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Social Capital and the Indigenous Tourism
Judy Bennett and Wilfred Gordon
About the Authors
Nugal-Warra Elder, Wilfred (Willie) Gordon, lives in Hope Vale, a small Aboriginal community in
Queensland’s Far North. He trained as a boiler maker, and then spent many years in the health
sector before starting his own tourism business. Guurrbi Tours was launched in May 2003, and in
2006 was nominated by ATS Pacific and American Express as one of Australia’s Ultimate Must-
Dr. Judy Bennett came to Australia as a PhD student in 2001, after 25 years in the tourism industry.
She is now a partner in Guurrbi Tours, and works with First Australians Business, a not-for-profit
organisation encouraging and supporting Indigenous enterprise. She and Willie have just launched
The Bama Way, a cultural trail through S.E. Cape York which links Guurrbi Tours with two other
Aboriginal-owned tour businesses. The brochure promotes the region’s rich Aboriginal culture, and
acts as a marketing tool for new Aboriginal businesses to join when they are ready.
The Australian Government has attempted to encourage Indigenous Entrepreneurship
over the past thirty years through a variety of measures. This chapter examines the success
of these measures through a participatory action research project in Queensland’s Far
North. The findings of this chapter illustrate that the focus of Government policy upon
developing Indigenous enterprises may be misdirected and should instead be directed
toward encouraging enterprising people. It also highlights the significant role that social
capital can play in the development of the Indigenous entrepreneur.
Successive Australian governments, at both State and Federal levels