Feature Week 19: Outdoor Adventures
In week 19 of the National Year of Reading we focus on two ambassadors who spend a great deal of their time outdoors: Rob Paxevanos from the ACT and Robert Pennicott from Tasmania.
Robert started his first business as a fisherman in southern Tasmania, before creating Bruny Island Cruises. He used to take his friends fishing, and his business was a natural progression from fishing to showing off the Tasmanian coast.
His passion and enthusiasm has seen the business he founded in 1999 evolve into a world-class ecotourism operation, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Rob and those he works with have won numerous awards and accolades for conservation and sustainability efforts, and business excellence.
Robert was named Tasmanian Australian of the Year 2012 for his philanthropic and conservation achievements. This has included a sizable donation to the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, to finance the eradication of a feral cat species on Tasman Island. With his wife, artist Michaye Boulter, he established the Pennicott Foundation. The Foundation pursues conservation projects but has a much wider focus. Its first project with Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working towards the eradication of Polio. Last year, Robert circumnavigated Australia in a 5.4m inflatable dinghy and raised nearly $300,000 for this cause.
A believer in “dreaming big”, Robert hopes to make a substantial difference to the world, both through his tireless conservation efforts, and his passion to show visitors the pristine beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness.
Robert's thoughts on reading and the National Year of Reading
I think the National Year of Reading is a fantastic initiative. I really enjoyed being part of the National Simultaneous Storytime event, where I had the honour of reading to some very enthusiastic children at the Sorell Library.
Reading is an incredibly important skill that I think many of us take for granted in our day to day lives. We are always reading – books, magazines, newspapers, TV shows, signs, advertisements, on phones and computers – just about everything you can think of involves reading. It’s important for all of us to encourage children to master this important skill.
Robert's reading habits
- When do you read? Are you a constant reader or are there times when you don’t read at all? I’m constantly reading. At work, I read all kinds of things – emails, letters, news articles, websites and advertising just to name a few. When I get home, I look at homework with my kids and love reading them a bedtime story at night.
- Do you have a least favourite genre? Legal documents.
- What’s the book you read most often? My diary – it’s with me all day, every day. I’m constantly scribbling down phone numbers, notes and reminders.
- What was the last book you borrowed from your public library? I was part of the National Simultaneous Storytime event, where I read ‘The very cranky bear’ to children at the Sorell Library. I borrowed the book from the library the week before – because of course I had to have a practice!
- What was the last book you bought from a bookshop? I bought a book about fishing for my son Noah’s birthday. He’s right into fishing and it’s something we love to do together.
- What was the last book you received as a gift? ‘Wanting’ by National Year of Reading Tasmanian ‘Our Story’ winner Richard Flanagan.
- What’s the first book you can remember reading or having read to you? I vividly remember my parents reading the Enid Blyton books to me as a child. It’s pretty cool that I’m now reading those same classic tales to my own children before bed.
- Was your family a reading family? My family was definitely a reading family. Mum and dad used to read a chapter of a book to us before bed each night. It’s a tradition that Michaye and I have continued with our own children.
- Do you have a favourite book from your childhood? I used to love Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series.
- Where do you read? I read in all kinds of places, mainly at work. At home, we have a seat in a corner by the window which is a comfy, cosy spot to read. But my favourite place to read is to my kids at bedtime.
Robert's favourite reads
- 'Guinness book of records’
It’s a colossal collection of achievements which is certainly an entertaining and inspiring read. Some of the records are impressive, some astonishing and others are just downright crazy.
- 'National Geographic’
I’ve got a collection of hundreds of ‘National Geographic’ magazines that fill a huge bookcase in my house. I really love flicking through the pages, enjoying the stories and also the photography.
- ‘How to catch a fish’
Right from a young age I’ve always loved fishing. I got my first fishing book when I was still in primary school and have loved it ever since. I can’t even remember the name of that first book, but it inspired me to get right into fishing as a boy. I eventually became a professional fisherman up until the time I started Bruny Island Cruises in 1999. I now enjoy a relaxing spot of fishing with my family whenever I get the chance.
Out and about with Robert
In May, Robert read ‘The very cranky bear’ for the National Simultaneous Storytime at the Sorell Library in Tasmania.
Chris Oriel from the LINC Library says “Rob did a fantastic job, also participating in our songs and activities and was happy to take 'questions from the floor' about his other interesting journeys and activities."
Here are a few pictures taken during the storytime:
Are we there yet?
As a lover of the great outdoors, we are sure Rob will love the ‘Are We There Yet?’ exhibition, based on Alison Lester’s original artwork from her popular children’s book. The exhibition is gradually making its way around the country and is currently based at the Kingston LINC. You’ll need to hurry to make sure you don’t miss out on seeing this great exhibition that closes in Tasmania on 22 June.
For more information about the ‘Are We There Yet?’ touring exhibition and competition, take a look at the ‘Are We There Yet?’ information page:
For details about the Kingston LINC opening hours, go to their website:
Want to know more?
- For more information about Robert and his work, go to the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys website:
- You can see further information about the Pennicott Foundation on their website:
- Details about the Rotary End Polio Now campaign can be found on the Follow the Yellow Boat Road website:
- Take a look at Rob Paxevanos, our other featured ambassador during the 19th week of the National Year of Reading.
- If you want to see the other National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.
- Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.