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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 currently Chair of Ecotourism Australia. She is committed to good governance and is keen to see EA play a stronger and more effective role in lifting the profile and importance of quality ecotourism across Australia, including via partnerships with other industry associations. She is interested in growing the value-add EA provides members, particularly through global recognition of our standards (such as the automatic inclusion in TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program).

Claire has worked for over 35 years in tourism starting out running her own small charter expedition cruise company in Asia, then working for other tourism operators, in State Government, as an academic and researcher and most recently as a consultant. She now runs her own consulting company, working across Australia on a range of tourism, regional and volunteer projects focussing on the development of new product and tourism experiences, ensuring they are developed to create sustainable long-term outcomes for communities and the wider region.

Claire is recognised nationally, having chaired the Destination Management Working Group for the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy for Australia for several years, and currently works in most states of Australia as well as her home of Tasmania.

Recent consulting projects include working with SATC and DEWNR to develop a Nature Based Tourism Plan for South Australia and working on Kangaroo Island on Brand and regional tourism programs. Claire also worked with SATC on the South Australian Strategic Tourism Plan 2015-20, worked on national projects including Welcoming Chinese Visitors, and with National Landscapes projects in the Kimberley, Flinders Ranges, Kangaroo Island and Great Ocean Road. She also undertakes work in the volunteer sector and is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania.

Rick Murray Deputy Chairman

Rick Murray runs his own consultancy, Middle Star, offering Tourism Business Development Services to businesses across the north of Australia and beyond. He is now based in Grafton, NSW after spending most of his working life based in Darwin, NT.

Rick Murray, pioneered experience-based, minimal impact tours 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. Until recently he was Chairman of the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee and a member of the Kakadu National Park Board of Management, positions he held since 2002. He has been a Director of Ecotourism Australia Ltd since 2006 and is currently their Chairman. He is also Chairman of Savannah Way Ltd.

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 joint-venture development of Cicada Lodge in Nitmiluk National Park.

His projects include the collaboration on the Experience Development Plan for Australia’s Timeless North and Red Centre National Landscapes and the development of a Visitor Experience Plan for the Garnamarr/Jim Jim/Twin Falls area in Kakadu NP.

In recent times Rick has been providing mentoring support to several aboriginal owned and operated businesses in the Top End, Central Australia, the Kimberley, North West Queensland, Country NSW and Sydney.

In 2016 Rick was appointed Judging Coordinator for the Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards assist with improving business standards in his new home region.

More info: www.middlestar.com.au

Michele Bain

Michele Bain manages Yondah Beach House, a deluxe accommodation business based in SA. Set on 300 secluded oceanfront acres with its own private beaches, Yondah offers guests the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, kangaroos and rare birds in their natural habitat. Yondah holds Advanced Ecotourism Certification, and in 2016, was inducted into the SA Tourism Awards Hall of Fame and named 'Best Deluxe Accommodation' at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards for the second time.

When Michele and her husband Nick purchased Yondah, it consisted of bare paddocks. In 2011, they received a $340,000 Commonwealth Biodiversity grant via Trees for Life to create new habitat for rare local species including the malleefowl, heath goanna and western pygmy possum, and to develop an ‘Australian wildlife and conservation experience’ based around deluxe holiday accommodation. In 2013, with assistance from two TQUAL grants, they extended Yondah, and began construction of a second deluxe beach house. They have also designed and installed a simple 'gravity-powered' water harvesting system that makes both houses 100% water self-sufficient and provides wildlife watering points throughout the property.

Michele's professional background is in brand and communications, particularly in connection with tourism and visitor experiences. For 30 years, she and Nick have operated Designhaus, an Adelaide-based creative consultancy that specialises in brand strategy and design for organisations with a nature-based or tourism focus.

Michele has also served on the Interpretation Australia National Executive and regularly presents a post-graduate elective on heritage interpretation at Flinders University. In 2017, she was appointed to the SA Government's Nature-based Tourism Task Force.

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.

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.

Cameron Costello

Cameron is a Quandamooka man from Moreton Bay off the coast of Brisbane in South East Queensland. Cameron is a law graduate from the University of Queensland and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Leisure Management.

Cameron has worked previously in the legal industry and over 15 years in local and state governments delivering Indigenous policies and programs including the Backing Indigenous Arts Program and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. Cameron is currently the CEO for the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation ‐ the Native Title Body for the native title determination over Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). He has also been the Chair of Minjerribah Camping, a joint venture business between the Quandamooka People and Indigenous Business Australia.

Wendy Hills

Wendy has spent the last 25 years working in the 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 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’.

In November of 2008, Wendy joined Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), the federal agency responsible for assisting Indigenous Australians maximise opportunities for wealth creation through home ownership, businesses enterprise and/or equity investments. 

Wendy joined the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in December 2011, in the role of Manager, Cultural Tourism, responsible for the development of cultural tourism experiences within relevant NSW National Parks and Reserves.

For the past 4 years, she has managed the Tourism and Partnerships Unit, and is currently acting Manager of the Marketing Unit, a key senior management role in the Visitor Experience Branch.

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

Innes Larkin

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.

Robyn Nixon

Robyn's career path has been anything but conventional. After working professionally in theatre for 14 years she entered the travel industry in 1991. She and a friend started a small group adventure travel company taking travellers to India. It was here that she met Darrell Wade, Co-founder of Intrepid Travel, who convinced Robyn to leave New Zealand and work for Intrepid in Melbourne. 

During her 18 years with Intrepid Robyn has headed up International Business Development, Global Sales and Marketing, Commercial, and as General Manager of Peregrine, People and Sustainability. She also spearheaded the work which lead to Intrepidgroup winning 2 DFAT (BPP) supported projects in association with AVI in Myanmar and WWF in Nepal.  This diverse experience means she is well equipped to take up the newly created position of General Manager for the Intrepidgroup’s philanthropic arm, The Intrepid Foundation.

 Over the past 12 months Robyn has directed her focus to providing a clear strategic direction around sustainability, shared value and partnerships for the group. Using this experience she hopes to provide a new era for the Foundation driving sustainable outcomes and greater impact for communities. 

 

Steve Wroe

Steve Wroe is the CEO of Daylesford Macedon Tourism.  He, along with his team, promote and develop one of Victoria's most popular regions.  The area is renowned for it mineral springs, wellness activities, wonderful local produce, excellent wines and natural beauty - all things Steve is passionate about. Prior to this, he was Director of Customer Experience and Destination Planning at Parks Australia, managing the Tourism, Marketing, PR and Communications for all reserves including the iconic Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta National Parks. He spent much of 2017 running Kakadu National Park - an experience he will never forget!

Previously, Steve was the General Manager of Marketing at the Intrepid Group, leading a marketing team which promoted brands such as Intrepid Travel and Peregrine and before that, General Manager of Peregrine Adventures. He has held several other senior roles within the adventure travel industry. Steve has also managed tourism operations in many regions around the world including the Middle East, South East Asia and the Sub-Continent.

Steve has a degree in Tourism Management and Marketing and has divided his career between Marketing and Operations Management. 

Outside work, he is a keen mountain biker, skier and traveller, although his style of travel has changed a bit since the arrival of his two young daughters.