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YHA Australia’s Robert Henke retires after 42 years in the industry

Aug 6, 2020

After more than 18 years with YHA Australia as Operations Manager, Rob Henke has decided to retire and finally hang up his backpack. His career in the backpacking sector goes way beyond his time at YHA though – as far back as 1978 in fact (when “You’re The One That I Want” by Australia’s very own Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta topped the charts!)… He is definitely one of the longest-serving persons in the backpacker industry.

Originally from Amsterdam, Rob cut his teeth in backpacking with the Hostelling International (HI) network there, he was responsible for development and management of hostels in his home town (Vondelpark Hostel was his pride and joy ) and in The Hague.

After meeting his future (Aussie) wife, Kate, at a HI Conference on the Gold Coast in 1994, he moved permanently to Australia in 2000, where he started a family and had two daughters Emma and Lily. He also started a consultancy in the backpacking sector and worked on the development and operation of large independent hostels from Melbourne to Cairns.

Snapped up by YHA Australia in 2002, Rob then became involved in the development of many award-winning hostels, including Railway Square YHA, Sydney Harbour YHA, Canberra City YHA, Coffs Harbour YHA and Byron Bay YHA.

Rob’s standing in the industry is best illustrated by the Lifetime Achievement Award that he received in 2017 from the Backpacker Operators’ Association of NSW (BOA). On hanging up his bootstraps after serving for seven indefatigable years in a voluntary capacity as BOA’s Hon Secretary, they announced:

“Starting out as a hostel manager, this larger-than-life character has continuously strived to improve safety standards in the backpacker industry. He has worked tirelessly to level the playing field between Online Travel Agents and backpacker operators, even appearing at the hallowed halls of the NSW Parliament to lobby politicians to regulate the short-term rental market and hold Airbnb to account. He has also provided invaluable leadership as a mentor to newbies in industry roles, including new recruits to BOA. A giant figure in every sense of the word.”

YHA Australia thanks Rob for his ‘giant’ contribution, commitment to the cause, integrity, knowledge and passion – which still burns bright after 42 years in the backpacking sector.

After more than 18 years with YHA as Operations Manager, Rob Henke has decided to retire and finally hang up his backpack. His career in the backpacking sector goes way beyond his time at YHA though – as far back as 1978 in fact (when “You’re The One That I Want” by Australia’s very own Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta topped the charts!)… He is definitely one of the longest-serving persons in the backpacker industry.

Originally from Amsterdam, Rob cut his teeth in backpacking with the Hostelling International (HI) network there, he was responsible for development and management of hostels in his home town (Vondelpark Hostel was his pride and joy ) and in The Hague.

After meeting his future (Aussie) wife, Kate, at a HI Conference on the Gold Coast in 1994, he moved permanently to Australia in 2000, where he started a family and had two daughters Emma and Lily. He also started a consultancy in the backpacking sector and worked on the development and operation of large independent hostels from Melbourne to Cairns.

Snapped up by YHA Australia in 2002, Rob then became involved in the development of many award-winning hostels, including Railway Square YHA, Sydney Harbour YHA, Canberra City YHA, Coffs Harbour YHA and Byron Bay YHA.

Rob’s standing in the industry is best illustrated by the Lifetime Achievement Award that he received in 2017 from the Backpacker Operators’ Association of NSW (BOA). On hanging up his bootstraps after serving for seven indefatigable years in a voluntary capacity as BOA’s Hon Secretary, they announced:

“Starting out as a hostel manager, this larger-than-life character has continuously strived to improve safety standards in the backpacker industry. He has worked tirelessly to level the playing field between Online Travel Agents and backpacker operators, even appearing at the hallowed halls of the NSW Parliament to lobby politicians to regulate the short-term rental market and hold Airbnb to account. He has also provided invaluable leadership as a mentor to newbies in industry roles, including new recruits to BOA. A giant figure in every sense of the word.”

YHA Australia thanks Rob for his ‘giant’ contribution, commitment to the cause, integrity, knowledge and passion – which still burns bright after 42 years in the backpacking sector.

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