Chair of OQTA Board, MITEZ Representative and Mayor of McKinlay Shire Council
Belinda Murphy moved to the North West in 1999, working as a fixed wing pilot on cattle stations in areas from the Gulf to Camooweal and south to Kynuna and Channel areas. Belinda moved into Julia Creek in 2004 and after working for Council, she became Mayor for the McKinlay Shire in 2012. As the Mayor, her portfolios include tourism where she has a strong drive and passion for not only the shire’s tourism potential but all local governments in OQTA’s footprint.
Belinda believes 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 the region apart from other destinations. Taking a position on the board in 2012 representing MITEZ (the Mount Isa Townsville Economic Zone), Belinda is now the proud chair of the OQTA board.
Robyn Stephens OAM
Event Manager of the Outback Festival, Secretary & Central-West Representative
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 OQTA 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.
Accountant at Ringrose Button Accounts and 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)
Manager of the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo and Far-West Representative
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 to 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.
Owner of BooBook Eco Tours and South-West Representative
Meryl currently sits on the Management Committee of the Roma Tourism Association and is the business manager for BOOBOOK (Ecotours).
Meryl has a long history in the local community and a strong farming and natural resource management background. Living and working in Regional Queensland her whole life, Meryl has a wide breath of experience. After growing up on a cattle and cropping property she completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Natural Systems & Wildlife Management before working in Landcare and Catchment Management; for Local and State government Agencies; and Origin, a large integrated energy company. In 2000 Meryl, and her husband Craig, started an ecological consulting business called BOOBOOK which continues today in Roma. Meryl is the Business Manager of BOOBOOK, which recently also diversified into ecotourism. Meryl is actively involved in a number of local community groups and continues to operate and manage their family farm, one of her many passions.
Councillor of Boulia Shire Council and Far-West Representative
Originally from Brisbane, Rebecka had the pleasure of family holidays in the Outback as a child. This instilled her love of the Outback life and made a life for herself family in Boulia since 2008. Bec feels as though she has ‘had the best of both worlds’ and has a greater appreciation for where she lives and what the Outback has to offer in lifestyle, entertainment and unique beauty.
Bec has found her passion for advocacy for the region through role as Deputy Mayor of the Boulia Shire Council and takes great pride in being a part of community organisations that exposures Outback Queensland’s region and events. This is all in mind with goals of sustainable growth, building capacity and resourcefulness.
Mayor of the Quilpie Shire Council
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 was the Chair of the Outback Queensland Tourism Association from 2015 – late 2017.
In 2008 Stuart founded the non-profit, charitable public company Outback Gondwana Foundation Ltd. He is the Chair and a Director on the board of this organisation. 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.
Queensland State Manager of 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.
Consultant – Tourism Plus
An experienced marketing and communications professional with over 27 years in senior management roles within the tourism industry. Most recently, as a marketing executive with Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and responsible for domestic marketing, media planning and strategic marketing partnerships. Since leaving TEQ, Bruce has set up a boutique consultancy business, Tourism Plus. Bruce is looking to use his knowledge and expertise to “give back” to an industry that he is so passionate about.
Bruce has a strong strategic focus based on interpreting consumer insight and research into practical and results driven tourism outcomes. He has held several board positions with regional tourism and industry associations throughout his career. Bruce was awarded the Qantas Churchill Fellowship for Tourism and undertook an international research program to investigate regional tourism organisations throughout the USA and Canada. Bruce has a Master of Business in Tourism Development and Bachelor of Arts in Leisure Management.
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.
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.
Mayor of the Blackall-Tambo Regional Council and RAPAD representative.
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.