Now would be a terrible time to give up. So we won't
Wow, this was set to be the year for Silver Compass Tours and right on target for the three year business plan!
After five years of intense on-ground research and three years of investing and re-investing in both our regional Australian and rural Italian food and wine cultural experiences, 2020 looked set to deliver with all of our experiences and events fully booked. It was the year we could finally maybe pay ourselves a salary!
> except the bushfires in Australia dampened Australian’s travel sentiment and we made the call early not to promote our Ciociarian adventures this year and focus on private groups only
> and then the bushfires damaged the train tracks over the Blue Mountains
> and then Italy shutdown
> and then COVID-19 came rushing into Australia and we had to cancel, reschedule and refund more than 100 people already booked for our upcoming March and April tours and events
> and we closed our restaurant Antica Australis three weeks after we opened it 🙃
To be honest, the last two weeks of March were heartbreaking.
In between ensuring that everyone who needed a refund received one, that all of our tour and event suppliers were paid in full (everything had already been booked) and that both businesses remained solvent to be able to be placed into hibernation, I seriously needed to go into hibernation myself.
Paolo and I have worked several jobs each simultaneously over the last five years so we could bootstrap Silver Compass Tours and Antica Australis. We were just at the point of jumping into our dream 100% and it’s a good thing we didn’t – our casual and project work is now sustaining us through all of this.
BUT WE ARE STILL HERE!
And really grateful to be living in a small, charming village in the middle of nowhere.
We all closed our businesses here in Carcoar earlier than directed by the health and government authorities to protect each other, and we’ve been maintaining social distancing for more than six weeks here. But we can still all speak to each other over fences and over the past few days the entire village seems to have developed a mania for taking well spaced out countryside walks so we are all waving hello. We are staying connected.
AND WE HAVE EVERY INTENTION OF RESTARTING AS SOON AS WE CAN.
And in the middle of all this?
> I made it onto the Travel Massive global list for ‘100 Inspiring Women Travel Founders’ – hey, at No.100 but at least I made it onto the list!!
> Our first tour of the season on 21 March was our last tour, but I received my dream tour review. My aim has always been to host experiences that are not only enjoyable and engaging, but that also help share a new perspective, a new way of thinking. I think I might just have cracked it with the newly-developed Antica Australis Day Tour..
> We were meant to be launching the Antica Australis day tours right about now, and right about now we would have been hosting our first American guests. But now we’ve got the chance to refine the details even further, so as soon as we can I will send you more details.
The Antica Australis day tours are a collaboration between Silver Compass Tours and local First Nation tour operator, Indigenous Cultural Adventures. It includes a walk through a community garden to discover more about edible indigenous plants, cultural visits to historic and sacred Wiradjuri sites in the Orange region and a bushtucker tasting. Then we transfer to Carcoar which was one of the first European settlements over the Blue Mountains and dive into the pioneer heritage of the bush with Paolo cooking lunch for us at Antica Australis.
So Paolo and I are pretty excited about getting those started up again, and we will also be offering Stay & Dine packages for boutique accommodation in Carcoar and a dinner experience at Antica Australis. The Provenance RoadTrip tour experience to regional NSW and our Ancient Southern Lands collaborative dining event in Carcoar will all still be going ahead. Whether it’s the next couple of months, towards the end of the year, or early next year. We will keep rolling.
We’ve got plans for some beautiful new Wild Heart of Italy experiences in the ‘hidden’ regions of Ciociaria and Molise too for the future. We are aiming for 2022.
We’ll stay in touch. Thanks to everyone who sent us notes to see if we were still alive – yes we are 😊 thanks also to everyone who were able to hang onto their tour and event tickets for now, you helped keep us and our valued suppliers all afloat at this crazy time, we can’t ever thank you enough.
We can’t wait to see you all sometime sooner rather than later: for lots of big hugs, lots of great food and wine, and pure joy at being able to explore together.
There will be a street party in Carcoar that you may not want to miss…
Kelly & Paolo
Silver Compass Tours
“My destination is no longer a place, but a new way of seeing.” Marcel Proust
Silver Compass Tours is a boutique tour operator based in the historic village of Carcoar in the Orange wine region of the Central West of New South Wales. Specialising in premium packaged regional Australia tour itineraries and with a vision for curating charming and immersive local food, wine and cultural travel experiences. This includes Wiradjuri cultural heritage and bush tucker experiences as well as exploring historic goldrush-era European settlement villages.
Silver Compass Tours was established in 2014 by Founder and Chief Experience Officer Kelly Picarazzi after returning to Australia following a global tourism career. Co-pilot Paolo Picarazzi is the Proprietor of their Italian locanda in the historic village of Carcoar, Antica Australis, serving up seasonal dishes based on fresh local produce, inspired by indigenous ingredients and ancient Ciociarian recipes.
Our mission is to enrich people’s lives by enhancing their discovery of people, places and new ideas.
Silver Compass Tours was awarded Bronze for ‘Excellence in Food Tourism’ in the 2019 Regional Tourism Awards and is a Quality Tourism Accredited Business through the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program. We are a proud member of the World Food Travel Association and a certified WFTA Culinary Tour Operator. We are also currently engaged to become a Sustainable Tourism Tour Operator Partner for international accreditation and certification with Travelife.
Owner and Chief Experience Officer, Kelly Picarazzi, established Silver Compass Tours in 2014 after returning to Australia following a global tourism and communications career. She has recently been named one of Travel Massive’s ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women Travel Founders’ globally for 2020.
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