Thursday, October 26, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Amanda Pelagalli, Managing Director of Wake House Australia and the creative mind behind Mackay Adventure Tours and Transfers, has received the 'Outstanding Contribution by an Individual' award at the Mackay Isaac Tourism Awards. Her journey from hosting pro wakeboarders to transforming Mackay's tourism landscape is a testament to the untapped potential of the region.
It all began in 2019 when Amanda and her husband, Dan, revived the wake park at Wake House Australia, one of only eight wake parks in the country. Hosting international pro wakeboarders meant they soon found themselves showcasing the region to their foreign guests. As these athletes explored the region's hidden gems, Amanda and Dan inadvertently became tour guides, offering experiences that piqued the interest of adventure seekers.
These experiences, as well as more than a few nights having someone camped on their couch, sowed the seeds for a grand vision: the establishment of Mackay Adventure Tours and Transfers and the Mackay Adventure Lodge. With an unwavering commitment to developing Mackay's reputation as an adventure haven, Amanda embarked on a journey that has significantly impacted the tourism industry in the region.
Today, Mackay Adventure Tours and Transfers offers a variety of tours, attracting tourists from around the world. The 'Beach Sunrise with the Wallabies' (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and 'Platypus Paradise Tour' (Tuesday and Thursday) are among their popular offerings.
“Local referrals have been our biggest win,” Amanda said.
“Friends and family, hotels and motels, the Mackay Airport and Marina teams and the volunteers at the Information Centres have all helped to get the tours up and running to what they are today. Our departures are guaranteed so when people book they know the tour will run regardless.”
Yet, Amanda's influence goes beyond tourism. Her tours incorporate local artisans and small businesses, offering them a platform to thrive. Amanda believes that supporting one another is the key to positive change in the community. This approach has made her tours not just about tourism but also about community development.
“Transfers for Christmas parties to the Sarina Sugar Shed, The Flackyard and One Hungry Mumma in Finch Hatton have also been popular this year,” she added.
Her enthusiasm and commitment were rewarded with the 2023 Travellers' Choice Award from TripAdvisor, placing her tours in the top 10% of attractions worldwide. This recognition reflects the heartfelt feedback and reviews from delighted guests.
“A huge thank you goes to our tour guide, Michelle, who has worked hard to perfect the tour experience. The feedback we receive from travellers about Michelle is phenomenal.”
Amanda’s advocacy for Mackay as a thriving tourism hub is a call to action for others to join in shaping the region's future. As Amanda aptly puts it, “Mackay Issac Tourism CEO Al Grundy says it all the time, ‘an incoming tide rises all boats,’ highlighting the need for collective effort to elevate tourism in the region.
“The way we see it, you can sit on the sideline and complain that there is nothing to do in Mackay or you can be part of the change, it's as simple as supporting the people and businesses who are making the change.”
Amanda and Dan at the Adventure Lodge