My career over the last 30 years in tourism


It doesn’t seem like 30 years ago when I drove up the Bruce Highway from Brisbane in a little red  Ford laser, mattress strapped to the car roof with my ten year old daughter,  more like a hippie from the sixties than the new owner of Olsen’s Caves as it was then known after the cave discoverer’s family.

I was a total novice regarding tourism and caves.   But I was no stranger to hard work and dedication.   The caves were open 7 days a week, and I was the only full -time tour guide and responsible for everything else from cleaning the toilets to promoting the caves.   My late husband focussed on developing the infrastructure and facilities and our school age children helped at weekends, so that we could catch a break.  It truly was 24/7.

But with the help of amazing staff over the years we have taken the caves to the status of five  gold Queensland tourism award wins for attraction, ecotourism and adventure.   I am very proud  that we have responsibly  developed a significant natural asset into an amazing tourist attraction that compliments Queensland’s “perfect the next…”  The journey has been exciting and rewarding; we have always grasped every opportunity offered by our RTO and TEQ to learn, improve, engage but nothing is possible without the support of a great staff team.

I am also very proud of introducing many young people to careers in the tourism industry, some of whom have progressed to being outstanding leaders such as Amanda our General Manager recently appointed a Young Tourism Leader.  Often past staff reflect that it was the best job that they ever had and how they benefited from the multiskilled training and professional development opportunities that we provided at the caves.

So what is my role today, as I step away from daily operations more competently managed by younger staff in this fast moving digital world ?.   I still thoroughly enjoy being engaged with all the happenings and hopefully act as a mentor to staff coming through the ranks.  My main contribution is  special projects like writing grant applications and tourism award submissions.

But the magic and excitement of tourism never dies. Guests are like family – warmly welcomed, offered genuine hospitality and thanked for coming.  Our staff are trained to feel the same way.   We are all thrilled when a guest shows their delight at experiencing the caves, someone  discovers a new fossil bone or we silently watch the little bats circle in the caves before they leave for their night foraging.  Guest satisfaction is an amazing reward.

The next challenge is my responsibility as custodian of this amazing natural wonder with its recently discovered fossil deposits and the preservation of the caves, the rare fauna and flora for future generations.  As my late husband said  “we are but guardians in a moment of time.”


Ann Augusteyn