President Keith Darke
Vice President Ed McGettigan
Secretary Caroline Brown
Treasurer Paul O’Neill
Click on Committee Members’ name to read more.
President Keith Darke
Tel: 03 5962 1669 or 0418 378 751
After a teaching career of forty years Keith and his wife Christine were exploring what to do next. Previous recent work in Healesville schools and a period living in Healesville many years ago, brought them back. The initial plan was to downsize but instead they bought a one hundred year old house in two acres of garden, spent a year restoring it and opened Graceburn Gardens where they offer bed and breakfast accommodation.
As a local person, growing up in Seville and teaching in the region, Keith has witnessed first hand the re-emergence of the Yarra Valley wine industry and associated tourism. Joining the industry has been challenging, exciting and rewarding. As beginners Keith and Christine availed themselves of the industry programs run by TNYV. The information provided at these events was very helpful in the early days of the business and TNYV remains a starting point in answering business questions that inevitably arise. When invited to join the committee Keith took the opportunity to put his many years of committee experience to use to help TNYV develop its networking and information goals.
Vice President Ed McGettigan
My wife, June, and I were both born in the UK, but emigrated to Australia in 1987. We arrived in Healesville in April 2014, after 7 years in Western Australia and 19 years in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. June worked as a Midwife for 30+ years but has now retired. I was employed as a Chemical Engineer for 30+ years, but now only practice as a consultant on a casual (and occasional!) basis. We have 3 children, all in their 20s – two of whom live in inner Melbourne, the other lives near Ballarat.
Our business is Ingleby Cottage, which we operate as boutique self-contained accommodation. This is our first venture in the Hospitality industry and we have now been operating for 3 years. The cottage is an early 1900s two bedroom Victorian weatherboard cottage located close to Healesville Hospital. We operate the cottage on a single let basis i.e. the guest(s) book the whole cottage but have the option of using only one of the bedrooms at a reduced tariff. June carries the workload of material procurement and laundry services, while I manage bookings and property maintenance. We share the cleaning workload between us.
We are very happy with the way the business has been going, but still value the opportunities that TNYV provides for networking with our colleagues in the local industry: as relative “newbies” to the industry we are still on the learning curve. We have benefited from our membership of TNYV for the last 3 years and I would like the opportunity to contribute to the management and ongoing development of the organisation.
Secretary Caroline Brown
Caroline grew up in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne and after finishing her schooling she moved to Bairnsdale to study an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Resource Management. Nature and open spaces were always a drawcard, but a relationship brought her back to the city where she then spent the next 15 years bringing up 4 children and working in various administration roles. The pull to the country was finally realised in 2010 when the family moved to Healesville after Caroline accepted a position working in hospitality administration. With nature on the doorstep, so many attractions to keep both adults and kids entertained, yet still so close to suburbia & family, meant Healesville was the perfect place to settle.
In early 2017, Caroline and her husband Anthony took the plunge and purchased their first accommodation property “Healesville House” in the heart of the Yarra Valley. They increased their portfolio late last year, adding a second property and expanding the business by offering private tours and transfers around the Yarra Valley to their guests. Joining the TNYV has not only increased their network and started new friendships but has opened up a world of opportunities and greater knowledge of the region and the tourism industry. Caroline is looking forward to working with the TNYV team, putting to use her organisational and administration skills as Secretary.
Treasurer Paul O’Neill
M: 0488 655 950
Paul and his partner Julie are the owners of Badger Creek Kennels, which is currently in the process of being re-branded as Yarra Valley Pet Resort. They look after a variety of animals, mainly cats and dogs; whilst some holiday for several months, others just come for day-care. They also offer grooming and have a pet taxi which services the Melbourne suburbs.
In the fifteen years of Paul’s ownership, the business has seen significant growth and now have over fifteen staff on the payroll.
Prior to taking ownership in 2003, Paul had extensive experience in the corporate world in HR, Sales and Marketing plus seven years running his own cake decorations wholesale business.
Apart from looking after the financials of his own businesses, Paul has extensive community and sporting club background, including Treasurer of a number of organisations, one of which was a national community organisation with over five thousand members.
Paul is keen to assist in promoting the Yarra Valley to continue the exciting growth he has witnessed over the last fifteen years since moving to Healesville.
M: 0418 378 402
Kerry and Peter Stanton both grew up in Box Hill and moved to Montrose & then Mooroolbark over 35 years ago. With their three children, they moved to Lilydale ten years ago, when they bought a historic 160 year old property on two acres called The Oaks. They both love older properties and are members of The National Trust. They like to explore older homes and gardens in their spare time. Peter is a registered builder and has a building business, P.K. Homes and specialises in decks, pergolas and alfresco areas.
Four years ago they built their first BnB, Sage Cottage at The Oaks, then one year ago they completed Rosebery Cottage. Peter concentrated on the design and building of the BnBs, while Kerry enjoyed furnishing and decorating both homes. She runs both 3 bedroom BnBs.
Watch this space! They have been lucky enough to be allocated one of the retired W Class Melbourne trams (yellow and green), which they will renovate and offer as a novelty accommodation option.
George Van Graas
M: 0409 325 687
George’s involvement with the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges dates back over 50 years, as a long term resident, primary producer and horticulturist. His family emigrated from Holland and settled in Monbulk in the early 1950s. They cleared bushland, built a home with the on-site timber and successfully established a thriving bulb and cut flower farm with products to the Australian nursery and florist industry.
As the business (and family) expanded over the years, a second farm was established on the northern side of the Yarra Valley in Toolangi to produce not only flower bulbs, but also the boutique vegetable known as Witlof or Belgian Endive. This was grown, packaged and supplied to the vegetable industry nationwide and also for export.
Changeable consumer and home gardening requirements saw the family collectively exit farming and follow individual pursuits. Being agriculturally inclined with a passion to be active in this beautiful region with its many tastes and experiences, providence guided George into the Yarra Valley tourism industry.
He now operates Driven Indulgence as a private, small group, bespoke tour driver and guide.
He feels suitably placed with his wealth of area knowledge and rural industry skills to assist the TNYV committee with its regional networking aims.
Prue Van de Linde
M: 0407 266 916
After two years of searching all over Victoria for a property, they discovered the Yarra Valley. A run down horse stud, “the worst house in the best street” property beckoned to them and so the project began. With only five trees on 53 acres, they was plenty of scope to develop and build something interesting and unique. In 2008 they won the Gardening Australia, National Garden of the Year, which was a great thrill. In 2013. Alowyn also won the Tourism Ministers’ Encouragement Award for an up and coming tourism venture.
New to the tourism industry, and to the Yarra Valley, Prue and John joined the TNYV to meet other tourism operators from all parts of the industry, learn from their experience and start the steep learning curve. Many members provided great advice and ideas on how to develop Alowyn Gardens as a destination for tourists and to move forward in its development.
The gardens opened to the public at weekends and public holidays for a few years initially, then, wanting to make a lifestyle out of it, the gardens were then opened every day from 10.00am to 5.00pm. As a TNYV committee member, Prue is keen to assist others in the continuing development of this wonderful tourism area.
M: 0447 411 674
I am Western Victorian born and bred, leaving home to join the Australian Army where I met my husband Neil. We toured around the country for the next seven years living in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
After leaving the Army we returned to the Western District where we purchased a sheep property where our four children were born. In 2000 we made the decision to sell the farm and moved to Kerang , in the Mallee where we purchased the Kerang Newsagency. After nine years of long hours we sold and took up the position of contract managers of the Clubarham Motel in Barham on the Murray River. Managing this 28 room motel was certainly a challenge, but introduced us to a job we loved.
After eight years and with all four children now residing in Melbourne we decided it was time once again for a move. In 2017 we purchased the Healesville Motor Inn instigating the move to the Yarra Valley, but what a great decision. We have discovered the business has plenty of room for growth and the building and grounds are a work in progress.
We have become very passionate about the Yarra Valley. I believe being on the TNYV Committee is the next step to get more involved in this wonderful community and learn more about the area and what’s available to for our guests.
Andrew Blount Greene
M: 0488 523 111
My youth was spent growing up on the family Dairy farm in north east Victoria on the fringe of both the Rutherglen and King Valley wine regions.
The decision to relocate to South Australia to run a business, led to various senior management roles in Textile, Automotive and Wine industries while raising my two daughters, now in their 20s.
I have lived and worked in the Barossa Valley’s wine region for 20 years and worked within almost all aspects of the wine industry from operations management to customer service and am currently working within the wine industry in the Yarra Valley.
I have always had a strong affection for country Victoria and its environment and feel settled while living and working within the Yarra Valley community.
My partner, Carolyn has recently established her own bookkeeping business TarraWarra Bookkeeping Services and has also recently joined the TNYV community.
My spare time is spent in the mountainous regions in the tail end of the great dividing range hiking and exploring the amazing countryside and absorbing the ever changing scenery, although my true passion is aviation with some experience as a pilot of both powered aircraft and
I am a huge advocate for supporting local business and enjoy working with, mentoring and seeing local business develop and grow to further strengthen the tourism network within the Yarra Valley.
I’m looking forward to working with and supporting the TNYV and the Yarra Valley communities.
Joan and her husband run a bespoke tour business called Tour the Valley and their motto is “Yarra Valley tours designed by you, for you”. They offer an itinerary from wineries, cider and beer halls, gardens, art galleries and adventure tours plus of course gin, chocolate and cheese.
Joan and John have lived in the Yarra Valley for over forty years and in Healesville for the last eighteen years. Joan joined the TNYV committee in 2017 as she wanted to be part of a tourism network team and meet other people in the industry.