A short profile I wrote for the Smiling Hill newsletter:
Pete Schlothauer has been around. Mostly, he’s been around Australia, although he did spend two years in the United Kingdom, with a few forays into Europe. And he’s been to Batam a few times, always staying at Smiling Hill and usually dining at Goodies Restaurant.
Born in Tamworth in New South Wales, he recalls his early days as “a gypsy life travelling around, as Dad chased work wherever he could get it. In all, I attended seven different schools and never felt the need to shoot anyone at any of them!”
After an eight-year stint in the army, he found himself sitting in a bar in Newcastle talking to an ex-army mate who was driving a tow truck and encouraging him to do the same.
“I started working two days later and ended up with my own tow truck business, with 19 vehicles and many major contracts – police, ambulance, fire, government fleet cars, city council and three major car clubs.”
Then, he sold his business and started over again, heading off into the Australian bush for a year.
“I picked up the backpacker’s itch hiking around Oz, so I ended up staying at one,” he recalls. Nine months later, he was running it.
After seven years, he was off again, this time to the UK. After many excursions throughout Europe, he returned home, married and raised two children.
“I had to get responsible,” he says over a cold beer at Goodies, “and I’ve been in tourism ever since, 24 years in a myriad of roles – accommodation, which led to bars and restaurants, to a skydiving company and now a tour company.”
Pete’s latest endeavour is as general manager of Oz Tours Safaris (www.oztours.com.au), out of Cairns, Queensland.
Family owned Oz Tours conducts camping and accommodated tours to Cape York Peninsula, the Gulf Savannah, Kimberley and Central Australia. Included in the company’s itineraries are overland, air and sea tours of everything from a Great Barrier Reef sea voyage to 4-wheel-drive outback camping safaris.
The company hosts about 1,000 adventurers a year, mostly senior people from Australia, with others from New Zealand, Germany and other European countries – a guest list that sounds eerily similar to that of Goodies Restaurant.
As general manager, Pete supervises a staff of 34 in-season, which runs from May to November. A small staff of five maintains the company’s facilities and equipment November to May. Tours run from seven-day overland and air excursions to a 17-day jaunt to Kimberley and the Tanami desert.
He finds time for some fun, as well.
“I play golf and ride motorbikes,” he says. “I own three (motorbikes). Why I don’t know you. You can only ride one at a time! I socialize a lot, and I run after my two daughters fixing cars.
“Mainly, I try to give advice about boyfriends, but that falls on deaf ears! But they are finding their feet in the world, so sooner rather then later I’ll be free to travel and play golf more on exotic golf courses.”
Golfing opportunities in Batam are one attraction for Pete, but they are not the reason he visits the island. Originally, it was “word of mouth” from Australian friends that brought him to Smiling Hill in 2009. The fact it was on Batam was coincidental.
“They were telling me about Smiling Hill and Goodies,” he says of the references several years ago. “You’ll really have a good time, they told me. It’s not like Thailand, which is all tourists.
“Here, I can kick back and relax and do what I want,” he continues. “At Smiling Hill, you don’t have to do anything. The rooms, the laundry service, the food at Goodies are all fantastic. And you meet so many interesting people. No day is ever the same.”
Which is a good thing for a man who moves around a lot.
To contact Pete Schlothauer or Oz Tours Safaris:
Toll free within Australia: 1-800-079-006
From overseas: +61 7 4055 9535