Western Queensland and the tourism industry lost one of its pioneers at the weekend with the passing of Barcaldine’s Tom Lockie.
The instigator of Artesian Country Tours and a passionate advocate for the goat industry, Mr Lockie passed away after a long illness.
Outback Queensland Tourism Association general manager, Peter Homan, described him as a visionary in the industry.
“He was instrumental in making sure outback Queensland had a voice in Brisbane, in getting the ear of the right people, and making sure they visited to see what he was saying for themselves,” he said. “Tom touched a lot of people – they liked his passion.”
His tours took people to heritage and Dreaming sites in the Aramac region, regarded by many as a special insiders’ view of the land and its history.
Western Queensland photographer and documenter, John Elliott, first met Tom in the 1990s and said his work was as important to tourism in the west as the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
“People want an authentic bush experience and Tom gave it to them,” he said.
“Tom wasn’t flash but he was fair dinkum.
“People talk about the characters they meet as much as the places they’ve visited and landscapes they’ve seen.
“I think Tom pioneered that sort of tourism.”
That opinion is bolstered by many comments on the internet on his tours, such as this one from Trip Advisor: “We were taken to places very few outsiders get to see. Ancient aboriginal carvings and paintings, being studied by scientists the world over, tracks from the old horse and carriage days, and historic points of interest – a remarkable trip, and a full commentary from Tom, including a few yarns thrown for good measure and some great bush poetry as well.”
Barcaldine Regional Council mayor, Rob Chandler, had a 50-year association with Tom, who came to the district to work on the Chandler family property, South Delta.
Cr Chandler remembered him as a typical working man who had mastered many trades, from cane cutting and fencing to running a fruit and vege store and a secondhand shop, before making his mark in the tourism industry.
“He was a friend to all,” he said. “He entertained at the caravan park every night, talking about the bush. He played a big part in the city’s affinity with the bush.”
Cr Chandler acknowledged the vital role he played as the chief trainer for the Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Festival goat races, as a way of remembering their prominence in the development of the west.
“He’d get them out of the scrub and feed and train them up – they were the best corn-fed racers.”
He also remembered “Little Tom” as a wrestling champion in his younger days.
Tom’s funeral will be at the Barcaldine Town Hall at 9am on Saturday, January 13.