November 29, 2022

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Unforgettable trip

Tour group left ‘stranded’ in outback after alleged altercation between operator, bus driver

Users of a tour group say their outback holiday getaway has turned into “a nightmare” immediately after they have been left “stranded” in distant Queensland by their east coast tour operator.

Halfway as a result of an 8-day tour of the outback, an alleged battle broke out among the tour company’s 70-calendar year-aged operator, Charlie Sturgess, and bus driver Robert Kellett, 59, near a community restaurant in Longreach.

Police said Mr Sturgess fell through a ground-flooring window throughout the incident on Tuesday night. 

Mr Sturgess, who owns Cannonvale-based company Reef N Beyond, then left city with his bus but without having his tour group or his employee.

“It really is just been seriously, actually demanding,” tourist Mark Hewitt, of Newcastle, mentioned. 

“We believed we have been going to get another bus and carry on on our tour … but [on Wednesday] we had been advised this gentleman who owned the corporation experienced cancelled all the bookings and we have been on our individual.

“There were 10 of us stranded in the outback with almost nothing.”

A lot of of the travellers utilised credits from vacation company TripADeal to book the outback tour. 

CEO Norm Black mentioned the business “acted straight away” when they were made informed of the condition on Wednesday morning, and flew the visitors out of Longreach to their respective home towns on Thursday.

“As soon as that aircraft takes out from Longreach I’ll be thinking ‘thank God I’m out’,” Mr Hewitt reported. 

“[But] Winton, Hughenden, Charters Towers — there have been 10 of us going to come in there, invest in coffee, purchase beverages — so all those little communities have missing as nicely.”

Law enforcement reported investigations into the alleged assault concerning the two organization associates had been continuing. 

“It is some thing really strange and it is really unlucky for the people today involved,” Longreach police officer in demand, Senior Sergeant Regan Drahim, reported. 

“In a city this dimensions and this isolated it’s genuinely challenging to test and come across an alternate for them.

“Clearly these persons have invested a great deal of dollars in their tour and it really is incredibly disappointing for them.”

Sydney pensioner Robyn Hughes claimed she paid $4,000 for the tour, excluding airfares.

“I am incredibly let down. I was so hunting ahead to looking at the dinosaur museum,” she stated.

“I want us to get our money back.”

Other folks in the team experienced extended outings booked with the very same corporation. 

“We were not likely to be property right up until after Easter time, so we’ve acquired our possess things that’s been rebooked, so it can be seriously been a nightmare,” Melbourne resident Susan Silver claimed. 

‘Not still left stranded’

Mr Sturgess explained to the ABC he intended to totally refund the tourists but denied the team was still left stranded.

He said he had supposed to go on the tour, but “none of the other passengers desired just about anything to do with me” pursuing the alleged altercation.

“These persons were being not still left stranded. They had been specified a good deal of prospect but refused it,” Mr Sturgess said.

“We are a incredibly experienced business and this has under no circumstances happened right before and will not materialize in the upcoming.

“We will be offering the individuals total refunds and the money TripADeal has paid for their airplane flights dwelling, we will be refunding them.

“The travellers would certainly have our apologies if they experienced communicated with us.”

Mr Kellett, who had been driving the bus, declined to remark. 

Outback Queensland Tourism Affiliation main executive Denise Brown said she experienced never heard of travellers being divided from their tour bus in the outback in this kind of a fashion.

“I’ve certainly read of it taking place in the towns, and it can be kind of commonplace, but that’s not what outback Queensland is about,” she mentioned. 

“I am unbelievably sad for our travellers who’ve arrive out for their extensive-awaited trip.”

Queensland Tourism Field Council chief executive Daniel Gshwind reported there was no distinct legislation governing tourism operators, but there were duty-of-treatment obligations. 

“Like any other client struggling with business, they are falling under the shopper defense legal guidelines, and naturally they have lawful obligation-of-care obligations that you are not able to move away from,” he reported. 

As they still left Longreach, the tour team customers claimed they experienced felt welcomed by outback locals. 

The morning they have been left stranded, another tour operator experienced dropped them at a neighborhood vacationer attraction for the day. 

“The folks in town right here have been extremely pleasant and welcoming,” Ms Silver claimed.

“We’ve felt quite at ease in Longreach, we have just felt quite unpleasant on the tour.”