TriCare Retirement Villages are wonderful, diverse communities, and everyone has a story to tell. It is a privilege for staff who get to hear from residents first-hand – in fact, the tales are so rich that they deserve a bigger audience. We hope these blogs provide insight into the amazing lives of our wonderful residents. In this Resident Story, we will be meeting Robert, a Compton Gardens Retirement Community Resident.
Travelling the world is a dream to many, exploring the fantastic diversity of different countries and cultures and becoming enriched by the experiences and lessons that only travel can give. For these reasons, it is exciting to hear from someone who has had a colourful career exploring the world and helping others enjoy their tourism experience. Robert Shadforth started work at age 15 as a telegram delivery boy at the Brisbane GPO, but he was destined to travel much further than the telegrams he once delivered.
Seizing the opportunity for adventure
Robert was in an established career and walking back to the office in Brisbane City one day. Over the last 15 years he had done some travelling to different countries and has done quite a few trips during his recent long-service leave. These journeys might have been on his mind as he passed Skroo Turners Flight Centre on Queen Street that day. At that moment, he made a split-second decision and went in. Skroo himself was there (he only had a few shops in those days). Robert asked him if he was looking for tour managers for his Top Deck Travel company in Europe. His impulse worked, and he got the job.
Robert started out doing camping tours all over Europe, mostly on British double-decker buses but some on coaches with tents. After two years, he was selected to do the overland tours from London to Kathmandu and back on the double-decker buses via Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, and India to Nepal. He worked for Top Deck for about 12 years and did over 450 weeks on tour, including 15 overland tours to Kathmandu – a company record. He also did seven months of running public transport tours from Bali to Burma.
Calamity, luxury, and beyond
Looking for something new, Robert took on an African overland camping tour with Kamuka Travel. What should have been a wonderful trip did not go according to plan. Robert’s group was hijacked in the Sahara Desert by Taureg bandits. Robert was an experienced tour leader by this point, and he needed all his experience to escape this situation. He not only got his group away unharmed but with all their passports, bus papers, and his driver’s bar bill. This enhanced his reputation as a sought-after tour guide. After this misadventure, Robert decided to quit Africa and look for greener pastures.
He left Top Deck in 1993 and gained a tour manager’s job with Kuoni Travel, a large multinational travel company based in Switzerland. This company specialised in upmarket escorted tours to many places in the world. Robert did many tours of China, India, Egypt, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. Sometimes, he was ‘lent out’ to smaller tour companies to do special tours to Iran, Uzbekistan, and Borneo due to his overland experience.
The superb double-decker buses used for tours are so well-loved that one of these buses that Robert used for many tours, called Tadpoles, is now in the Isle of Wight Bus Museum.
The journey continues at Compton Gardens
When Robert turned 70, despite his expertise, the travel companies could no longer obtain insurance for him, so he finished his amazing career in travel. Robert decided to retire to Compton Gardens Retirement Community in May 2021, which is a decision he is very happy with.
Robert particularly likes the location of the Community, having the Hypermarket so close with its own private entrances, and the lifestyle it provides. Not surprising for someone who has travelled so much, Robert appreciates the nearby and regular bus service to the city and that everything is within easy walking distance.
Thank you so much Robert, for sharing your memorable story!