Pictured here raising a well-earned glass is Old Paradian Matthew Fleming, in the delightful company of fellow sightseers on a cruise to the Kimberleys not so long ago.
This photo, together with another at King George Falls, was captured in 2019 BC (that’s Before COVID-19), reflecting happier times when travel companies like Matt’s flourished in the pre-pandemic days.
“You only need to look at how this pandemic has impacted all industries, not just tourism,” said Matthew of the brutal economic reality of it all.
“In terms of my business, revenue has dropped to zero as state borders closed and domestic airlines stopped flying, but things will improve.
“Domestic travel will be the first option available for Australians to travel, as international travel could well be off the agenda until early next year, and even then with limited available destinations. There’ll be quite a bit of pent-up demand for travel once all the lockdown ends and domestic airlines recommence flights.
“I am hopeful that state borders will open by August to enable some travel to be completed late this year, which should enable The Kimberley Collection to re-gain some of the lost ground in the next couple of seasons.”
Matt’s passion for travel can be sourced to his early 20s when the man about town completed the mandatory post-school pilgrimage to Europe in the affluent 1980s.
“I ended up living in the United Kingdom for three years in the mid-80s (the halcyon days of UK music by the way), and on my return I sought a job in the travel industry based on my experiences,” Matt said.
“Luckily, STA Travel was a major employer of ex-travellers and that is where my travel industry involvement began.”
It’s ten years now since Matthew established The Kimberley Collection – in part due to his previous life with the now-defunct Ansett, which ultimately took him to one of the world’s oldest and largest wilderness regions.
“When Ansett departed the scene I took up sales and marketing work for a company based in Broome, and I got drawn back to the Kimberley time and time again,” Matthew said.
“It was the same with the Northern Territory, and in the end I saw an opportunity to develop a business selling the best parts of Australia.”
Old Paradians seeking glorious solace beyond these deep dark days of the pandemic could be no better served than by travelling north, courtesy The Kimberley Collection, proprietor M. Fleming esq. – a more proud OP there never was.
Through eight years of the 1970s, Parade College was home to Matthew – “which doesn’t mean I repeated two years, but commenced at Alphington in Grade 5, 1971”.
“I have fond memories of Parade and the friendships I made which continue in later life. Parade certainly gave me some solid values to live by and a focus on sports participation which remains to this day. Who could not be inspired by Johnny Joss as the 1st X1 cricket coach!,” Matthew said.
“My relationship and link continues through the Old Paradians’ Association and the OPs Football Club as a sponsor, as well as the school reunions we hold regularly for the Matric class of ’78.”
Though the pandemic has led to incredible upheaval in life, with the Parade College and Old Paradians communities not untouched, Matthew sees a fantastic opportunity in the great beyond.
As he said: “A fantastic opportunity presents itself when all this is over to support our fellow Paradians and Old Paradians, whether it be assisting with a current student with work experience or supporting an Old Paradian’s business which has fallen on difficult times”.
“We all need to keep that purple, green and blue Yarangabee spirit alive.”