Sustainable Trails
Conference 2021
Alice Springs,
Northern Territory 


Janet Mackay
Director Australia and New Zealand
TRC Tourism 

As the Director of TRC’s Australian, New Zealand and global operations, Janet is well-known and respected for her expertise in strategic planning for regional destinations, nature and culture based tourism, practical feasibility assessments and business planning, and her successful and inclusive approach to stakeholder and community engagement.  She is highly recognised in the industry for her extensive knowledge in the trail sector and how to improve a region’s community assets through outstanding planning.  Janet is a leader in innovative planning and development of solutions for trail destinations and experiences that meet the needs of communities and visitors

Chris Halstead
Senior Consultant 
TRC Tourism 

Chris has over 25 years involvement in park management, strategic planning and visitor experience development. He has recently developed and implemented significant trail planning projects including the Macedon Ranges Shared Trails Feasibility Studies, Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley Trails Master Plan, Shire of Exmouth (Ningaloo) Trails Master Plan, Manawatu Gorge Mountain Bike Trails Business Case (New Zealand) and design of the 240 kilometre Red Centre Adventure Ride Cycling trail in Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park.
Chris has extensive experience in community engagement and working collaboratively to promote cultural, recreation and park-based initiatives. He has developed joint management plans with the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners and Parks Victoria for 10 Gippsland parks and reserves and with the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners and the South Australian Government to develop the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Management Plan.
Chris has extensive experience in Papua New Guinea where he has made a significant contribution to community livelihoods and trekker experience and safety during 18 months as Kokoda Track Operations Manager and more recently through the review of the Kokoda Track Authority and leading track development programs.
Chris is known for his enthusiasm and ability to develop exciting and sustainable trail experiences that improve wellbeing and provide positive outcomes for a broad range of communities.

Penny Spoelder
Senior Consultant 
TRC Tourism 

A sustainable tourism expert, Penny has more than 30 years of experience working at multiple levels of tourism planning, destination development and project delivery. With extensive public sector experience, and a strong focus on sustainable tourism, Penny is often called on for destination development projects. Her clients benefit from her guidance and in-depth knowledge of sustainable tourism planning and delivery models.

Penny specialises in helping destinations as they navigate the tourism development life cycle and sustainable tourism initiatives. She has led the planning and management of some of Australia’s most notable destinations and has worked extensively in New Zealand and in the Asia Pacific Region. Penny has won numerous awards for the design and delivery of sustainable tourism projects.

Penny’s expertise spans strategic management and planning, project design and management, capacity building, business planning and development and government reform. She is recognised for her facilitation, co design and community development skills.

Chris Rose
Senior Consultant 
TRC Tourism 

Chris has extensive experience in stakeholder engagement, strategy development, tourism and infrastructure development and in governance and risk management. Chris has worked on many projects for TRC including tourism destination planning, business case development, feasibility assessments for trails and other investments, accommodation supply and demand planning and strategies, governance of land and programs and has worked across Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Chris’s analytical skills are also very strong. Chris is a highly effective communicator regularly conducts stakeholder engagement including one on one discussions and workshop facilitation.

Chris has a passion for regional development capitalising working collaboratively with regions and their people to harness their opportunities.

Kain Gardner 
TRC Tourism 

Kain brings 20 years’ experience in the public and private strategic land management sector across a broad range of areas including policy, planning, community engagement and project management. Kain is a very highly regarded trails consultant and has a strong interest in the provision of sustainable trails and recreational opportunities in natural areas.
An experienced project manager, Kain possesses excellent skills in complex project management. With high level organisational and leadership skills, he has demonstrated sound abilities in strategic and project planning, procurement, implementation and evaluation, risk and financial management, policy and advocacy. Kain is particularly skilled in operating ArcMap from the ArcGIS platform to produce informative and spatially accurate maps and plans.
Kain has a long history delivering the full suite of trail related products and projects across Australia. He has conducted detailed trail feasibility studies and concept plans, trail planning and design reports, trail audits and condition assessments, sign planning and managed multiple permit and construction processes.

Steve Bennett
Senior Policy Officer, Trails
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Western Australia

Steve has worked exclusively and passionately in the trails and recreation sector for 40 years. Starting with a QEII scholarship to roam the world learning about outdoor activities, he has worked across state and local governments, community organisations, private enterprise and the university system. Steve’s current work is focused on developing trails strategies as well as funding and supporting trails outcomes for the community. Steve was part of the team that developed the WA Hiking Strategy in 2020 and he will provide an overview of how this was achieved and the difference that it has made to WA trails.

When not working with trails, Steve is walking, riding or paddling on them. If he can’t be contacted, don’t worry, he is most likely floating around the ocean on a yacht.

Dean Unsworth
Shire of Murray WA

Dean Unsworth has led the Shire of Murray in the capacity of Chief Executive Officer since August 2007 and in September 2019 was appointed the role of joint Chief Executive Officer for both the Shires of Murray and Waroona. A Certified Practising Accountant and member of CPA Australia, Dean also has a Double Major in Accounting and Marketing with Edith Cowan University. Dean had spent over a decade in the media industry including managerial roles, in his home state of Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia. With experience in tourism marketing including managerial roles with the Busselton and Dunsborough Tourism Associations, Dean has a focus on positive economic, social and environmental development. Entering Local Government in 2000, Dean has spent time at the City of Bunbury, the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes as Deputy CEO and as CEO with the Shire of Gnowangerup prior to taking his current role with the Shire of Murray. Dean is passionate about the Peel region and is committed to working with the community to guide Murray and Waroona into the future, maintaining an enviable lifestyle for its residents whilst attracting investment and visitor revenue for the local economy.
A strong focus at the Shire of Murray has been to develop Business Cases and successfully lobby for $18 million of Federal, State and Local government funding that has transformed Dwellingup to a world class Trails Town.

Cormac McCarthy
Senior Open Development Officer
Manningham City Council

Cormac has 20 years experience working in local government as an Open Space Planner/ Coordinator, responsible for the funding, design, consultation, construction and ongoing management of many metropolitan shared use trails in Melbourne. He has been instrumental in the production and implementation of two Regional Trails Strategies covering half of greater Melbourne. Through the management of existing trail assets as well as the strategic planning for future trails, Cormac has a broad knowledge of best practice in keep trails attractive and safe in an economically sound way.

Having worked, travelled and recreated widely in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, USA and Europe he has extensive personal experience of trails for walking, cycling, mountain biking, skiing and canoeing that he will share. Cormac is a former Chair of Rail Trails SA, Rail Trails Australia committee member, Bicycle SA Executive Officer, Camping Association of Victoria Executive Officer, Parks and Leisure Australia (Vic/Tas) and Play Australia committee member.

Terry Robinson
Destination Gippsland

Terry has been involved in Victoria’s regional tourism industry for over 25 years. He has worked in local government, attractions, and most recently with the Gippsland Regional Tourism Board. Destination planning, brand management, and trails strategy and development has been his focus in recent years as Gippsland responds to the impact of drought, fire and the Covid-pandemic. He was Chairman of Sydney Melbourne Touring for six years, been a Board member of Victoria Tourism Industry Council and was a judge at the Australian Tourism Awards. He will share his experiences working with regional communities, land managers and all levels of government to secure investment in new trails, create visitor experiences and how to leverage their long term benefits.

Heath Garratt
Tasmania Walking Company

Involved in the eco-tourism industry for over 20 years, and as Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC) General Manager since 2004, Heath has overseen TWC’s implementation of three new walking products and joint ownership of the Bruny Island Long Weekend. He drove the development of the Australian Walking Company (AWC) with a view to expanding onto mainland Australia, initiated by the acquisition of the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk. He now enjoys the challenge of seeing both companies reach their full potential under owners Brett Godfrey and Scott Malcolm.

Heath wants all people to spend more time in wilderness areas and is passionate about the benefits that come from this – environmental, cultural and personal benefits as well as our all-important connection with this blue orb.

Chris Day
Senior Director Parks and Wildlife Operations
Parks, Wildlife and Heritage Division
Department of Tourism Sport and Culture

Chris Day is the Senior Director, Parks and Wildlife Operations with the Northern Territory Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture.

Chris has lived and worked in the red centre of Australia for almost 38 years. He has worked as a ranger in diverse National Parks and Reserves across the central Australian region since 1981 including Finke Gorge National Park and Watarrka National Park.

Chris is now the Senior Director of Parks and Wildlife Operations in the Northern Territory, a role he has held since early 2018.  This involves the management of operational aspects of the Division of Parks, Wildlife and Heritage. This encompasses 85 parks and reserves managed by around 150 permanent staff looking after an area covering in excess of 45,000 km2.

Chris has a passion for bushwalking and a strong interest in mountain biking. He is currently involved in helping to deliver two exciting new projects in the Northern Territory that cover both these passions.

Mark Crummy
Manager Destination Marketing 
Tourism NT

Mark has had a long career in the tourism sector spanning some 35 years. After arriving in the NT he established an award winning tourism enterprise, Odyssey Safaris. Whilst owning and operating Odyssey, Mark served as Chair and vice Chair of Tourism Top End for over eight years.

Mark joined the Northern Territory Government in 2004 in the role of Manager Destination Marketing at Tourism NT. Since then he has held a number of senior executive roles at Parks and Wildlife NT as well as Tourism NT. He currently holds the position of Director, Sector Development and Regions North at Tourism NT. The sector development function includes the development of the hiking and mountain bike tourism sectors of the NT.

For the past 10 years he has sat on the Nitmiluk National Park Board of Management and also sits on the board of the Savannah Way Incorporated.

Chris Griffin
Visit Northern Tasmania

Chris’s experience lies in the tourism and travel sectors, having worked for 25 years across all facets of these interrelated industries.

Chris started his career working as the Marketing Manager for Taieri Gorge Railway, Dunedin New Zealand before adventuring into a variety of roles across NZ and Australia, including leading International Sales teams, marketing management and more recently destination management.

In late 2012 he was appointed the inaugural CEO of Visit Northern Tasmania, a regional tourism organisation charged with ensuring that every great Tasmanian holiday started in the North! At that time, the array of visitor appeals in Tasmania centred on themes of wilderness, convict heritage and food and wine, complemented by special interest areas such as multi-day walks, golf, fly fishing and cruise ships.

Early into his tenure with VNT Chris was invited to participate in a North East Mountain Bike Project, exploring the viability and returns possible from building a series of MTB trails between Launceston City and the East Coast. Thus begun Chris’s lived experience as part of the Blue Derby Story, now rated in the top five MTB destinations in the world.

Chris is married to Phoebe (a good Tasmanian born country girl) and together they have managed to successfully (to date) raise two daughters Lily aged 11 and Josephine aged 9.

Alison Breach
Project Manager
Hepburn Shire Council

Alison Breach is a registered Landscape Architect and Project Manager living in country Victoria on a small permaculture farm. Alison has worked in local government designing and implementing spaces in the public realm with an eye to equitable use, sustainability, strategy and place making for 15 years.  When she’s not in the garden, she manages the planning and delivery of the Creswick Trails Project for Hepburn Shire Council.

John Brown
General Manager
Break O’Day Council

I commenced working in Local Government in 1987 in the Finance Department and then onto Deputy Council Clerk at the old Fingal Council until its amalgamation with Portland Council in 1993 where it became Break O’Day Council and I commenced as General Manager until 2000.
In 2000 I decided I wanted a life outside Local Government so for the next 14 years undertook various roles within private enterprise which included the CEO for the Tas Farmers and Graziers Association and the Migrant Resource Centre among other things before a return to Local Government in 2014 again as General Manager at Break O’Day Council.
Some of my hobbies include spending time with my family (when COVID allows), travel to wherever seems like a great place to go (but not for the foreseeable future), doing house renovations, morning walks with the dog on the beach, tasting craft beers from all around the world, drinking good coffee and I have recently introduced myself to mountain bike riding (how can you not when BOD has the best MTB trails is Tasmania lol) – biased much 

Amanda Layden 
Project Manager, Trails – Tourism and Economic Development
Department for Environment and Water SA

Currently working with the Department for Environment and Water (South Australia) as the Trails Project Manager with the main responsibility of writing a Statewide Trail Strategy. As this is in progress, my presentation at this conference, will be a glimpse of a former role or life in Scotland.
In 2009/10 I was the 7stanes project coordinator for Forestry Commission Scotland, this was my introduction to mountain biking and where the love story began. Role included – working in a small team overseeing the overall management of trail development/maintenance, marketing, events, business/industry collaboration, funding, and stakeholder management. Highlight, taking Scotland to Ireland!
After a short spell in finance, I returned to 7stanes as the Development Manager in 2013. Responsible for the development of the marketing strategy across UK/International markets, increasing revenue by maximising economic activity and improving digital systems and resources, to name a few. Highlight – too many!

Terry Jenvey
Executive Officer Recreation & Active Living 
Yarra Ranges Shire Council

Terry has been involved in Recreation Planning and Leisure Facility Management for the past 25 years. Over the past 4 years at Yarra Ranges Council, Terry has been instrumental in driving Yarra Ranges’ aspiration to become a World Class Trails Destination. His drive and passion has seen Council’s Yarra Valley Trail, RidgeWalk and Warburton Mountain Bike Destination projects progress to the final stages of becoming a reality. These three ambitious projects, located through the beautiful Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, have been developed to create transformational change and generate significant job creation, economic stimulus and community health and wellbeing outcomes. He will share his experiences in creating a clear vision and provide insight into the successes and the significant challenges these projects and his experienced team have faced thus far. Terry will highlight the drivers and strategic thought that have gone into planning this network of high quality trails, the key lessons learned and the resilience and perseverance required by all involved. He wants the trails and recreation industry to continue to work collectively to push the boundaries in striving to create outstanding experiences and best practice in project planning, delivery and activation.

Georgia Pelling
Representing GHD

Georgia is a key member of GHD Advisory’s Business Case and Economics team and has specialist skills in investment prioritisation, strategic planning and project evaluation.

Georgia has experience in both the public and private sector, and has worked across a wide range of disciplines, including infrastructure planning and management. She has detailed knowledge of local and state government, complemented by skills in economics and public relations. Prior to joining GHD, Georgia worked at Moreton Bay Regional Council, in the Sport and Recreation team.

Denise Cox
Representing Auscycling 

Denise is the leader of Advocacy and Infrastructure for AusCycling and held the position of Chief Operating Officer for Mountain Bike Australia for close to 6 years. Denise has skills and experience in all things mountain biking and subscribes to the N+1 theory.

Denise has over 25 years’ experience in sport and outdoor recreation with specialised skills in sport governance, sport and recreation planning, program development and event management. She has delivered many key projects for the mountain bike industry including the Queensland and Victorian MTB Strategy, Australian MTB Trail Guidelines and secured millions of dollars to deliver participation programs, new trail developments grow the activity of mountain bilking across the country.

Phil Saxena
Velo Solutions 

Phil Saxena is a pioneering mountain bike trail designer from the UK. With over 25 years experience building trails for all levels, from balance bike riding toddlers, through to Olympic level elite competitions, he’s seen the industry develop from the grass roots up. Having grown up as a keen cyclist and lover of all things outdoors, Phil developed a taste for creating his own mountain bike trails, in a time when few purpose built MTB trails existed. Whilst at University his reputation grew, leading to freelance trail building work around the UK. In 2002, Phil became the UCI World Cup track designer. After 8 years travelling the globe designing and building MTB trails he returned to the UK to focus on the domestic trail scene. Phil has been instrumental in the development of trail building techniques in the UK, as well as overseas. He now turns his attention to the Australian market with the establishment of “Velosolutions Australia”. With this enterprise Phil intends to help more Australians than ever, access safe sustainable and fun mountain bike trails. 

With thanks to our host sponsor 

What did past attendees think?

The Sustainable Trails Conference provided an excellent opportunity to share best practice across a variety of topics from trail building to governance. Each session was valuable in its own right. Great to see the collaboration between our two countries as we all strive to make the most of this growing community.

Diane Drummond | General Manager | Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust

The sustainable trails conference is a must do for all those involved in the planning, development and marketing of tracks and trails.

Anthony Burton | Principal | Anthony Burton & Associates

A well run and organised conference, excellent speakers who certainly provided a range of information in the topics presented. Took away some key learnings.

Jane Tito | Marlborough

I have been to a lot of conferences before, this was one of the best I have ever attended.

Mick Tucker | Mayor, Break O'Day Council

A fantastic conference. Great speaker line-up with leaders in the field. Learned a lot and made new connections.

Francesca Governali | Conservation & Tourism Fellow | Dartmouth College

The Sustainable Trails Conference provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the importance of trails to local economies and tourism, the amount of work going on in this space, and to share and learn from others working in the field.

Suky Thompson | Trust Manager | Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust