ATA’s tribute to the newly retired Ken Hart
Greg Zammit from Adventure Tours Australia bids farewell to his business partner of 22 years, Ken Hart, who retired two weeks ago.
Since we first stepped into backpacking hostels in 1991, and then with touring with ‘Ayers Rock Plus’ in 1993, Ken Hart has been an integral part of the Australian backpacking industry.
There have been a few name changes along the way before Adventure Tours Australia Group was formed, but what has remained unaltered is Ken’s passion and entrepreneurial prowess to grow what was his and my business. Staff have always seen Ken as a leader in the backpacker industry, and a ‘father figure’ to many team mates both past and present. Ken has been as robust as the industry has been at times, surviving with the ATA teams through numerous challenges; Sars, Bird Flu, Iraq War, 9/11 and the collapse of Ansett to name a few.
We have shared wonderful memories, laughs, stress and good times over the last 20 years and I will miss him.
For those that have not met Ken, he has an appetite for a no-fuss deal, wants direct dialogue and responds in a coarse voice with colourful language. Don’t be fooled, it’s a disguise for a softer interior and a heart of gold, which only those close to him have unfortunately had the pleasure to see.
Despite a tough domestic market ATAG has a bright, exciting future with great opportunities that are complimented by a group of talented ATA team members. In the coming months Ken will remain in an advisory role to ATA, and while it won’t be the same not having him in the Adelaide office as often, we recognise that it won’t be the same for his wife Carolyn either, having Ken at home a lot more.
Thommo has always called Ken “Sir Syd”; 100 years ago Sydney Kidman bought land around Australia and transported the cattle through his properties ending up in the big cities. Ken must have read his book because 20 years ago Ken did the same with backpackers – transporting travellers on tours via his properties around Australia ending in the main cities. Like Sir Syd, Ken is a pioneer of the backpacker industry and won’t be forgotten in a hurry!
On behalf of ATAG staff and the industry, we wish Ken all the best in his retirement. It’s been a pleasure working with him.
Regards Greg, Thommo, and the team at Adventure Tours