Ralph Jackson (pictured) and wife Olga of Arcadia Travel have been inspired to display Noosa’s creative side to the world. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Ralph Jackson (pictured) and wife Olga of Arcadia Travel have been inspired to display Noosa’s creative side to the world. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Travel agents discover the art of COVID survival

As far as enterprising couple Ralph and Olga Jackson of Noosa Junction's Arcadia Travel are concerned, when most of your business openings are slammed shut by COVID-19, it's time think creatively.

And that is why one of the few local travel agencies still trading has turned to the world of art to help keep its doors open.

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The Jacksons first tried to use their agency's spare capacity as office space before being inspired to rent their walls out as a pop-up gallery to the area's large artist talent pool.

"When I first saw the shop we rented, I thought the layout of the shop would make a wonderful gallery with the space and the lighting," Mr Jackson, 61, said.

Arcadia Travel been looking at the new ideas for the shop and invited local artists to rent the wall space to display their works. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Arcadia Travel been looking at the new ideas for the shop and invited local artists to rent the wall space to display their works. Picture: Patrick Woods.

"Last year we were thinking 'What can we do? We don't need all the space'.

".... We contacted a lot of the local artists and we got some good interest."

Arcadia is now showing works by four artists Kita Lawrence, Deb Samuels, and Judith and Barry Rosenberg featuring funky images of "Steam Punk Possums", and automatons made out of recycled products.

"This gives us an office for what we're doing, otherwise we'd be sitting at home with a big labrador mauling us," Mr Jackson said.

"I don't mind going to galleries and getting challenged … it's nice, it makes the shop really pleasant.

"It's a quirky collection and it gives us a bit of flexibility."

Mr Jackson said he had worked in travel for 30 years, most of that on the tour operator side.

This art in Arcadia Travel sets the scen for business survival. Picture: Patrick Woods.
This art in Arcadia Travel sets the scen for business survival. Picture: Patrick Woods.

This is not the first creative detour for the Jacksons, who also operate Noosa Bike Hire to help pay their bills.

They are also wheeling and dealing in adventure tourism though the "Bike 'N Wheels Expedition" to be held this year across the continent.

The Jacksons have already signed up 30 people for a $7,000, 30-day "gulf-to-gulf" ride from Port Augusta to Karumba featuring outback camping and visits to remote pubs.

"Our main business is running Dutch and German groups around Australia, we've got our own fleet of three 21-seater touring coaches specially set up," Mr Jackson said.

"Their season is October to March and we've just missed out on this season and are hoping to get next season in."

The Jacksons also have a five-apartment property on the Moselle River in Germany for rentals.

"We try to encourage Australians to use it as a long stay base or for short holidays," Mr Jackson said.

He started out in business back in 1990 with the Wayward Bus based in Adelaide doing one-way trips to Melbourne with scenic coastal tours.

They eventually sold out to a European tour operator but last year the Jacksons bought the Wayward Bus name back.

"We want to get going a loop of four tours around southeast Australia, but at the moment we can't run things across borders easily as it turns out," Mr Jackson said.


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