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Chris Weide, Sarah Colgate, Tony Johnson – new owners of Southern Cross Tours
The owners of Aquaduck, Sarah Colgate, Chris Weide and Tony Johnson have worked with Darran & Stephanie for the last 10 years, partnering on businesses, joining forces with combined products, travelling extensively overseas, selling each other’s tours and many, many tourism trade shows.
When Darran & Stephanie decided to sell Southern Cross Tours they only had one future owner in mind. They knew Sarah and her team would be able to ensure their legacy was carried on, the tours sold internationally when it’s possible to do so and the business reinvigorated in a POST COVID world.
Sarah & Stephanie on a trade mission in China – March 2019
Over the last 10 years, the businesses Sarah has managed and Chris owned; iVenture Card and iTourstix were key sales agents for Southern Cross Tours. Selling hundreds of tours per year and thousands of customers. Sarah was really impressed with the unique tours, quality of experience and nature based tourism Southern Cross Tours offered.
“I have always loved Southern Cross Tours, the very first tour I ever took on the Gold Coast was the Southern Cross Tours Evening Rainforest and Glow worm experience. The passion of the tour guide, the organisation of the tour and the educational components around the rainforest, flora and fauna were exceptional. The Gold Coast Hinterland is a phenomenal asset and provides a connection with ancient trees, amazing look outs, unique wildlife and the connection with nature we all crave. When Darran approached me to buy Southern Cross Tours I knew we had to do it, as we are just as passionate about the natural environment as Darran & Stephanie are. ” Sarah Colgate
Tony Johnson, owner of Paradise Jet Boating travelled extensively with Darran throughout Asia with multiple trips to Singapore, Malaysia and India. They were both directors of Gold Coast Tour Alliance a group of Gold Coast operators who travelled together, cross promoted, shared sales and marketing resources and marketed the Gold Coast destination overseas.
Following that in 2015, Tony & Darran joined forces to create Gold Coast Tours & Attractions business with two tour desks selling local tours. The desks were located at Novotel Surfers Paradise then named Hotel Grand Chancellor and at Aquaduck on Cavill Avenue.
“We consider Darran & Steph as part of the family and were so grateful they came to us when they wanted to sell. Southern Cross Tours is a great touring business which has a strong brand, offers exceptional service and provides customers with a a natured based experience which is unrivalled anywhere in Queensland” Tony Johnson
We recently undertook the Tourism Queensland Transformational Experiences Mentoring program with Jayne Jennings. to look at every aspect of our experience and how we can provide a better experience to our customers, contribute more positively to the community, the environment and humanity. During this process we developed our brand principle and what we stand for.
Our Story – Darran & Stephanie Wallace (2004 – 2021)
Stephanie & Darran Wallace were the owners of Southern Cross 4WD Tours from 2004 to 2021. They both grew up on the Gold Coast and lived near the areas we visit on our tours. When time permits, they spend their time-off is spent camping and exploring, not just South-East Queensland, but all over Australia.
Being involved in four-wheel driving at a personal level, Darran had an abundant knowledge in all aspects of the tours; both with unique local knowledge and driving safety.
Darran wrote articles published in Australian 4wding and camping Magazines. Besides exploring by 4wd Darran is also an avid trail and endurance OCR runner competing at events all over Australia and the World
Everything Darran & Steph did personally was reflected in the business with careful planning and risk management for passenger safety and enjoyment. Heavily involved in both the Four Wheel driving industry and Tourism Industry.
Over 17 years Darran & Stephanie had significant success in building the business into a highly regarded international brand with multiple itineraries, 7 vehicles and operated . They sold the tours around the world and had significant business form USA, UK, Europe, India, Malaysia and Singapore. They are now well known and respected throughout the tourism and 4wding community.
Southern Cross Touring since 1994.
We have been operating on the Gold Coast, Australia since 1994. Over this time the business has changed, grown and developed but maintained it’s passion for the rainforest, the environment, conservation and showcasing our backyard to the world so visitors can experience that amazing connection with nature.
For international visitors we have developed tours where you can experience a piece of the Australian country lifestyle and learn more about the environment and country we live in. It’s a tiny but amazing piece of our homeland that we know you will remember and cherish forever.
Our point of difference is the uniqueness of what our tours offer, exclusive venues, small group tours using modern, safe and comfortable Mercedes vehicles. Our guides are very passionate about their jobs, the conservation of our home and providing you with an exceptional experience in the rainforest, national parks or bushland in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Over the last couple of years we have also been involved in both regional and Queensland Tourism awards with great success:
Winner – Scenic Rim Tour operator of the Year
(Scenic Rim takes in Lamington National Park and Tamborine Mountain)
Finalist – QLD Tourism Tour operator of the Year
Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor
2011, 2012, 2013 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017!
For the Gold Coast attraction receiving the most positive feedback from travelers during the
season 2011, 2012 & 2013!
Tour in style and comfort!
Southern Cross Tours uses several types of vehicles for tours to best cater for our tour locations and our customers. When we purchase a vehicle we have 4 important standards that must be met.
- Must be forward facing Seats – (Lots of Legroom)
- Must be air-conditioned and comfortable in all weather, hot or cold
- Must have the best in relation to standards for 4wding and getting off the beaten track in safety
- Good viewing positions in all seats to see the stunning scenery and wildlife that this area offers
All our vehicles adhere to these standards and the addition of our new Mercedes is the benchmark of what you will see in the tour industry as technologies evolve from the days of levers to the electronic world of safety and comfort.
We purchase Mercedes-Benz vehicles to ensure the very best in safety and comfort for customers.
The most modern vehicle, not just for us but in Australia, is our 4WD Mercedes. This vehicle is not only of the highest standard in safety but also in luxury. This Mercedes tackles the same tracks as our other vehicles and has the most advanced technology in its class. This technology works both on and off road. For those that are interested here is the technical stuff: Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Acceleration Skid Control (ASR), Anti-Lock Brake Control Module (ABS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD).
What our customers are saying
Andrea De Vere
I went on the glow worm tour after dark. Great experience. Our guide - Duff was very professional, friendly and cracked some jokes. Trip was to tamborine mountain - took about 40 mins to get there, walk to Curtis falls while seeing creatures of the night like frogs and trapdoor spiders.
Duff provided vast knowledge of native wildlife.
This is a must see adventure for everyone. Highly recommend!
Thank you southern cross tours.
- June 2021