Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Where else but Sydney!
ATE, Sydney Circa 2013

Daintree Rainforest by the Sea
World-Heritage Daintree
Self-Explanatory Business Card
A Map!!

Sydney Town Hall

Interior of  Sydney Town Hall

The "before" of the restaurant at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island

Me on the deck surrounding the pool; and a view of Orchid Beach at Cape Richards...where the resort was

Part of the Noosa Hinterland

A post on Carol’s blog - “Walking Through Clouds” - in which she referred to the ATE, otherwise known as the “Australian Tourist Exchange” being held in Cairns over the past few days is my prompt for this story/post. 

For the first time in the 35 year history the ATE  (The Australian Tourism Exchange) has been held in a regional city.  This year, 2014, the ATE was held in the beautiful city of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland.  The city and its surrounds alone have enough to offer discerning international buyers and their prospective, inquisitive, adventurous holiday-makers; enough to keep them happy and occupied; or happy and slothfully-relaxed at leisure for as long as they choose.

For instance – a couple of examples - the Great Barrier Reef is at Cairns’ doorstep; or just a swim/scuba dive away. Just “up the road a bit” is the world-heritage Daintree Rainforest, a tropical rainforest region that encompasses around 12,000 square kilometers in area. The Daintree, north of Cairns; north of Port Douglas and Mossman is an awesome, magnificent area where the rainforest caresses the edge of the sea. And no one will go hungry.  A wealth of good eateries offering a bounty of fresh foods wait with their doors open; cutlery polished and plates warmed.

All of Australia is represented at the ATE, not just Far North Queensland - the Tropical North.

Back to the ATE…the hugely-important, huge trade fair where it all begins... 

The Australian sellers each have their own booth. The booths are set up with promotional equipment, brochures etc., showing the beauty, the attractions, activities of the properties/business they represent. The international buyers are greeted upon entering the booth, and then the international “buyers” – the overseas tour operators, travel agents; the clients - ask the questions they want to ask, and to the best of the seller’s ability, answers are provided.

Appointments are pre-booked long before the ATE begins; long before the overseas visitors set their feet on our fair shores.

Prior to the event the international clients are asked to fill in forms by stating what their requirements are; what they are looking for to satisfy their particular clients/customers. In turn, the Australian sellers complete their requisite forms; the questions therein are answered as to the market they are aiming for; what type of clientele/tourist they are looking for; those they believe will suit their properties; those holidaymakers/tourists who are in search of what their, the seller’s, particular “product” has to offer.

In 1986, as I’ve mentioned many times in previous posts/stories, I managed the Cape Richards Resort on Hinchinbrook Island in far North Queensland.  Along with being the manager of the resort, I also bore the banner of “Sales/Marketing Manager”. 

As an aside...due to the sometimes wicked, devastating, unforgiving hands of Mother Nature (in this instance, in the form of Cyclone Yasi that crossed the far north coast 3rd February, 2011; and by mismanagement/handling by the resort's owners; and, also, distressingly by the useless hands of some brainless vandals, the wonderful island resort no longer exists.  It’s now a pile of rubble).  The disturbing images on the site below tell the heartbreaking story.  I shed tears when I see this footage.

1986 brought many changes for me; personal and career-wise; as it did for the annual Trade Fair originally called “The Market Place”. 

The Market Place started in 1979. Initially it only serviced the North American market; but rapidly it gained world-wide attention and interest. Soon word had passed around, and buyers from Europe, Asia, the UK and New Zealand were beating down our doors desirous of being participants. 

In 1986 the trade fair, for the first time, became known as the “ATE – The Australian Tourist Exchange”. The event extended over seven days; seven days of non-stop talking; non-stop selling; non-stop marketing/networking.  In the evenings the selling/marketing continued over dinners etc.

There was no rest for the wicked, or for the good.

I’d only been on Hinchinbrook Island for a couple of months in my new role as manager; having arrived during the first week in February, 1986 - when I was informed I had to attend the ATE being held in Sydney in June.

I had absolutely no idea what an ATE was; let alone what I was supposed to do at it!  But I quickly got my gear into gear because I had no time to waste to get my proverbial into gear!  It was then I had the title “Sales/Marketing Manager” tagged to my “achievements”…achievements I’d not yet achieved!

With about six weeks left between me and the commencement of the ATE, I barely had room to breathe.  The race was on.

The first item I had to attend to was organise and produce a sales/marketing video, pitching the resort and island’s attractions. 

Bear in mind, I was living on an island, not on the mainland where everything was within reasonably easy reach - at my fingertips, if I was lucky.  I still had the resort to run; staff and guests to take care of, while trying to find out all that I could about this strange thing called the “ATE”.

Fortunately, I knew someone from my Noosa days who had worked with my ex-husband when both were in the real estate industry.  

Peter, a keen photographer and documentary-maker, albeit still in the early baby-step stages, had left real estate to follow his dreams.  He and his wife set up their own small photography/film business in the Noosa Hinterland – just the two of them.  I reached out to Peter.  Explaining the urgency of my situation/predicament, I asked (pleaded) if he and his wife would be interested in coming to the island as soon as possible (like yesterday!), all expenses covered, to do some filming. I explained a video needed to be produced to enable me to show to my prospective clientele the ATE; and I also informed him I'd need numerous copies to hand to my “buyers” so they could show it to their prospective customers – who would, hopefully, become mine. 

Of course, on top of the “all expenses covered”, Peter would be paid whatever his fee was for doing such a job.

Peter jumped at the chance, thank goodness!  One problem solved! No time to relax, however…there was still much more that needed my undivided (most of the time divided) attention. 

During my appearance at the ATE in Sydney I was expected to attend, amongst many other evening business gatherings, the formal opening of the ATE. The ATE opening was to occur on the first night of the first day. The stylish, social occasion was being held at the Sydney Town Hall. 

The lavish, heritage-listed building was constructed in the 1880.  The building may not seem old for some who live in areas of the Northern Hemisphere; but, here in Australia, the lucky and relatively-young country, it is classed as being “old”.  The Town Hall was/is constructed from local Sydney sandstone. It was constructed in reverent honour of Queen Victoria (or in the style of the era).

I really didn’t have anything in my wardrobe suitable for a formal evening of kind.  

The previous seven years I'd spent living in the Noosa/Sunshine Beach/Coolum area (note “beach”); and then I relocated to live on a tropical island.  Formal social evenings weren’t part of my social calendar; nor were the appropriate clothes needed to attend such auspicious occasions.  If that wasn't enough to raise my blood pressure, I had no time to spare to go off the island to the mainland to do personal clothes’ shopping. 

To find what I was seeking I’d need to go to one of the cities, preferably Brisbane; but that was out of the question.  There was no way I’d be able to leave the island to fly to Brisbane for shopping spree (and there also would be no way I'd have time when I arrived in Sydney for clothes' shopping).

On top of the inconvenience, I always hated shopping for clothes when in search of a particular outfit.  During such nerve-wracking, stressful times, I never had success in finding what I was looking for. For some crazy reason, I only have success in that department when I’m not looking for a particular item.  Plus having to find and buy an evening gown made me squirm…I just couldn’t “see” myself in one. 

Don’t misunderstand me…I used to attend every ball in the ball seasons when I was a teenager in Gympie; but I’d given away going to balls by the time I reached my early 20s.   

After leaving Gympie to work and live in Brisbane I worked in the fashion industry for 14 years. I dressed well; but ball gowns were, by then, out of the equation; out of mine, anyway.  And I had no intention of bringing them back in again!

Then I had a brilliant “light bulb moment”!  Forget evening gowns; I wanted a ladies’ evening tuxedo!  My heart became set on a tuxedo; but I still had the dilemma of living on the island.  I didn’t carry women’s tuxedos in the little resort shop that took up a small amount of space next to my island office!

Computers and online shopping were things of the future for me in May, 1986,;but I did let my fingers do the walking.  I probably rang every major department store and boutique between Melbourne and Hinchinbrook Island in search of my dream…my tuxedo!

Along with organising the marketing video, I had to get my head together to write the copy to match the video images.  Fortunately, I knew a couple of people in the radio industry; radio announcers - so the island's one and only telephone line came in handy there, too.  I rang around in search of someone with a suitable voice, to do the "voice-over"on the video. I told them I would supply, compose the copy needed to be read in due course ("due course", too, had a stringent time limit attached to it).

It was all systems go!

To be continued……


  1. Lee, so nice to read this and thought that ATE14 would bring up some memories for you. I will try to post some pics before the end of the week for you.

  2. You have had so many adventures. I look forward to the rest of the story AND to hear if you found a lady tuxedo.

  3. Carol you really triggered off some good memories. The ATE is full-on, but it was a wonderful event. I look forward to seeing your pics when you find the time. :)

  4. G'day Lynn. Yes...I did have a few interesting moments...did some things I never thought I'd do...a lot of good memories remain of those sometimes crazy times. My life is much quieter these days...and I like it this way - just me and my two furry, four-legged mates.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  5. Great story, Lee. But I thought the video particularly sad in that, as Bob Katter says, no one is willing to take responsibility.

  6. I feel sad, very sad, too, when I see that video, Robyn. I cried...I'm not exaggerating. The island and the resort that was upon it are very dear to my heart.

    Of course, no one wants to take responsibility. Ben Williams has walked away from it. The vandals got to it. A friend of mine who worked for me on the island...he was my chef during our time there - told me last year a friend of his was interested in purchasing the resort and rebuilding - but it was all too much. Too much red tape. It would be tearing up dollars. The last we heard was that the Chinese were looking at it...but that was a few months ago now...so I don't know what's going on.

    It is very sad to see it in this state.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  7. Beautiful photos.
    Port Douglas and the Daintree are on my list of places to see when I win the lottery. It's quite a long list, I may have to delete a few if I don't win soon.

  8. I, like you, am forever trying to win the Lotto...but I won't give up! As the saying goes, River..."you've got to be in it, to win it!"

    Here's hoping we both strike it lucky soon. :)

    The Daintree really is breathtaking...and when you get up around Cape Tribulation with Thornton's Peak lording over the area...it's a beautiful part of the world.

    I hope one day you are able to visit the area. :)

  9. Such a fuss yet you would have always been in control.

  10. I tried to be, Adullamite...after all, that was what I was being paid for. It's amazing what taking a few deep breaths and putting a smile on your face can do!

  11. The video showed the graceful beauty of the Island but shameless human acts of vandals. I am sorry I have never nor will ever understand that mentality. All I can say about 1986 is that you were lucky to have a working phone and know people to call on for help. Looking forward to the next chapter. Peace

  12. Hello Lady Di...the damage you saw on the video happened in 2011; destruction caused by Cyclone Yasi; and the vandalism shortly there after.

    I, too, will never understand the mentality of those who vandalise. And why those who vandalised the resort on Hinchinbrook Island would want to jump into their boats and go across to the island to vandalise the already damaged resort buildings is beyond my comprehension.

    When I was living on the island everything was in good working order; including the phone, my staff and me!

    Thanks for popping in, Miss Kitty. :)

  13. I so want to go to Australia.

  14. And we'd love to have you, RK! :)

  15. Please don't take this the wrong way, but there have been times when you seemed to be rather slow. For I would think that an accomplished chef (like yourself) would be well aware of what people ate.

  16. It used to interest me once upon a time what people ate, Jerry...and it used to amuse me when I watched it go down the wrong way! ;)

  17. I hear that crocs never have a problem with food going down the wrong way. Is this true?

  18. When I write a story about crocs, you'll discover, no doubt, Jerry.

    And I do have a tale or two about crocodiles, but perhaps none as exciting as you may hope of my catching one by the tail.

    I'd hazard a guess, however, and say crocs and gators ate and swallowed in a similar way but I've never stood close enough to a crocodile, nor to an alligator to hear to confirm this.

  19. Yeah, I ain't volunteering to find out first-hand.

  20. Me, neither. I can think of many other fun things to do. :)

  21. Whew, I'm tired even reading this. Sounds like a lot of stress to me but when you're young you can handle it, can't you. Lucky you had all those contacts to call on. Sounds like you have had a very interesting life Lee.

  22. Very sad video about the resort's demise.

  23. Hi Helsie...it was more exciting than stressful. I was in my early 40s; in a new job; living on an island...everything about it was exciting and a challenge. It was great. :)

  24. Hi Dexter...yes, it is very sad to see the destruction of what was once a wonderful place.

    But cyclones and vandals will never be able to destroy my memories.

    Nice to see you, Dexter. Thanks for coming by. :)

  25. Hey there Pat....thanks for dropping and reading my post. It's always good to see you. :)

  26. Oh! My sister lived in Australia during the 1990's. She loved Cairns! I remember she told me that it is pronounced like "tin CANS"!
    What a beautiful part of the world, I am very thankful that you share your photos and memories.

  27. That is correct, Kay that is how "Cairns" is pronounced. It's a beautiful neck of our woods, so to speak! :)

    I'm glad you enjoy my ramblings. Thanks for coming by. :)

  28. Cairnes is pronounced Kay? Yeah, that makes perfect sense--just like Worcester is pronounced Wooster and Leicester is pronounced Lester. Of course, massive amounts of adult beverages are required to get there, but what price is that to pay to insure that one really is where they are in a phonetic sense--right?

  29. Whoa, I just caught that I should have said Cans instead of Kay as the proper pronunciation of Cairnes, and I got there without the consumption of massive amounts of adult beverages! How is that for smarts?

  30. I also just caught that I substituted "that" for "too high" in my previous attempt to ask, "...but what price is too high to pay to insure that one really is where they are in a phonetic sense--right?" Does this mean that I am a natural at having senior moments? Methinks it does. WOO HOO!

  31. "Cairns" not spelled as "Cairnes", Jerry.

    You're getting yourself all tongue-tied and in a twist here! lol

    Cairns was founded 1876. The city was named after William Wellington Cairns, the then Governor of Queensland. It was formed to serve miners heading for the Hodgkinson River goldfield, but experienced a decline when an easier route was discovered from Port Douglas. It later developed into a railhead and major port for exporting sugar cane, gold and other metals, minerals and agricultural products from surrounding coastal areas and the Atherton Tableland region. As of June 2012, the population is approximately 142,528.

    The word "cairn" itself is of Scottish-Gaelic origin.

    And remember there is no "e" in Cairns...just lots of happy locals and tourists.