Finke, Heenan family among Brolga winners tonight


p2297-Brolga-HeenansBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The Heenan family tonight won their 24th Brolga – out of 29 in the history of the awards – for their MacDonnell Range Caravan park.
They lost once and did not contest the award on four other occasions “to give others a go,” says Mr Heenan.
The Finke Desert Race, a new entrant, competing against five contenders, won the “festivals and events” Brolga. Antony Yoffa collected the trophy on behalf of his big volunteer team whose efforts this year pumped $6m into the local economy – with just one paid employee.
Tony Mayell, CEO of Tourism NT, said the increase in the number of entrants this year showed the growing unity of the industry, “standing shoulder to shoulder” in difficult times.
Tourism Minister Adam Giles presented the perpetual trophy, known as the Big Bird, to Geoff McGeary OAM.
He developed an outback camping business, traveling into the remotest parts, into an international operation.
Mr McGeary said that’s where he had learned to care for people, his guests. He also paid tribute to Ian Conway, with whom he developed King’s Creek Station.
There were several other winp2297-Brolga-Finkeners from Central Australia.
Hospitality teacher with CDU Nick de Silva, 28 years in the NT, took out the Outstanding Contribution trophy.
Alice born and bred publicity dynamo Dale McIver won the tourism industry employee award.
Another local winner was the Tourism Central Australia visitor centre in Todd Mall.
The Uluru Camel Tours took several awards.
AAT Kings won the major tour and transport operators award. It has 120 staff in the NT.
Lasseters Hotel was chosen the winner of the Deluxe Accommodation category.
p2297-Brolga-crowd-2The Glen Helen Homestead won “hosted accommodation”.
The Alice Springs Convention Centre took out the Business Event Venue Brolga.
Maraku at Uluru, 30 years in the industry, clinched the business growth award, getting applause when Pamela Taylor, walking on crutches, accepted the trophy. The firm had won a Brolga 20 years ago.
PHOTOS: The Finke “crew” with Antony Yoffa in the middle • Brendan and Bev Heenan • The dinner crowd tonight.
UPDATE 3pm Nov 24:
Tony Mayell, CEO of Tourism NT which runs the Brolgas, provided this statement in response to readers’ comments about bed bugs at Glen Helen:
“When I ran Yulara [the Ayers Rock Resort] we had about six cases of bed bugs as has every resort and hotel in Australia.
“Probably the most frustrating problem facing caravan parks right through to five star luxury hotels around the world.”


  1. Congratulations to all the winners. It is great to see Nick deSilva get such well-deserved recognition for all the hard work that he has put in over the years.

  2. Well said Paul, congratulations to all, especially Nick de Silva, taught both Tom and Fran fospitality skills, stood them in good stead.

  3. Glen Helen scored the “hosted accommodation” award! Well earned, I’d say, given that when I stayed there earlier in the year they were doing an outstanding job of “hosting” a plague of bed bugs.
    Spent several hundred dollars on bed bug traps etc to ensure my own home wasn’t infested and endured about a week afterwards with unbearable itchy bites all over my body. Well done, Glen Helen!

  4. Alice, I had the same experience, bed bugs infested the room I stayed in, one of the rooms facing the river and cliff.
    Dozens of the critters were literally dropping off the ceiling onto us all night long.
    When I complained to management they said it was “an industry wide problem” which may be true but Glen Helen had them in plague proportions.
    As I left they gave me a black plastic bag and advised me to keep my clothes in the bag and leave it in the sun for a few days to kill the bugs.
    The bags were kept on the counter so it seemed standard procedure to provide departing guests with them.
    They didn’t work, a month later I was still trying to eradicate the bugs from my house.
    My wife reacted to the bites and was covered with red lumps.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here