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Meet Our Directors

oqta_002Stuart Mackenzie, Chairman


Stuart is a pastoralist from the western area of Quilpie Shire. He is the owner and Manager of Plevna Downs, a grazing enterprise dealing in organic wool, sheep and beef. Stuart served as a Councillor on Quilpie Shire Council from 1997 to 2004, as Deputy Mayor from 2004 to 2008 and was elected Mayor in 2012. He is Chair of the Outback Queensland Tourism Association. In 2008 Stuart founded the non-profit, charitable public company Outback Gondwana Foundation Ltd. He is the Chair and a Director on the board. The company was set up to preserve the natural assets of the south west region and educate the public in relation to the amazing paleontological discoveries being made there. Stuart holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree (QUT) and is married to wife Robyn and has 2 adult children.



Julia Woodhouse, 

Boulia Shire Council Representative


I have been employed by the Boulia Shire Council since 2001 and in that time I have worked for five years as a tourism officer in the Min Min Encounter, worked five years in the Library and have been the Community Services Manager since 2011. I have had a long association with Boulia spanning over thirty years.
I have been a volunteer for many organisations in Boulia and been President of three of them including the Boulia Camel Races, a position I held for six events retiring from the committee this year.
I certainly understand the importance of tourism especially in this region of the Far West where the remoteness and weather fluctuations have a large impact on visitor numbers.
Promotion of the Far West needs to be vigorous and ongoing if we are to reap the benefits that tourism brings such as economic stability.




Tania Kernaghan, Ambassador


Australian through and through, Tania Kernaghan is one of this country’s most loved and respected performers.
Whether it’s singing up a storm on stage, emceeing a black tie event, sharing her life’s journey through public speaking events or rolling up her sleeves to help out with one of her much-loved charities. Tania is a passionate OQTA Board member and continues to fly the flag proudly for Outback Queensland.




Belinda Murphy, Mayor of McKinlay Shire Council


Belinda Murphy moved to the North West in 1999 and feel in the Outback. Working as a fixed wing  pilot on cattle stations in areas from the Gulf to Camooweal and south to Kynuna and Channel areas. I moved into Julia Creek in 2004 and after working for Council  became Mayor for the McKinlay Shire in 2012. As the Mayor my portfolios include Tourism where I  have a strong drive and passion not only for our shire’s tourism potential but all the shire’s that complement the outback region as a whole. I believe that Tourism is a critical driver in long term sustainability for the region and that promotion of the area and its genuine unique experiences will set us apart from other destinations. Taking a position on the board in 2012 representing MITEZ(the Mount Isa Townsville Economic Zone) I have been part of the OQTA board for four years and is also took on the position of  Vice Chair in 2016.





Steve Rattray, Sales Manager at Imparja Television


Having lived in the Alice Springs for 28 years and been heavily involved in the tourism industry, I understand the issues that affect outback tourism and difficulty and challenges of operating in remote regions.Whilst in Alice Springs I was fortunate enough to be able to take on a diverse range of roles within the community such as;

Vice Chairman and Board Member – Alice Springs Regional Tourist Association

Vice Chairman and Board Member – Central Australian Tourist Industry Association

Chairman and Board Member – Tourism Central Australia

President and Board Member – YMCA Central Australia

Chairman and Board Member – Road Safety Council NT – Southern Region

President – SKAL Alice Springs

Vice Chairman – Alice Enterprise

Board member – Footprints Forward Inc. (Indigenous Employment and Training Group)

Board member – Alice Springs Squash Association

I have been with Imparja Television for 11 years, firstly as National Sales Manager and for the last 5 years as Queensland Sales Manager.I’m passionate about the tourist industry and in my current position I have been fortunate enough to be able to help a lot of small events grow with the help of TV advertising.



Andrew Martin, Mayor of the Blackall-Tambo Regional Council


Andrew Martin (Dip. Rural Business. Dip. Agriculture) is a fourth generation grazier from Tambo with a long history of involvement in agricultural politics, public company directorships and local, private business interests.

From this background Andrew has a passion for his region and belief in the adaptability of its people to embrace and merge tourism as part of the Inland’s core business.

Andrew is married with four children and lives on “Macfarlane Station” Tambo, with his wife, Louise and his youngest children, twin girls Alice and Isobel.

He is Mayor of the Blackall Tambo Regional Council and is very much looking forward to being a part of Outback Queensland Tourism.


011Carmel Meurant, Tourism Development Officer of Paroo Shire Council


Carmel has lived in the South West for most of her life and has been involved with Tourism in Outback Queensland for 20 years.
She served as a Councillor on the Paroo Shire for 5 years prior to taking on her current role of Economic Development and Tourism Manager in 2011.
She developed and managed “Nardoo Station Stay” in the Cunnamulla area for 11 years
Now living at Wandilla Station near Eulo, she runs a small station stay as well as planning and managing a country music festival, “Music In The Mulga” in May each year and has been doing so for the past 9 years.
Carmel is passionate about the Outback and Tourism and bringing these together to further develop a sustainable, high quality tourism industry with positive economic impacts for the future of Outback Queensland.






oqta_001Robyn Stephens, Secretary


As a lifetime resident of Winton I believe I have a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities of outback tourism, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to promote tourism across the greater Outback region for many years.

As event coordinator of the iconic biennial Winton Outback Festival for the past 30 years I have had involvement in event planning and management. Robyn has been a Board Member of the Outback Qld. Tourism Association since 2010, Winton’s Waltzing Matilda Centre since 2005 and previously a Winton Shire Councillor.

Previous employment before retirement in 2009 was serving 23 years with the Pastoral Company Elders. I enjoy volunteering my services to multiple local organizations, and I have a huge interest in tourism which is a mainstay of the economic benefits for all our Outback communities.

Robyn has established networks and relationships with tourism operators and stakeholders within the tourism industry, and believes events are the driving force behind Tourism in the Outback to ensure sustainability for the investment in our tourism industry.



Natalie Flecker, Manager of the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo


Natalie Flecker was appointed Manager the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere in 2013. She has a wide range of experience in the corporate sector, small business and tourism and events. Natalie has a business degree from James Cook University and worked in high level commercial banking for eight years.She became the joint owner of Yongola Lodge in Townsville in 2008 and prior to heading up the Isa Rodeo, was the business event executive for Townsville Enterprise Convention Bureau. As part of her role at the rodeo, Ms Flecker has introduced a range of initiatives from Isa Rodeo Schools to the first “glamping” for Outback Queensland.


oqta_003Elaine Jacobie, Treasurer


Elaine grew up on a grazing property in South Africa and worked as an accountant for 10 years in the rural town of Aliwal North. In April 2007, Elaine, her husband and two children took the plunge and moved from South Africa to Longreach to join Ringrose Button Chartered Accountants. Elaine became part of the OQTA team as treasurer from January 2015.

Elaine enjoys the country lifestyle with the beautiful weather and sunsets that Western Queensland has the offer. Elaine enjoys being involved in local community activities and organisations.

Qualifications & Memberships
– Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants
– Baccalaureus Computation (Bachelor of Accounting)




Steve Jones, QLD State Manager for REX Airlines

Steve started out life in the Finance sector, working as a foreign exchange dealer for corporate, and banking sector major companies. Following this he enjoyed almost 15 years in international and domestic tourism working with large maritime and aviation tour operators in operations, Sales, and General Management positions in Japan and Queensland.
Since 2006 he has worked with regional airlines, and has been fortunate to have had a heavy involvement with the Outback in those roles. Based on his experience Steve believes Tourism has a major part to play in the future economy of Outback Queensland, and one he is committed to continuing in his current role as State Manager for Qld for Regional Express (Rex) Airlines.
Rex Airlines is Australia’s largest independent Regional Airline, operating to regional areas across Australia. 2015 saw Rex increase its Queensland ports of call from 7 to 24, with 15 of these being in the OQTA area of responsibility.
Steve’s experience and industry knowledge will help drive the success of tourism in Queensland’s Outback, building strategies for new markets and working within tourism distribution channels to turn good intentions into firm bookings for visitation to the region.



Michelle Hespe, Editor in Chief of The CEO Magazine


Michelle Hespe is the Global Editor in Chief of The CEO Magazine, for Australia, New Zealand, Asia, India and Europe. Prior to this role, she launched National Geographic Traveller magazine in Australia and New Zealand. Michelle has 20 years’ experience in the publishing industry – with most of those years spent focussing on travel, the arts and environment, people, food, business and news. She is also a presenter on Sky News’ Business Class, speaking about high-end travel for executives. Michelle has a great love of Australia and regional and outback travel. She is passionate about taking care of the planet for the next generation and has believed from a young age that life is for learning and living, and that anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it.




Bruce Wallace

Director at Tourism & Events Queensland


Bruce Wallace is currently the Director of Consumer Marketing with Tourism and Events Queensland. He has more than 25 years’ experience with the Queensland tourism industry and has held several board positions with regional tourism organisations during this time.  Through his involvement with the Tidy Towns Awards, Bruce served on the board of Keep Australia Beautiful (Qld) for more than 10 years. In 1996, Bruce was awarded the Qantas Churchill Fellowship and undertook an international research program to investigate regional tourism organisations. Bruce has a Bachelor of Arts in Leisure Management and a Master of Business in Tourism Development.