committees and Boards, particularly those focussed on issues affecting our natural and cultural environment and on the continual improvement of industry standards among tour operators and guides. He served as a member of the Advisory Board of Tourism NT from 2006 until 2011. He was Chairman of the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee and a member of the Kakadu National Park Board of Management, from 2002 to 2015. He has been a Director of Ecotourism Australia Ltd since 2006, was Chairman for nearly five years and is currently Deputy Chairman.

Rick served for five years as a Director of the leading, aboriginal owned, tourism business, Nitmiluk Tours Pty Ltd, based in Katherine, NT. He was heavily involved in their major development, Cicada Lodge, in Nitmiluk National Park.

Currently Rick is providing mentoring support to several aboriginal owned and operated businesses in the Central Australia, the NSW South Coast and South East Queensland.

In 2018, Rick was awarded the NT Tourism Minister’s Perpetual Trophy.

www.middlestar.com.au

More info: www.middlestar.com.au

Rosie Sandover

Rosie Sandover is Director of Kingfisher Tours, an aerial adventure tourism company in the North East Kimberley of Western Australia it has been operational for 7 years and is a multi-award-winning business in WA tourism. Kingfisher Tours aim to provide a quality sustainable tourism product, utilizing local content and people. Kingfisher Tours holds ECO and ROC certification with Eco Tourism Australia for the past 6 years and is currently applying for Climate Action Certification.

Rosie works closely with Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Corporation WAITOC, to develop sustainable indigenous tourism products in the North East Kimberley. Rosie’s project management company, RPM Project Management, has operated across remote Western Australia for the last 26 years and has multiple consultancy projects including the development of various tourism sites and businesses -current projects include the development of Luridgii Eco Cultural Tours including the change management of the tour product due to the closure of the Argyle Diamond Mine. RPM also offers pro-bono support for select projects in 2019 we have worked pro bono with Mud Springs community, developing a tourism and aquaculture facility. Rosie is also a member of the Royal Flying Doctor Flying 1000 committee of WA. Rosie has had extensive experience with working Boards and governance.

Rosie has a passion for the East Kimberley, and is providing a sustainable, quality tourism product that show cases the majesty and rich cultural history of the area. Kingfisher works closely with other tourism operators in the area and encourages those companies to align with Kingfishers values including striving for single use plastic free across the company, local Aboriginal employment opportunities, preservation of cultural history and the natural environment. Kingfisher is fast creating a name for itself as a leader in the eco-tourism industry in the Kimberley and WA.

Rosie is committed to seeing Eco Tourism Australia play a stronger and more effective role in the Kimberley. There are partnerships and strategies that can be developed with the key stakeholders in Kimberley Tourism, that will further the profile of Eco Tourism Australia and encourage sustainable practices in tourism in the Kimberley.