Business Spotlight - Rockhampton Tours & 4WD Training
Published on 11 July 2019
Tony and Helen Davys moved their young family to sunny Rockhampton recently to bring a brand-new business to the tourism and training industry. Rockhampton Tours will offer personalised off-road experiences, either chauffeured or tag-a-long style, with full end-to-end service and catering included. In the training sector, Tony and his team offer corporate or individual clients comprehensive, accredited 4WD instruction for employees to maximise safety in all driving conditions.
Making connections and establishing the 4WD Touring and Training business over the last few months, Tony sees opportunities opening up all around the Region, and a bright future ahead.
With the Fitzroy River emerging from the early morning mist in the background, we asked Tony about his experience settling into the Rockhampton Region, and why he was attracted to the area.
You’ve recently moved to Central Queensland from a small country town near Canberra. What has surprised you about life in the Rockhampton Region?
We first visited Rockhampton in the heatwave in November, when the bushfires came close to sweeping through Gracemere and West Rockhampton. Great timing! Everybody we met apologised about the weather (and we did find it surprisingly hot) but we are really loving the ‘winter’ at the moment.
We have been pleasantly surprised at the friendliness and openness of people here. Rockhampton has that great mix of a small-town feel with all the facilities and resources of a big city, which we find very appealing. It’s been easy to settle.
We’re also surprised that housing here is so affordable – we’re dreaming big about actually owning a place with a bit of acreage where there’s peace and space, yet not very far from town – it’s within reach in the Rockhampton Region, where it isn’t a possibility in many other areas of Australia.
Have you come across any helpful resources while setting up your business that could benefit other tourism operators?
I would definitely say that taking up a place in the SmartHub in the city centre is the single best thing I could have done. It’s been invaluable in developing my business ideas – from bouncing thoughts off others, hooking up with a business coach and other experts, and attending many free or low-cost training events to get up to speed with technology. I don’t think I could have established myself so well just working from my small home space. And to be honest, the air conditioning and comfortable surroundings were also quite a drawcard!
I would also encourage other operators to take advantage of the enthusiasm, industry knowledge and contacts of the Advance Rockhampton staff. They have encouraged me every step of the way and believe me, that’s a massive difference compared to running my business single-handedly in New Zealand, with minimal support.
What do you see as future trends in the local tourism and training sectors?
From many years of leading groups through camping, sight-seeing and travelling to every corner of our wide brown land, I see that tourists are increasingly looking for that unique and personalised holiday, rather than the ‘herd’ experience - especially those that travel to Australia from highly-populated countries. These tourists are seeking adventure with remoteness and isolation, if only for a few days. Travellers are also looking for value for money and having a knowledgeable guide who gets excited about the Australian bush and can point out what most people would miss as they go by. It creates a memorable moment and sets the experience apart from any other.
There are so many opportunities for collaboration in the existing tourism industry in the region, and I’m excited to work on package deals and offering a wide variety of tours to suit every style for individuals, families or groups. The idea is to have tourists, from grey nomads through to overseas visitors, use Rockhampton as a jump-off point to take a few extra days to explore the region - further afield if they wish.
In the training sector regionally, there’s a high ratio of people who regularly travel as part of their work. We see the widening need for employers to protect their outlay in people and equipment by investing in practical, all-inclusive training. From changing a tyre on a dusty, lonely road to building confidence in handling a large vehicle in outback conditions, today’s employee needs to know what to do in any situation with a 4WD. I’m passionate about teaching advanced driving skills and raising safety and road awareness in every driver.