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Here's our latest press releases from Bruny Island Cruises and Tasman Island Cruises.

Robert Pennicott named a Traveler of the Year by National Geographic

Robert Pennicott

November 27, 2012 – Today, National Geographic has named Robert Pennicott, founder of the award-winning cruise business Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, as a Traveler of the Year for 2012.

Robert has been recognised for his unique connection with travel – as an entrepreneur, ecotourism operator, adventurer, environmentalist and philanthropist.

"We sifted through hundreds of nominations to pick world-shaking people on innovative missions,” said George Stone, contributing editor of National Geographic Traveler. “Each of these dedicated voluntourists, green-minded adventurers and culture-embracing pilgrims reminds us that we have the power to reach beyond the bubble of our daily lives, learn from locals in far-flung places and make a difference both around the world and in our own neighbourhoods."

In 1999 Robert founded Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, showcasing the spectacular coastal scenery, geology and wildlife of southern Tasmania. Since then, his award winning Bruny Island Cruises and Tasman Island Cruises have impressed and delighted more than 300,000 guests.

The custom-built yellow boats provide an unequalled cruising experience, taking guests inside sea caves, up to blowholes and beneath the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. They enjoy close encounters with abundant wildlife such as seals, dolphins, migrating whales and seabirds.

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Robert Pennicott named Tasmanian of the Year 2012

Robert Pennicott

Robert Pennicott, entrepreneur, environmentalist, adventurer, philanthropist and multi-award-winning pioneer of Tasmania's eco-tourism industry has been named as Tasmania's 2012 Australian of the Year.

Responding to the announcement by Premier Hon Lara Giddings MHR in a ceremony at Meadowbank Estate on 21 November, Robert Pennicott made a brief and heartfelt speech, thanking his wife Michaye and children Georgina, Mia and Noah, who were all so excited that he has won this prestigious award. He now travels to Canberra to represent Tasmania in the national Australian of the Year awards, which are announced on 25 January, on the eve of Australia Day.

The award acknowledges Rob's achievements in a range of areas over a number of years, although 2010 and 2011 have been particular landmarks. During 2010, the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, which he founded with Wildcare in 2007, achieved a major goal, eradicating feral pests from Tasman Island. So far the Pennicott family's support for the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund has topped $100,000.

2011 also marked the establishment of The Pennicott Foundation, which he and Michaye have set up as the flagship organisation for the family's philanthropic initiatives. Through this new fund, Robert will contribute to his own nature conservation projects well into the future and will also work for causes with a much wider focus. The first of these is his involvement in Rotary International's End Polio Now project, a global fund-raising effort in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of End Polio Now is breathtakingly simple – to eradicate completely the crippling disease of poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis) from the world, once and for all. Rob's approach to supporting this cause was typically bold and adventurous - during 2011, along with co-skipper Mick Souter and cinematographer Zorro Gamarnik, he made the first-ever outboard driven vessel circumnavigation of Australia choosing two 17 foot inflatable dinghies, building awareness of the disease and raising more than $275,000 for conservation and the End Polio Now campaign (www.followtheyellowboatroad.com).

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Tasmanian Adventurer Completes World First Circumnavigation of Australia

Robert Pennicott completes Journey

Tasmanian adventurer Robert Pennicott, fellow skipper Mick Souter and cameraman Zorro Gamarnik completed their epic circumnavigation of Australia today, arriving at Sydney's Darling Harbour Marina at 2.15pm.

After more than three months at sea, the trio are the first to circumnavigate Australia and Tasmania in an outboard-driven boat.

Lead by Robert Pennicott, founder of Tasmanian tourism business Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, the crew have been travelling in two 5.4m yellow inflatable dinghy-sized RIBs. Since leaving Sydney on the 2nd June, they have travelled 12,000 miles in an anti-clockwise direction along the coast.

The final week of the trip has been a family affair, with Robert's daughter Mia (12) and son Noah (10) joining him from Hobart to Sydney. "It's been fantastic to have Mia and Noah with me for the last week. I've really missed them these last couple of months," Robert said.

Robert and his crew have been raising money for conservation and to help Rotary eradicate Polio from the world. Bill Gates has pledged $355 million if Rotary can raise $200 million by 30th June. They are currently $15 million short of this goal. The $555 million total is anticipated to lead to the worldwide eradication of polio, with just $10 vaccinating 17 children against the disease.

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Tasmanian Entrepreneur to Circumnavigate Australia for Polio Cause

Follow the Yellow Boat Road

On Tuesday, 31 May 2011, Tasmanian entrepreneur Robert Pennicott will be departing for an epic journey entitled “Follow the Yellow Boat Road”, when he circumnavigates Australia in a 5.4m inflatable yellow dinghy to raise funds for Polio eradication and conservation.

His aim is to raise the additional $39 million needed by Rotary International to hit the $200 million benchmark, to which Bill Gates has pledged to contribute $355 million more. The grand total of $555 million is anticipated to lead to the total worldwide eradication of polio, with a donation of just $10 vaccinating 17 children.

A passionate mariner and conservationist, Robert, who is also the founder of award-winning, Tasmanian eco-cruise business Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, was keen to commit his skills to the worthy cause. Funds will be raised via an online auction off up to four coveted seats on each leg of the voyage. Online donations will also be accepted at www.followtheyellowboatroad.com. "Follow the Yellow Boat Road" will be one of the biggest fundraising efforts ever undertaken in Australia.

"In my lifetime, I hope to make a substantial difference to the world," Robert said. "I have dreams to give away a lot more money than what I do now, so I have come up with an idea that will make me the catalyst to hopefully raising many millions of dollars."

"Follow the Yellow Boat Road" will see Robert circumnavigate Australia in an anti-clockwise direction from Sydney to Sydney, on a voyage that is expected to take approximately 75 days and cover 12,000 nautical miles. Accompanying him on an identical 5.4m Naiad rib vessel will be Mick Souter, the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Operations Manager, who is equally as skilled and inspired for the journey.

One or two seats per boat will be auctioned via the website www.followtheyellowboatroad.com to the highest bidder on 48 of the expeditions 77 segments, with all funds raised going towards the cause. 92 per cent of the funds will be donated to Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign, and 8 per cent will be donated to the Pennicott Foundation, which will undertake island and coastal restoration projects in Australia and around the world.

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Tasman Island Pest Eradication Success

Tasman Island

Tasman Island has been declared cat-free, following the success of a program to eradicate the feral pests that have wreaked havoc on the island’s populations of ground-nesting seabirds.

Rangers from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment have monitored the island regularly since the establishment in 2009 of the eradication program, which has been strongly supported by ecotourism operator Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.

A final check of the 120-hectare island recently found no sign of feral cats and the island has been declared free from the predators, which were killing an estimated 50,000 birds every year.

Rob Pennicott says that he and his staff are thrilled to have been able to support the Tasman Island initiative through a $65,000 donation to the Wildcare Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, which Rob and his family established to assist important Parks & Wildlife conservation projects.

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Sea Eagle Release

Young Sea Eagle Soars Back To New Life

Today, a fit, healthy and fully rehabilitated juvenile White bellied Sea Eagle was released back into the wild – from the canopy of an eco-cruise boat!

Craig Webb of Raptor & Wildlife Refuge of Tasmania Inc and Robert Pennicott of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys had the privilege of releasing the young eagle as Rob's boat glided through a quiet reach of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

"The wooded shorelines of the Channel are ideal habitat for sea eagles - watching their strong and graceful flight is one of the great delights of spending time in and around this wonderful southern Tasmanian waterway," Rob says. "It was an exciting and heart-warming moment to see this young bird fly free, because it definitely would not have survived without the care of Craig and his team of volunteers."

Craig Webb established Raptor & Wildlife Refuge on a 20 acre property overlooking Kettering and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Among the outstanding features of the world-class facility are two of the largest raptor flight aviaries in the southern hemisphere, purpose built to flight-train wedge-tailed eagles, sea eagles and other birds, during their recovery from injury.

"Our team nursed the juvenile sea eagle back to health and strength," Craig says. "Upon arrival it was severely undernourished and too weak to fly, during its five months with us, the bird gained more than a kilogram in weight and was fighting fit and ready for release."

Using one of Rob's boats for the release was appropriate, because his family ecocruising business are proud sponsors of the Raptor & Wildlife Refuge, which depends on the hard work and dedication of Craig and his volunteers, with assistance from sponsorship, membership, donations and a grant from The Tasmanian Community Fund.

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Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Wins 3 State Tourism Awards

The wins keep coming for Tasmanian eco-cruising pioneer Rob Pennicott and his team at Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, winning 3 categories at the 2010 Tasmanian Tourism Awards.

Rob's flagship cruise experience, Bruny Island Cruises, won the Tourist Attraction and Ecotourism categories. Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, which encompasses both of the cruise experiences, Bruny Island Cruises & Tasman Island Cruises, has been awarded Tasmania's 2010 Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism.

"We were very excited to be named Best Tasmanian Attraction and Best Ecotourism, as well as winning the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism," Rob says. "Each of the awards is important to us for different reasons and it's a great thrill to be acknowledged across a wide variety of criteria."

This is the fourth win for Bruny Island Cruises in the Tourist Attraction category, building on its success in this category in 2006, 2008 & 2009. As a result, Bruny Island Cruises has been inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame. The Tourist Attraction award recognises the significance of Bruny Island Cruises in raising the profile of Bruny Island, south-east of Tasmania's capital city of Hobart, as a key destination for local and interstate visitors.

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Support for the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund reaches $100,000

Tasman Island

Tasmania's multi-award winning ecocruising business Pennicott Wilderness Journeys recently announced a donation of an additional $35,000 to the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, which is managed by Wildcare for important Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife conservation projects. This latest donation brings Pennicott Wilderness Journeys' sponsorship of the Fund to a grand total of $100,000, since Rob Pennicott established it in 2008.

To date, the money has been used for the cat eradication program on Tasman Island, where feral cats have been decimating the island's ground nesting seabirds. This program is due to be completed in May-June this year, ending the environmental destruction caused by generations of feral cats – the descendants of lighthouse keepers' pets – on populations of fairy prions and short-tailed shearwaters.

The Tasman Island project is the first ever cat eradication program undertaken on a near-offshore Tasmanian island. It involves aerial baiting using a humane toxin, which kills the feral cats quickly but without distress, in a manner similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. The baiting will be followed by active hunting of any surviving cats. Remote cameras and other technology will be used to continue surveillance of the island for another one to two years.

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Tasman Island Restoration Project

Rob with Peter Mooney

A project to restore the natural values of Tasman Island will begin next week with an aerial baiting program to eradicate cats from the island.

The project, costing approximately $100,000, is a cooperative effort between WILDCARE Inc through the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, the Parks and Wildlife Service and the Resource Management and Conservation Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

Eco-cruising pioneer Rob Pennicott, who established the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, said that he and his staff at Bruny & Tasman Island Cruises are proud to be strong supporters of the cat eradication project.

"Every time our cruises pass beneath the spectacular sea crags of Tasman, it's great to be able to explain to our local, interstate and international guests that the funds we donate are helping Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service to complete this important task," he said.

"Each year, we're privileged to show tens of thousands of visitors the magnificent coastlines of south-east Tasmania. Our continuing support of the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund further strengthens our commitment to preserving this precious coastal environment for the future."

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Bruny Island Cruises wins Australian Tourism Award

Rob and Michaye at the awards

Tasmanian eco-cruising pioneer Rob Pennicott and his team continue to win major awards on the national stage – at tonight's Australian Tourism Awards at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart, Rob's Bruny Island Cruises won the Australian Ecotourism category for 2009.

After sweeping success in the Tasmanian awards leading up to the Australian finals, Bruny Island Cruises had the unusual opportunity to win national awards three different categories - Tourist Attraction, Ecotourism and the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism.

"It's a huge thrill to get national recognition like this, and a wonderful acknowledgment of all the people who work so hard to make our business a success," Rob Pennicott says.

"Since we started back in 1999, it's been a total team effort, all the way – without our skippers, bus drivers, catering staff, deckhands, finance, marketing and promotion staff – not to mention all our partners and business colleagues in the Tasmanian tourism industry – none of these awards would ever be won."

Bruny Island Cruises began when Rob, a professional fisherman, realised that the spectacular coastline where he made his living was a secret that most people never discovered.

"I used to take friends and visitors to Tassie along the South Bruny coast and it blew them away," Rob says. "So I started the eco-cruising business to share the wonders of the region. In our first season we carried just a few hundred people – last year we took more than 26,000 guests to see pods of dolphins, fur seals, migrating whales, sea eagles, albatrosses, deep sea caves and huge sea cliffs."

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New Pennicott Wilderness Journeys office opens on Hobart's waterfront

Hobart office opening

Today Michelle O'Byrne MP, Minister for Tourism and the Arts, officially opened Pennicott Wilderness Journeys' new Hobart Waterfront office.

Tasmania's eco-cruising pioneer Robert Pennicott's new Hobart base and booking office is located in the Dock Head Building within the heart of Hobart's maritime precinct, at the entrance to Constitution Dock (previously the site of CH Smith Marine).

The new office creates a high-profile capital-city presence to showcase Rob's two multi-award winning products, Bruny Island Cruises and Tasman Island Cruises. These spectacular 3 hour coastal wilderness cruises which travel along two key Tasmanian coastal locations, Bruny Island and Port Arthur, have become some of Tasmania's most desired experiences.

The new waterfront office for Pennicott Wilderness Journeys represents an additional investment of $400,000 and adds three new employees to the business, taking the total number of staff to 45 Tasmanians.

"We've invested heavily in Tasmanian tourism enterprises and we're proud to be able to provide significant employment for local people, with all the flow-on benefits that brings for the communities of Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula, the places where we operate" Rob says.

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Triple Treat for Rob Pennicott's Team

Rob receiving Tas Tourism Award

Bruny Island Cruises wins all three of its categories entered in the 2009 Tasmanian Tourism Awards

The wins keep coming for Tasmanian eco-cruising pioneer Rob Pennicott and his team at Bruny Island Cruises. Already an icon among Tasmanian visitor experiences, the cruise along the remote and spectacular coastline of South Bruny Island won all three categories entered in the 2009 Tasmanian Tourism Awards.

"We were very excited to be named Best Tasmanian Attraction and Best Ecotourism, as well as winning the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism," Rob says. "Each of the awards is important to us for different reasons and it's a great thrill to be acknowledged across a wide variety of criteria."

The Best Tasmanian Attraction award follows on success in the same category in 2006 and 2008. It recognises the significance of Bruny Island Cruises in raising the profile of Bruny Island, south-east of Tasmania's capital city of Hobart, as a key destination for local and interstate visitors, along with increasing numbers of international visitors to Tasmania. The ecocruise has been featured in travel media around the globe, including recognition by the prestigious Travel & Leisure Magazine 2008 yearbook as 'One of the Greatest 100 Trips of the World.'

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Australian Geographic Story on Robert Pennicott

Yellow boats

Featured in the July/August/September issue of Australian Geographic magazine.

Former fisherman Rob Pennicott has gone more than 10 summers now without taking a fish from a net or dragging crayfish from tea-tree pots. Instead, he runs a fleet of six custom-designed boats on the Tasman Sea.

These days, instead of fishing, the 43-year-old annually nets about 20,000 tourists, who take his Bruny Island Cruises tours. Together they explore the dramatic coastlines of Bruny and Tasman islands, south and south-east of Hobart.

Rob fell in love with the Tasmanian coast at the age of 12, after buying his first dinghy from his dad and turning his dream of catching and selling fish into reality. More than three decades later, he's following a new dream - to protect the coast he's always held dear.

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Robert Pennicott Features in National Telstra Campaign

Rob Pennicott in National Telstra Campaign

Tasmanian eco-cruising pioneer Rob Pennicott, who established Bruny Island Cruises and Tasman Island Cruises, is featuring in a national Telstra advertising campaign for the 2009 Telstra Business Awards highlighting successful Australian innovators.

Under the headline 'It's been a rough ride but we never felt like abandoning ship', the press advertisement portrays Mr Pennicott at his Adventure Bay base, with the purpose-built cruise boats he designed behind him and a distant Mt Wellington on the horizon.

Mr Pennicott's cruises have won a series of major Australian awards, including two national categories in the 2008 Telsta Business Awards: the Telstra MYOB Small Business Award for businesses with five to 20 employees; and the Sensis Social Responsibility Award for demonstrated leadership and contribution by a business to the environment, people, education or the community.

The Pennicott family's successful and dynamic businesses continue to grow, carrying more than 28,000 passengers in the 2007-2008 season along the coastlines of South Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula. The 2008-2009 season is on target to increase those numbers.

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New Success for the Pennicott Family

Pennicott Family

Rob and Michaye Pennicott's widely-acclaimed eco-cruises continued their string of award successes in the 2008 Tasmanian Tourism Awards, with Bruny Island Cruises named Tasmania’s Best Tourist Attraction and Tasman Island Cruises winning the award for Best New Tourism Development.

Both cruises explore sections of south-east Tasmania's remote and dramatic coastline, where the highest sea-cliffs in the southern hemisphere rise up 300 metres from the water. Rob Pennicott custom-designed his company's fast, comfortable and sea-kindly craft specifically for this type of eco-cruising.

Bruny Island Cruises operates from Adventure Bay, cruising south as far as the Friars, where Storm Bay meets the Southern Ocean. Tasman Island Cruises runs between Eaglehawk Bay and Port Arthur, giving guests a close encounter with Tasman Island on the way.

Intimate and varied observations of wildlife are key elements of both cruises. The boats drift quietly close to fur seal haul-outs; large pods of dolphins are very common; migrating whales are often sighted; and the variety of birdlife can include sea eagles, albatrosses, shearwaters, Australasian gannets and nesting cormorants.

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Rob and Michaye at national awards

Rob Pennicott's eco-adventures team wins major national awards

The Pennicott family's journey to success in the nation's most prestigious business awards began nearly a decade ago, when Rob Pennicott established the now internationally-acclaimed Bruny Island Cruises eco-adventure. Last year, he extended his scope to the spectacular coastline between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck, with the opening of his new venture, Tasman Island Cruises.

The outstanding quality and environmental sustainability of his team's tourism operations were acknowledged in Sydney on 10 October, with wins in two major national awards – the Telstra MYOB Small Business Award for businesses with five to 20 employees; and the Telstra Sensis Social Responsibility Award for demonstrated leadership and contribution by a business to the environment, people, education or the community.

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New Tasmanian eco-cruise introduces unique sea suits

New Tasman Island Cruises sea suits

Winter is no longer a barrier for exploring Tasmania’s sublime coastline with Tasman Island Cruises introducing Australia’s first eco-tourism, all-weather adventure suits.

Owner, Robert Pennicott, and the manufacturers of Antarctic Survival Dry Suits, used for Australian Antarctic Division expeditions, have collaborated to deliver cool climate comfort for the journey from Port Arthur into nature’s playground.

Tasman Island Cruises, the new eco-voyage by Tasmania’s multi-award winning experience Bruny Island Cruises, will provide passengers with the exclusive allweather adventure suits on departures throughout the year.

Mr Pennicott, said the suits now made Tasmania’s south-east coastline a destination for all seasons.
"Tasmania's coastline is a distinct ecological story that evolves all year," Mr Pennicott said.

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