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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

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  1. Greg Cole
    19 Aug 11
    3:04 pm
  2. Congratulations on your retirement, Ken. You’re one of lifes all round good guys.

    Thommo, step-up to the big chair, my friend. They need another character at the top!

  3. Fred Ariel
    24 Aug 11
    10:41 am
  4. Ken Hart, the man they could not root, shoot, or electrocute. One of the Industry’s true survivors. All the best Caroline, don’t forget your mouth guard.

    Cheers, Fred.

  5. Maia
    25 Aug 11
    12:24 pm
  6. Congrats uncle Ken!!!

  7. Julie
    25 Aug 11
    12:57 pm
  8. Congratulations brother . Time to sit back and enjoy life . xxx

  9. Kevin Lyons
    30 Aug 11
    5:30 pm
  10. Ken,

    All the best on your retirement and knowing you it will hard to stop and put you feet up, but good luck trying.



  11. david cheeks way
    5 Sep 11
    4:28 pm
  12. All the best in your retirement Ken, it was pleasure to have met and worked alongside you …you’re a bloody good bugger … I hope the Crows get to see lots more of you as I’m sure it wont be long till you’re their number one ticket holder… all the best mate, just one word to sign off on- LEGEND.
    Hooroo, Cheeks.

  13. Irma Versluijs
    9 Sep 11
    5:20 am
  14. Ken, thank you very much for all you have done for our industry. Outback Travel Shop would not have existed without your products to sell and Adventure Tours Australia would not have become one of the largest tour companies in the Southern Hemisphere without you and your business partners having taking the plunge … and another plunge … and another … ;-) Take care Ken and all the best. Stay in touch!

  15. Hoody
    31 Oct 11
    10:01 pm
  16. Hey Ken, you’re not retiring! I know you, its just the beginning. Everyone who ever worked for Ayers Rock Plus, NT Adventure Tours owes you a great deal. You gave everyone an opportunity to do something. Thanks for opportunities you gave me all those years ago. Enjoy

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