Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Red Cat Adventures celebrates double win at Qantas Australian Tourism Awards

Red Cat Adventures celebrates double win at Qantas Australian Tourism Awards
March 19, 2022

Owners Asher and Julie Telford are today celebrating their seven-year-old business Red Cat Adventures being announced as the Gold winner in the Adventure Tourism category and Silver winner in the Major Tour and Transport Operator category at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

Among 75 awards presented at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre last night, the Whitsunday tour operators have weathered the pandemic impact on their industry over the past two years, with Julie Telford explaining “although we’ve been privileged to win awards in the past at local, state, and national levels, this is our first Gold in the Adventure Tourism category nationally.

“Without international youth markets to draw on, Adventure Tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors, and what we personally - and our industry as a whole - have been through during the pandemic, cements this as the toughest battle of them all and consequently the most cherished win.”

Asher Telford explained the couple, their three children and 32 staff, were still celebrating their Gold and Silver wins from the 2019 Australian Awards when news of the onset of Covid-19 began trickling through, noting “it was only a few weeks between the high of winning two categories at the last national awards to tourism falling off a cliff.

“The value of our company halved almost overnight, and we were faced with the devastation of losing the majority of our staff; what ensued has been an insane, emotional, rollercoaster ride - at times elating, at others soul-destroying, but always raw and real.

“(But) instead of closing our doors and taking a rest, we slaved - we worked 10 times harder, and made a new business plan every time the rules changed.

“We sought opportunities from challenges, took calculated risks, and actually grew our company during Covid, evolving into a better, more efficient, more sustainable business as a result.”

Julie Telford added “being 86% international prior to the pandemic forced us to chase new markets and openings.

“We not only clawed back our staff numbers but actually increased the size of our sales team in preparation for border re-openings, meanwhile diversifying our products and retaining optimum customer satisfaction across all our tours.”

That guests actively choose to avail themselves of a free ‘Red Cat’ tattoo, attests to that customer satisfaction and the popularity of the company, renowned for its Whitsunday day tours.

Travelling aboard purpose-built power boat ‘Thundercat’ or re-purposed sailing vessel Tongarra, patrons can enjoy Whitsunday islands highlights, or escapes to idyllic Paradise Cove Villa.

More recent additions to the Red Cat Adventures experience suite include mainland ‘Falls to Paradise’ tours combining waterfall and resort excursions, and newly launched ‘Wild Cat’ cruises to Great Barrier Reef islands off Mackay.

As well as a raft of adventure activities such as snorkelling, paddle-boarding, banana boat-riding, sailing and bush-walking, guests can engage in a variety of Eco and Edu-tourism-tailored tours, including the curriculum-based ‘Immersive Learning Project’, designed to foster ‘travel for good’ and broaden stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef.

Proud of their environmental commitment, the Telfords boast the highest level of eco-certification as Climate Action Leaders and employ the only staff member in Australia accredited as both a Master Reef Guide and globally recognised Savannah Guide.

With core family values carried across the business and a high focus on vessel maintenance and safety, the Telfords pride themselves on Red Cat Adventures’ continued ability to showcase the Whitsunday region to Australian and global audiences through 2022 and beyond.

Images: The multiple award winning Red Cat Adventures (top and middle) and owners Asher and Julie Telford with their family (below).

Related Articles

18th March 2022 - Industry reunites for presentation of Qantas Australian Tourism Awards

17th March 2022 - Queensland campaign aims to promote tourism across the State in wake of floods and COVID

17th December 2021 - Whitsunday’s rebuilt Shute Harbour Marine Terminal opens and delivers a major tourism boost

25th November 2021 - Ecotourism Australia celebrates 30 years with a new vision

15th November 2021 - New day cruise venture to raise Mackay’s tourism profile

13th November 2021 - Outback operators secure nine awards at 2021 QTIC Queensland Tourism Awards

12th November 2021 - Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary named Queensland’s top Major Tourist Attraction at QTIC Awards

8th November 2021 - Outback Queensland Tourism Association looks to maintain visitation rise

27th September 2021 - Queensland tourism industry to benefit from $70 million in joint Federal state grants package

16th September 2021 - Reopening Queensland tourism operators set to face staff shortages

23rd August 2021 - Tropical North Queensland tourism job losses to escalate by Christmas

16th March 2020 - Whitsunday tourism operators receive fee relief

6th March 2020 - Port Arthur Historic Site named top attraction 2019 Australian Tourism Awards

18th January 2020 - New Whitsundays tourism campaign set to be launched

15th April 2019 - Daydream Island soft opening to boost Whitsunday tourism industry

1st July 2021 - Ecotourism Australia launches new version of Green Travel Guide

12th March 2019 - Visitors encouraged to enjoy Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens

12th November 2018 - QTIC shares details of five point plan to improve safety in Whitsunday waters

Support our industry news service
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

As an independent publisher, we need reader support for our industry news gathering so ask that - if you don't already do so - you back us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine and/or our online news.

Click here to view our subscription options.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


ICP is an Australian-based company focused on indoor climbing. ICP will manage your project from initial design to completion and beyond, whether you're building an international-level climbing…

read more

Attractions / Fitness / Recreation



Parkequip is an approved supplier under the NSW LGP Contract 308 for a range of products including play equipment, shade, shelters, safe fall, park furniture and school outdoor seating. All materials…

read more

Fitness / Parks / Play / Recreation / Surfaces


SeatGeek Asia Pacific

SeatGeek is a search engine and mobile-focused ticket marketplace that allows fans to buy and sell tickets for live events. As of August 2018, SeatGeek has exited the Australian, New…

read more

Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing / Venues



ABOUT SPORTENG specialises in the Planning, Design and Construction inspection of Fields of Play for all sports. Blending engineering with the specialist knowledge gained from working closely with…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces / Venues



With its sleek good looks and easy-to-use yet powerful functionality, Envibe is the premium fitness club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and fitness industry. We are the most…

read more

Aquatics / Fitness / Recreation / Technology


Links Modular Solutions

Links Modular Solutions are a leading provider of high-quality, innovative software solutions for leisure facilities. Our software suite includes modules such as POS, Classes, Members, Facility…

read more

Access / Billing / Finance / Fitness / Technology



Debitsuccess is now part of Xplor Technologies.

read more

Billing / Finance / Fitness / Golf / Recreation



As of 2018, TicketServ operates as SeatGeek Asia Pacific Pty Limited, part of international ticketing platform SeatGeek. Click here to contact SeatGeek Asia Pacific via their entry in…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Events / Sport / Ticketing


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business