The diary of an Aussie specialist

Ah Queensland: chalky white beaches and lovely warm weather. I know it well. Or at least I thought I did.

Unlike Western Australia, my journey to becoming a Queensland Specialist was going to be more of a challenge. With no map to look at and a few questions that, to this day, I’ll never know the answer to, it wasn’t the breeze I thought it would be.

I’ve also learnt that relying on snippets of information gleaned from a backpacking trip six years ago is a sure-fire way of getting nowhere. Back to the drawing board, and a proper absorption of the nicely laid out and chatty script instantly revealed several holes in my memory – and made me realise how little I’ve seen of Australia’s second largest state.

I’d never even heard of Townsville; thought the Tully River was in a different state, and couldn’t for the life of me think who would name a beach Yorkey’s Knob? Tropical North Queensland – apparently. The things you learn.

But as the Great Barrier Reef is as much of an icon as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it’s an important state for Aussie Specialists (me included) to know about.

Still, I’m happy with 97%, but if anybody does know how many resort islands are located on the Reef, please let me know.
See you next time when I’ll continue my way around the specialist modules – two down, five to go.

Jo Gardner, features reporter, Travel Weekly



Joanne Gardner, features reporter, Travel Weekly


What the students say: the homeworker

Gemma Brooks is a homeworker for 2NewHorizons in Thetford, Norfolk

You have just become a Queensland Specialist, how did you get on?
Gemma Brooks, homeworker for 2NewHorizons, Thetford, Norfolk Very well. I found this module of the programme easiest in terms of digesting the information, but the questions were harder than other state modules I’ve done. I had to go onto several different websites to find some information and the questions on rail travel were particularly hard.

How long did it take you to complete the training?
It took two hours to read all the information and then another half an hour to complete the exam, so not that long. I’ve been to Queensland on holiday twice so knew some of the answers already which helped, but I’ve never visited Brisbane or the surrounding islands so had a lot to learn there.

Do you think the training will help you sell the state in the future?
Definitely. Things stick in your head and when you pull facts out from your memory, clients seem to be impressed. I sold a round-the-world trip recently and managed to persuade the client to include Queensland based on my description of the state.

How many state exams have you completed?
I started with South Australia as I knew nothing about it and was receiving enquiries from clients, then I did the Western Australia module which I found easy as my parents are from there, followed by Queensland which I chose based on personal interest.

When did you qualify as an Aussie Specialist?
About two weeks ago. I started the training five weeks ago and am keen to complete all of the modules quickly.

Do you want to become a Premier Aussie Specialist?
Yes, I have already applied and will try and complete the remaining four modules in time for the December 17 deadline. It’s hard to let the world know you’re an Aussie Specialist when you are an independent homeworker, so having my profile on the website would help immensely.


Join the Premier club

Tourism Australia has introduced a new tier to the Aussie Specialist programme to reward agents who have completed all seven modules.

Following feedback from agents, Tourism Australia has created the Premier Aussie Specialist.

Interested agents should log on to the website and fill in a registration form, and submit a 300-word summary on why they believe they should be a Premier Aussie Specialist by December 17.

Agents who qualify to become part of the elite group will be added to the website which will include a short biography on why they are a Premier Aussie specialist.

Successful applicants will be advised before Christmas with the programme due to go live in the New Year. Visit for more details.



Win a bottle of Lindemans wine and a Lonely Planet guide to Australia...To  courtesy of Tourism Australia, just answer the following question:

What is the name of Travel 2’s new mini Australia brochure?

The answer is somewhere in the Australia feature.

To enter, simply send your name, address and answer to Travel Weekly, Australia competition, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS marked ‘Lindemans competition’.

The closing date is December 15. Winners will be picked at random from the correct entries received.