Pioneering & Experienced
The APT Story
When the trams stopped, opportunity knocked
In the 1920s, the cable tram drivers in Melbourne’s northern suburbs went on an extended strike. While some saw inconvenience, a 24-year-old mechanic named Bill McGeary saw opportunity. Bill converted his truck into a makeshift bus and began ferrying commuters. Over the next 20 years, he bought more buses to cover more and more routes.
School rounds and greyhounds
As the business grew, Bill looked beyond commuter bus routes and secured contracts for a number of school runs as well as trips to greyhound and harness racing events. But in the mid-1950s, Bill’s health began to fail and the once-thriving business deteriorated. Determined to save it, Bill’s son, a then 19-year-old Geoff McGeary, obtained a special under-age bus driver’s licence and took up the challenge of running McGeary’s Parlor Coaches.
Next stop: the Red Centre
As it turned out, Geoff not only possessed his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, but also his own insatiable appetite for discovering new destinations. Recognising Australia’s increasing enthusiasm for domestic tourism, Geoff became involved in pioneering camping holidays to Central Australia and Queensland.
On board with the times
As the 1960s rolled into the 1970s the company, having become Australian Pacific Coaches, was soon conducting day tours and themed weekends, including trips that took Victorians to Sydney to see the then-risqué musical, Hair. In the mid-70s the company made its first foray overseas, operating escorted journeys through New Zealand as Australian Pacific Tours (APT). Following almost two decades of consistent growth, APT looked even further afield and started its Canada and Alaska program in 1991. In doing so, the company moved beyond traditional coach touring to include journeys by luxury train and cruise ship. Over the years, APT also built on its outback experience in the Northern Territory and introduced luxury wilderness adventures in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region.
Embarking on new adventures
In 2005, Geoff saw an opportunity to introduce Australians and New Zealanders to a new style of travel and launched the company’s innovative European river cruising holidays. Since then, APT has continued to expand its range, which today covers more than 70 countries around the globe.
On a personal note, Geoff’s services to Australian tourism were acknowledged in 2014 when he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. He was also recognised as an Australian Tourism Legend at the 2015 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. Geoff is characteristically modest about his achievements. “It’s not about what I’ve done, it’s about our people,” Geoff reflects. “Our people are so passionate about dreaming up once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences for our guests and making them possible. That makes me really proud.”