From The Deck With Tegan MacKenzie

How long have you been working for True North?

11 years (3 years as a Hospitality Attendant, 8 years and counting, as Hospitality Director)

What did you do before you worked at True North?

I completed a Cert IV Tourism and then Cert III in Marine Tourism at Central Tafe prior to working as a Tour Guide at the Aquarium of WA. I worked at AQWA for 2 years before starting on-board True North.

You have had a few different roles on the boat, what were they and what was the most challenging?

I started as a Hospitality Attendant and then moved into the Senior Hospitality Attendant role. I took on the Photography role the following year as an extra challenge, this role was much simpler back then as it was purely still images - no video or drones involved haha!

Which role is the most challenging?? mmm I feel you can't really compare - all roles were a challenge for the age I was at the time.

As a 20-year-old, I was adjusting to the long hours and learning a lot about the hospitality industry, now as a 33-year-old, I’m very comfortable in my Hospitality Director role but still feel 'challenged' enough with the daily expectations of the role.

Working on True North has always been an enjoyable mental and physical challenge 🙂

Describe an average day for Hospitality Director in the Kimberley? 

AM - Start the day early and help the girls with breakfast service. Make sure all activity numbers, tenders & guides are organised. Then assist with activities (I will usually lead a walk or join the Naturalist sightseeing).

PM - During lunch I confirm the following day's itinerary with the Master. Re confirm activities with each guest then assist with afternoon activities if required.

Evening - Shower and get ready for cocktail hour. Offer bar snacks, socialise in the bar area with the guests then prepare my evening speech. I always join the guests for dinner. During dessert I excuse myself so I can deliver my speech that describes what’s happening the following day.

Creating experiences for guests is important at True North. What does creating the experience mean to you?

The idea of creating the experience for me is creating lifelong memories and feelings that people will never forget. Experiences can be created through visuals, sounds, touch, feeling or a combination of all.

For example, the visual scenery of the Kimberley landscapes or the palm tree islands in Papua New Guinea. The sound of a cultural sing sing or even the sound of silence in the Kimberley. The feeling of weightlessness whilst diving or snorkelling. This all contributes to an overall experience.

What knowledge and expertise do you think are the most important for the crew members to have?

There are certain roles on-board that require prior knowledge, expertise and experience. The guides need to have a keen interest in fishing and boating and obviously our chefs need to have passion for fine dining.

But I have always believed that our young hospitality team are hired for their personality, usually over their previous experience. Not to say their experience isn't important, but our priority is to hire happy and enthusiastic crew who can work well in a team and have a strong worth ethic. It is very important that all of our crew members, regardless of their position, have the ability to communicate well with guests of all ages and backgrounds on a professional but also personal level.

You’ve done all of the True North itinerary’s multiple times, what’s your favourite and what makes that itinerary so special?

I could almost say this question is unanswerable, it is so hard to compare our itinerary’s as they all have so many different highlights.

If I really had to pick one though, it would be the Kimberley Ultimate. Partly due to the fact that I am from WA, but what I find so fascinating about the Kimberley is how the landscape is so diverse; one day you're in a river which flows through a deep gorge, the following day is low lying sandy beach country, then it's islands, a muddy river, gorges again, a reef system, a rain-forest pocket. The Kimberley coast is just such a diverse landscape where every day is different.

What impression of the Kimberley do you hope leave on the guests?

I just hope that when they leave the Kimberley the guests depart with a feeling that the itinerary, the boat, the crew, the food and the region has exceeded their expectations. Still to this day, the Kimberley blows my mind and exceeds my expectations on a daily basis.

If you could take all your friends and family on one True North activity - what would it be and why?

Swimming with the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay first comes to mind. But I think a Kimberley Heli-Picnic would have to win - I spent my 21st birthday at Eagle Falls so this would be my pick to take friends and family for a day!

What do you like doing while you are at home?

I spend a lot of time with my friends and family, particularly my sister and nieces. I keep very active and can't sit still for long - this is ingrained in me from working on True North haha! One of my favourite things to do is to go and watch the mighty Freo Dockers with my husband and dad.

How are you going to pass the time through this period of social lock down? 

I’m planning on creating a photo book for the crew. It will be the same style of book that our guests receive, but with lots of crew photos and iconic images.

True North directors Craig and Holly have recently had Golden Retriever puppies - so I have a puppy on the way…which I am sure will be taking up a lot of my time also.

What was the last Kimberley adventure like?

Kimberley Waterfalls 1 was really special. When we departed Broome, we were up to date with the Covid-19 situation, we had put all the necessary safety measures in place. Each day, the news around the world was getting worse, we kept the guests and crew well informed, but we felt as though we were in our own little 'True North bubble'. Everyone was healthy and happy and having a great time enjoying the beautiful Kimberley region after the wet season.

I have never taken my job for granted and I have always felt so grateful for the experiences I have had, we all knew that parts of the world were in full isolation, we felt incredibly fortunate. We were completely isolated in the most beautiful place in the world.

What are you most looking forward to when we get back on board for your next True North adventure?

I am looking forward to getting back to Broome and seeing the Broome office team, spending time with the crew and getting the boat ready to depart the wharf. I can't wait to meet and greet our next group of guests; I think it will be a wonderful atmosphere on-board.