AAT Kings

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AAT Kings logo.svg
2015 Coach Concepts bodied Scania K440EB AAT Kings.jpg
Scania K440EB coach in Fremantle in September 2018
ParentThe Travel Corporation
Founded1928
HeadquartersHead office: Bondi Junction
Coach Company: Botany
Service areaAustralia
New Zealand
Service typeTour operator
Fleet70 (February 2016)
Websitewww.aatkings.com

AAT Kings is an Australian and New Zealand coach tour operator offering both short and long distance tours.

History[edit]

Bonluck coach in Botany in August 2014
Mills-Tui bodied Mercedes-Benz O500RF in Wagga Wagga in July 2009

AAT Kings history can be traced back to the 1920s when the Pyke family began a car hire business in Sydney. In the 1930s they began to offer guided tours to Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. Tours were initially operated in seven-seater cars, until in 1935 when 14-seater coaches were introduced.[1]

In 1973 Grenda's purchased Blue Line Tourist Coaches in Sydney and a Trans Australia Airlines / Mayne Nickless joint venture formed AAT Coachlines.[2] In July 1975 AAT Coachlines purchased Pykes Tours and Grenda's coach businesses in Sydney and Melbourne.[3][4]

Meanwhile, in 1967, Bill King formed Bill King’s Northern Safaris operating out of Melbourne with two Land Rovers, an ex Army International ambulance and a Denning from his father, who was the proprietor of Coburg-Heidelberg Omnibus Service.[5][6]

In 1970 King purchased two larger ex Army International 4x4s and two M-series Bedford 4x4s. King later designed and designed his own 18 passenger Desert Cruiser vehicles on Bedford chassis, these were relocated to Alice Springs, and packaged tours were operated in association with Ansett Airlines.[5][6]

By 1979 Bill King’s Northern Safaris was operating 10 vehicles and had four Greyhound coaches on charter. At the same time AAT Coachlines had commenced operations in the Northern Territory with four new Dennings. In 1980 AAT purchased King's business with the tours were marketed as Bill King’s Australian Adventure Tours, with King remaining as manager until 1985.[6] Later both operations along with AAT Coachlines were merged to form AAT Kings.[5]

In 1983 AAT Kings was purchased by Mayer Page and Geoff McGeary, proprietors of Australian Pacific Touring. In June 1993 the business was split with Page taking control of AAT Kings, and McGeary Australian Pacific Touring.[7][8][9]

In 1997 AAT Kings was sold to The Travel Corporation.[10][11] In July 2012, AAT Kings purchased Australian Pacific Touring's Day Tours and Shorts Breaks divisions.[12][13]

In August 2014, AAT Kings purchased a share in Down Under Tours, Cairns.[14][15]

Indigenous Culture[edit]

AAT Kings has forged strong relationships with indigenous communities throughout Australia and New Zealand, including the Anangu people and Uluru Aboriginal Tours in Central Australia, as well as the Tamaki Family Marae on the outskirts of Rotorua, New Zealand. AAT Kings has also partnered with Alice Springs indigenous artist Kathleen Buzzacot and Maruku Arts to create a specially designed Aboriginal artwork featured on all coaches in Central Australia. Bone and pounamu (greenstone) carver, Lance Ngata, from Uawa (Tolaga Bay) and Turangi in New Zealand's North Island has also created exclusive artwork that features on all coaches in New Zealand.

Fleet[edit]

In the 1970s the fleet consisted of imported Van Hool bodied coaches. In the 1980s Dennings and later Ansair and Denning bodied Mercedes-Benz O303s were purchased. For outback operations, Centurion Transport Engineering bodied Mercedes-Benz Unimogs were purchased.[6] The livery was originally blue, yellow and orange modified in the 1990s to white with Aboriginal artworks. In 2013, a white with red and black signwriting livery was introduced. As at February 2016, the fleet consisted of 70 vehicles.[16]

Conservation Projects[edit]

AAT Kings and parent company The Travel Corporation have partnered with various organisations to help protect unique animals in Australia. AAT Kings has teamed up with Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors to support the koala rehabilitation project at Australia Zoo's Wildlife Hospital – the country's largest and busiest wildlife facility. They provide Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors with a substantial donation over two years to support the medical treatment and rehabilitation of koalas at the centre, as well as the building of eco-friendly constructions that will help protect those that are sick and orphaned. Additionally, AAT Kings supports the world's leading research facility for Little Penguins on Phillip Island in Victoria. With a major contribution via the TreadRight Foundation, a new penguin weighbridge will monitor the health of the penguins. AAT Kings also support the conservation of the endangered Tasmanian devil through sponsorship of the Tasmanian devil breeding program at Tasmania Zoo. AAT Kings has adopted two Tasmanian devils already and support the zoo in their efforts to combat the fatal devil facial tumour disease that is affecting Tasmanian devils across Australia.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A history of pioneering spirit and award-winning ways AAT Kings
  2. ^ Maropag Australia Pty Ltd formerly AAT Kings Tours Pty Ltd formerly AAT Travel Industries Pty Ltd formerly TAA-Mayne Travel Industries Pty Ltd Australian Securities & Investments Commission
  3. ^ "Pykes to AAT" Fleetline January 1995 page 16
  4. ^ Lance Grenda Road Transport Hall of Fame
  5. ^ a b c Bill & Val King Road Transport Hall of Fame
  6. ^ a b c d King, Bill (2013). King of the Outback: Tales from an off-road adventurer. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978 17433 11790.
  7. ^ "Page and McGeary split business interests" Fleetline September 1993 page 190
  8. ^ "Australian Pacific / AAT Kings" Australian Bus Panorama 9/1 July 1993 page 36
  9. ^ AAT King’s Tours Archived 6 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine. pacificislandtravel.com
  10. ^ "Ownership changes" Fleetline January 1998 page 18
  11. ^ "AAT Kings" Australian Bus Panorama 13/3 December 1997 page 42
  12. ^ APT, AAT Kings codeshare Travel Daily 24 July 2012
  13. ^ Our History AAT Kings
  14. ^ AAT Kings takes large stake in Cairns Down Under Tours Cairns Post 20 August 2014
  15. ^ AAT Kings FNQ partnership Travel Daily 20 August 2014
  16. ^ AAT Kings Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  17. ^ Sustainable Travel AAT Kings

External links[edit]