Heather Mary SCOTT
Also known as: Jill
Born: 9 November 1939Additional Information:
A pioneer of contemporary tourism in the Northern Territory from 1969 until 1992.
Jill began her professional life as a registered nurse. Her experience included travelling to England via the Suez Canal and private nursing in London. Then teaching post graduate students orthopaedic nursing and procedures in her capacity as charge sister of a large New Zealand orthopaedic ward. Jill’s career path brought her to Alice Springs where she nursed at the old Alice Springs Hospital and became evening supervisor for a time. A call to a more adventurous life at the beginning of the seventies resulted in Jill meeting Di Byrnes and Annaburro Tours. Jill worked with Di assisting with the tours and later, recognizing the potential of the tourist industry, they became partners.
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Jill obtained her omni-bus license in 1971 and took on many and varied contracts. These included meeting the Ghan at any time between midnight and morning and taking tourists to their motel rooms. She and her partner were co-contractors of a mail run which took them on a trip to Dunmarra in the north and back to Alice Springs. During this time Jill worked for the then TAA, taking transfers to the airport. She had the first Mr Whippy franchise in Alice Springs. Jill won a contract through SAATAS (South Australian and Territory Air Services) for tours at Ayers Rock.
In 1971 the partners purchased two motels, the Ansett Lodge at Ayers Rock [later renamed the Red Sands] and Glen Helen Lodge. Jill managed the Red Sands until the government of the day purchased and terminated the Rock’s leases in 1973. She moved back to Alice Springs, and in 1973 saw the purchase of the Pines Homestead Lodge there.
In 1975 the partners tendered for and won the right to operate the Inland Motel at Ayers Rock which they did until December 1984 when the Rock was returned to the Indigenous land owners.
Glen Helen was sold in 1979 and repurchased in 1985.
Jill’s enthusiasm for tackling unusual adventures led her to managing three motels, four hundred miles apart on dirt roads with no town electricity, with water supply problems and two-way radio as the only communication link to a base in Alice Springs.
The motels were the Inland Motel (Ayers Rock), Pines Homestead Lodge (Alice Springs), and Glen Helen Lodge. This was possibly the most exciting time in her life; managing all aspects of the motels on a day to day basis, ordering stores and coping with unexpected tragedies which can be a part of the fabric of remote area life. A particularly gruesome event was an incident at Ayers Rock, when a truck driver drove a semi-trailer into the bar of the Inland Motel in 1983, killing five people and injuring twenty others. Disaster struck at Glen Helen Lodge when it burned down in 1986. It was rebuilt only to be flooded in 1988.
Jill’s commitment to excellence was recognised by several awards. In 1988 Glen Helen Lodge was runner up in the Australian Division of the Pursuit of Excellence (Restaurant), in 1989 Jill and her partner Di Byrnes won the above award. Also during that time Glen Helen won a Territory Tidy Towns Award and The Territory Enterprise Award. The Pilot’s Strike in 1989 presented another set back to all tourist operations in Australia --- it was a devastating time, a time for Jill and her partner to re-assess their position.
The fame of Jill and Di’s establishment spread and many well known guests, HRH Prince Phillip in his capacity as President of the Australian Conservation Foundation stayed overnight at Glen Helen in 1973, as did the Governor General Bill Hayden and Mrs Hayden in 1991. The Mayor of Sydney during the early seventies, Nick Shehadie has been a guest also Stephanie Alexander of “Stephanie’s” Melbourne. In 1991 Glen Helen Lodge was sold to Njurratjuta and Sitzler Brothers.
After settlement in December 1992 it was the end of an era. A road well travelled.
[written by Faye Nayler]
Rugg, Joanne. Di says tourism is like nursing; you must care. Centralian Advocate. May 13, 1988:2.
Hawthorne, Susan and Klein, Renate. (1994). Australia for Women: Travel and Culture. North Melbourne: Spinifex Press. Page 336.