The year 1985
The Adelaide River Queen Cruises was born over a Christmas drink with a mate in 1984 and was launched in August 1985.
Back in those days Tourism in the Territory could hardly be called an industry, there were no Kakadu and Litchfield Parks and what operators there were, could best be described as very basic nature loving wild men of the bush.
The bitumen road to Ranger Uranium Mine at Jabiru changed all that. Sealed access along the Arnhem Highway opened up a raft of commercial opportunities and tourism, for want of a better word took off.
Paul Hogan and Crocodile Dundee was the catalyst that focused world attention on the Northern Territory and Kakadu National Park. Visitation grew rapidly and millions of people discovered the balmy tropical winter climate the Territory enjoys from May to October. It is without a doubt the most agreeable place to visit and live in during this time of the year.
In 1985 the 'Wild West' best describes the way things were done up here and during this stage in the Territory's evolution, when the bureaucrats were actually helpful, a boat was launched on the Adelaide River.
The owner was full of optimism and hope but without a single customer in sight the business was an abject failure.
The owner, Tony Blums instead of being despondent, set out to develop the Famous Jumping Crocodiles as the star attraction. Paul Hogan without realizing it was instrumental in promoting what was to become the most controversial cruise in Australia. The public loved it.
Ten years later over 100 crocodiles come out to the boats that run under the Adelaide River Queen Cruises banner and the World Famous Jumping Crocodile Cruise is now one of the Northern Territory's best known wildlife attractions, equal in stature to Kakadu National Park and Yulara (Ayers Rock). It is still to this day the only major Northern Territory attraction that is privately owned and operated and it is with great pride that we invite you to join us on what has become one of the world's greatest natural attractions.
Update: 26 years later – the year, 2011
Remember "Paul Hogan" the man who brought humour and identity to a country crying out for international attention. Hogan succeeded beyond anybody's expectations and got home detention for his efforts. They did let him out in the end "thank god" but I doubt that he will ever return.
Remember the bureaucrats that were helpful, that was in the last century (1985) and I do need to say, the territory owes them a lot. As they faded into retirement the new bunch just don't get it.
Regulators have become the Royalty of bureaucracy, these princes and princesses are the ones who ensure nothing gets done. It's time we all started to resist the unproductive royalty in our midst.
Our politicians of the 70's and 80's also deserve a positive mention, they made things happen.
I like Leonard Cohen's, "There's a crack in everything, because that's how the light gets in".
Tourism needs to be interesting and entertaining, visitors don't come to view a wall of regulation, they come to enjoy themselves.
Update: End of February, The year 2013
The government has changed and the debt left by the last one has thrown the economy and living standards into disarray. The locals are demonstrating against having to pay more while still demanding free buses and cheap electricity. Pay your way, says the new government. We are now in, and you are now free to prosper and grow. They say they are the, "free enterprise government", except that this doesn't seem to apply to the compulsory accreditation of tourism businesses.
It would appear that any legitimate business operating as a Tour operator in the NT, and not in the compulsory accreditation program is both ignored and penalised by the government.
Compulsory accreditation is meaningless to visitors, while it makes Tourism in the NT a closed shop. The result is a lazy expensive industry with its snout firmly in the Government trough.
In just six months they have closed the gates on innovation, entrepreneurship, new product investment and growth. Accreditation is a road block to new entrants wanting to invest and compete. This brand of compulsory "unionism" fosters mediocrity and a reliance on Government largesse, it certainly doesn't promote the capital investment or risk taking that is desperately needed to grow and diversify the product offering.
Should I join the accredited club? Mmm… Don't think so.
Update: End of February, The year 2014
The federal government is leading the deregulation push. Where is the territory government? It's time the fun police got a real job. We need entrepreneurs not regulators.
Update: February the year 2015
WOW! Australias gross debt is $320 billion and the interest we pay is $13.2 billion a year. The Kakadu entry fee is going up to $40 pp and it now takes $1.30 Aussie to buy one US dollar.
Our strong point (having a leadership crisis) and our ability to attend upon each other without producing one thing of value to the world is legendary.
As a nation we are broke - morally and economicaly.
Update: July 13th 2015
The Territory Government is waking from its slumber and showing signs it understands it did well and truly dropped the tourism ball. The new management is much better than the old one. There is a lot of catching up to do to ensure that after INPEX there is blue sky ahead and a responsive public service that has a YES tattooed on the tip of their toungue, not the usual NO.
Update: March 2017
It's been a long time since the tourism ball was dropped, picked up again and then passed to the new captain. Will the Chinese tourists save The Top End? Will the new Captain? Or will the box of chocolates be empty again. In hindsight "Accreditation" was a dud and the dead hands of Regulation makes it sure not many will complete the process of starting a new tourist business in the NT. Like all the empty sheds in Darwin's Industrial area's "There aint no letters in the Mailbox."