Martin Keating – Managing Director
Born and brought up in the UK – I escaped to Australia when I was 21… on a working holiday and never went back! Coles Myer Ltd sponsored my application for residency but several years later I ended up living and working in Papua New Guinea. Back in Australia I undertook Commercial Pilot training but ended up flying a telephone and have done ever since. I have many passions and usually I am split between all of them – My family, France, England, Australia and Africa, helping people, great hotels, comfortable seats on great airlines, nice staterooms on awesome ships and great food throughout! This all sounds a bit contrived but I am what I am and inspite of (maybe because of) all of the above I’m never happier than when I’m playing with planes, wooden trains and railways with my young Son.
Michelle Keating – Director & Financial Controller
Born in Melbourne, grew up in the Riverland of South Australia on a vineyard, I completed my Bachelor of Business Degree with Deakin Uni by studying remotely whilst living in Berri and Mount Gambier. My studies towards Certified Practicing Accountant qualification then took place whilst studying remotely in Leigh Creek, Cairns and the Torres Strait (Mabuiag, Warraber, Poruma and Dauan). My first overseas holiday was to the USA and I have been fortunate to go back there since – I’ve even seen snow in the Grand Canyon twice! Other travel highlights include walking through the chateaus in the Loire Valley and driving through Merlin’s forest in Brittany in France. My Dad was born just north of Paris during WW2 of Slovenian parents and I have been fortunate enough to visit both the village where he was born and the village where his grandparents were born near Loz in Slovenia. My greatest achievement to date has definitely been my son who is already 5 years old!
Over the years I have found my passion for cruising which includes now over 40 Vessels ranging from european barges, river cruises, and expedition ships through to ocean and mega liners. Travelling twice around the world and remote destinations does help to pass on information to my clients. I am lucky that my wife is also passionate about cruising and joins me on my trips.
I was a nominee twice for Best Cruise consultant Australia wide and was nominated 3 times for Best Travel Agent, also listed with CLIA as one of the top 30 Cruise Consultants Nationwide. Having a fantastic relationship with the cruise companies, I have been fortunate enough to be invited on more than 70 ship inspection over the years and on many occasions I could take my customers along with me. I enjoy working for an award winning travel agency and have also written my own Worldwide Cruise Guide for you to collect at any of our BLT Stores. My second language is German. Come and talk to me on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday’s if you are planning your next Cruise adventure.
Rachel Skipsey – Travel Specialist (Cairns)
Travel, motorbikes, national parks, photography, food… that’s the beginning of my list of passions. I have been fortunate to indulge in them all over the past 30 years whilst travelling the world on 2 wheels, (only Africa, Russia and Antarctica to go!) I believe in YOLO –“you only live once”. I have worked in The UK, Israel, Turkey, Greece, France, Holland and the former Yugoslavia before coming to Australia in 1994 from Yorkshire. Non bike travel has taken me on The Silk Road in China, through India and Nepal, Taiwan, New Zealand, New Guinea and Cuba. I am a destination guru! In my spare time I house and pet sit internationally just to keep me grounded!
Andrea McNamara – Travel Specialist (Cairns)
I am a language nut. I spend my free time conjugating verbs and enjoy it. Does that sound really boring? I can order a drink and sing a song in five languages, including Chinese. That’s a great ice-breaker! Having studied martial arts for most of my life and my love for travelling has seen extensive travel in Europe and Asia. Escorting groups from Cairns each year has been fantastic and I enjoy putting all types of groups together.
Growing up on the northern part of the Atherton Tablelands, was the perfect way of life. My husband and I wanted to raise our girls with the same country values. We successfully ran our own earthmoving business for almost 15yrs until he passed away from cancer. My life then abruptly changed.
Because I have a love of travelling, I completed a dual Certificate III and a Diploma in Travel & Tourism through Cairns Tafe North. I’ve travelled to the USA 4 times, mainly for my love of Country Music in Nashville and having a brother that lives near Memphis is great. I have also visited New Zealand twice, as I have a sister that lives there. I have sailed on 3 cruises and I plan to visit much more of the world. I enjoy helping my new travel mates plan their dream holidays. I love to see their excitement as they head off and again when they return.
Something most people will notice about me is that I have “Double Creative Energy” which means I will always have more than one project on the go, be it holiday adventures, or some arty/ garden project at home. In 2005/06 I was fortunate to live in Canada on a working holiday, where I participated in a program called WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) where I travelled from East to West experiencing the best of the local people & landscapes. Most of my holidays are down to earth rather than city scapes & include adrenalin activities or a good theme park. Something you don’t know about me – I love Whisky, Cheese & Costume parties – My favourite places that I have travelled are Canada, NZ Cycling holidays & Artic Circle twice.
Growing up in Switzerland, the heart of Europe gave me the opportunity to discover a lot of fascinating countries on this continent. Exploring Europe by train, car or plane gave me the travel bug and I wanted to see more. Learning English in New Zealand, backpacking through Indonesia, travelling and working in Canada where I also met my Australian Husband (In a Pub of course).
We moved to Australia in 2012 and have been living in Townsville ever since.
I was fortunate enough to be able to experience a lot of amazing places however I am not done yet because my next adventure will be Bhutan.
What feels like a million years ago, I bought a ticket to Canada to go and visit my best friend who I had met when she came over to Australia on a student exchange and after that I was hooked on travel. I have now been in the industry for 10 years and have travelled to Canada twice, USA East Coast, Vanuatu, Fiji, Kuala Lumpur, Vietnam and Bali. My other passions aside from travel is my family; I am a wife and mum to my gorgeous 8 year old son; my succulent and cactus collection and my pets – a feisty cat and a French bulldog who is an absolute clown.
I absolutely love travelling and that’s probably why I’ve worked in the travel industry for quite awhile now. I have skied the slopes of New Zealand and Japan and can highly recommend it. My adventurous family includes my husband and two boys. Together, we’ve also experienced the friendly hospitality of Fiji and can recommend some great places there.
Recently married and have lived in Weipa for 3 years which has allowed me to travel A LOT! I love being a travel specialist because I get to book all these exciting trips for clients. My favourite destination is Bali, I absolutely love the people, weather and the freedom Bali gives you! My dream destination is Bora Bora – an overwater bungalow would be absolute bliss! One thing I won’t travel without is my travel pillow. A travel tip I could give is always travel somewhere with an open mind, that way you will never be disappointed! All cultures are different and that is what I love about travelling.
Katrina Scholefield – Travel Specialist (Weipa)
A true adventurer at heart, we were on a 4WD holiday around Australia when we discovered the beauty of Weipa. My husband and my two boys are my mates in this big adventure of life. Having worked in hotels in the UK and travelling throughout Europe, I just love travelling and discovering. We’ve skied in Japan and New Zealand, cruised to New Caledonia and relaxed in Tahiti. As I’m a sports fanatic, I especially love organising my customers’ holidays which revolve around sporting events!
Elaine Binjuda – Thursday Island Manager
Hailing from the Torres Strait Islands with Japanese and Malaysian heritage, I adore my family (especially my grandkids), enjoy fishing, my island home and our local food. Badu Island and Prince of Wales are my ideal fishing spots. Country music, reggae, Marcia Hines, Whitney Houston and The Beatles are my favourites. As a youngster I travelled to represent TSI in basketball and loved it. I’m passionate about organisations such as Mura Kosker Sorority and the Lena Passi Women Shelter.
Born on Thursday Island (T.I.) and spent my childhood there. I moved to Townsville where I attended Pimlico High School. It was there that I had the opportunity to go on a school Ski Trip to New Zealand! This is where I first experienced international travel and snowball fights aren’t as fun as they look! With a mixed heritage, race I plan to travel more and trace my family origins, starting in Japan.
Margaret Perazza – Corporate Travel Specialist
The first 24 years of my life was in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I came to Australia for a 2 year working holiday and have been here ever since. My wonderful husband of 40 years and I have raised a family of 4 children and now have 10 grandchildren. Although I still love Africa, I feel very strongly that Australia is the very best country to raise a family. I love working with the Torres Strait people and after flying in and out over the last 12 years know many of them personally. My strong connection with the TSI people certainly makes my job very pleasant.
I travel on a Kiwi Passport but have called Cairns home for the last six years. The climate and lifestyle here is amazing and there is always something to do – whether it be snorkelling at the reef, a fun day out at the Cairns Amateur races, browsing the Port Douglas Markets or sampling the foodie delights of the Tablelands. The majority of my working career has been in the travel industry, so travelling has always played a big part in my life. At BLT I work in the Corporate division alongside Margaret and Brent.
Brent Frazer – Corporate Travel Specialist
Originally from N.Z I have been in Australia for nearly 15 years now. Most of this time has been spent in Cairns with a 2 year stint in Townsville and up until recently a 2.5year stint on Horn Island.
I have travelled across Canada and have completed an overland trip in Africa from Nairobi to Johannesburg. While in Africa I was lucky enough to experience the mountain gorillas in Uganda. More recently my travel has been to South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea. Photography is a passion of mine and when travelling you are never short on subjects!
My best experience was travelling to USA for the first time; standing in Times Square in New York and being at Disneyland in Los Angeles were both such amazing experiences. I love to travel, learn different languages and cultures, love to dance socially and culturally and learning about my family’s origins. I’m very family orientated and I enjoy socialising with my immediate and extended families and friends.
Andrew Bowes – Commercial Manager
An avid football fan who fell in love with Papua New Guinea. Andrew travels regularly to PNG and the Solomon Islands and promotes both these countries as ‘undiscovered jewels’ in the Pacific. He explains that tourism is in its infancy here and it’s best to go now to see experience it all before it becomes too commercialised.
Cheryl Truden – Accounts
My father was a soldier throughout WW2 and with Mum and sister we settled on King Island shortly after the war. I had never travelled outside Australia until the last few years and since then I have visited England, Kenya, Fiji, China, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, UAE, Argentina, Peru and even Antarctica (as pictured)! I absolutely adore my grandchildren, cooking and my orchids but my bucket list continues to grow. My next trip is back to Fiji to cruise around the islands and next year I will be making sure that I am first in line at the Chelsea Flower Show… then it will be off to Scotland to find out more about my Mum’s heritage… apparently “we” had a castle!
Much of my working life has been based around food & wine, with commercial catering, living abroad and teaching catering, ran a restaurant and had a private catering business. Even sampled life in England working as a cook on a fabulous estate with 40 acres of landscaped grounds and their own lake! The fishmonger, grocer and Harrods delivered to the back door – What an amazing experience. I may forget many things but I never forget a wonderful meal. These days I am in administration but the best times are cooking for family and friends, dining out and drinking the perfect dry martini.
I have worked in the liquor industry, construction industry and for the last 5 1/2 years have worked for BLT in the Accounts Division. I really love to travel and intend to see a lot more of the world before I get too old. I have travelled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bali, Kota Kinabalu, England, Scotland, Europe (taking in Switzerland, Italy Rome, Venice and Germany). I have also been to Kuala Lumpur which was a holiday I will never forget having my necklaces ripped from my neck by a guy on a motorbike and then spending 3 hours at a police station making a report! But that won’t stop me travelling.
Living the Dream. I have travelled around Australia twice. Once with my mates and once with my girlfriend, who is now my wife.
In the trip around Australia with my girlfriend, we lived in Cairns for 6 years. During this time, we had our first travel around the world. We then returned to Perth and got married. We did another world trip and fell in love with Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.
When we returned to Australia, we studied Spanish for 3 years to be ready for our next trip which was 3 months in Central America.
Wow – that was an eye opener back then. We now have 2 beautiful boys, who we have returned to Cairns with about 4 years ago.
After all our travels, Cairns is one of the most beautiful places in the world.