Interview - Jackie Parry

Interview: Jackie Parry, Special Events Coordinator, Octagon Australia:
14th July

I spoke recently with Jackie Parry, Special Events Coordinator at Octagon Australia with event operations responsibility for Australian Safari. Jackie is a key member of the team that brings to you events such as Australian Safari 2004 and this is what she had to say!

Jackie what's your background, and that of the Australian Safari?

Jackie: I have been with Octagon Australia for almost 4 years working mainly on motor sport events and this will be my fourth Australian Safari. The Australian Safari is now into its 19th year and started in 1985 with a starting field of 312 competitors. This was a 7 day event from Sydney to Darwin called the Wynn’s Safari. It is amazing that 75% of the field did not complete the first day.

The event did not run in 1998 because the Playstation Around Australia Rally was run and organised by Octagon, but since then it has run every year and has become recognised as one of the most challenging off road events of its kind in the world.

We have big plans for the future of the Australian Safari and we hope to reintroduce a course in 2005 similar to the courses of the eighties which were extremely challenging in terms of length and duration – watch this space!!!

What have been Octagon's biggest achievements?

Jackie: I think that Octagon Australia’s achievements are varied, we have organised some wonderful major events both internationally and nationally, as well as providing an extremely professional approach to local events.

I think another factor is the sheer range of events Octagon Australia is involved in, including Targa Tasmania, Grand Prix Rally and Australian Safari right through to Gravity Games H20 in actions sports. We are also involved in just about every other aspect of sports marketing and management, including sponsorship, athlete representation, marketing, etc – we are the leaders in our business and it is great to be working with leaders.

What makes a good promoter or what makes a good promotional company?

Jackie: I think that the key issue to being a good promoter is delivering what we promise – we pride ourselves on this and it is a key part of our philosophy – also the whole team will get involved to really make it happen. Also the promoter has to believe in the event to make sure it works. We have passion on our side with everyone in our team!

What is the appeal of a motorsport event, such as the upcoming event?

Jackie: Motor sport has such a wide appeal and is not restricted just to people who have a passionate interest in cars. An event like the Australian Safari involves so many people supporting the competitors, families, service crews, support personnel and I believe the appeal of this event is the challenge and the opportunity to compete in such amazing areas such as the New South Wales Outback.

The Australian Safari remains unique as Australia’s leading off road international event in that it really is man (or even woman) and machine against the great outdoors. No other country in the world has such a varied terrain and the ultimate challenge of Australian Safari is to actually finish. Because of the amazing cooperation of property owners from all over Australia, our competitors have been able to access off road areas never before travelled on, at times spectacular. The camaraderie amongst competitors and support staff is also unique to this event and continues to amaze our International competitors. We try our very best to keep the price down to as reasonable and realistic a cost as possible.

What are the main qualifications one needs to meet to compete?

Jackie: Anybody can compete in the Australian Safari, all that is needed is the appropriately prepared vehicle, a driver’s licence, a competition licence and the desire to compete and even win.

What is the duration of the event?

Jackie: The event runs for 8 days with an additional day for the prologue to determine starting times and order.

Describe a typical day for you, leading up to a big event?

Jackie: There are many people working through different facets of the event. The majority of my day is answering competitor’s queries and speaking with our many overnight stops to ensure the entourage of approximately 500 people will have food, accommodation, amenities, fuel etc. I see my role as the face of the day to day contact with the competitors and making sure they are happy with everything we are doing, which is critical to us.

Who has been most supportive of the Australian Safari to date?

Jackie: Bob Carpenter our Clerk of Course. Without Bob it would be impossible to organise the Australian Safari. I am always amazed at his knowledge of every nook and cranny of Australia – he knows roads and tracks that are not even listed on maps, Bob’s passion and enthusiasm for the event are second to none.

How does the Internet assist you?

Jackie: Expediates all contact and provides a quicker communication means to our officials and competitors. Allows transfer of event related material to the many rural communities which we do not get the opportunity to visit prior to the event.

How do you know when you and the team have done a good job?

Jackie: Because of the tremendous number of people involved in the event I guess competitor and general feedback is the most direct form of communication following the event, however if entries are greater the following year that is also a good indicator. We know that it is very expensive to enter the event and to prepare vehicles, but we try our very best to offer the very best value for money to the competitors and the event sponsors. We also try our very best to be fair to all level of entrants, whether they are teams or private entries and we have changed the rules this year to reflect a better class of entry for privateers.

What type of car do you drive?

Jackie: Holden Astra – Holden will be very pleased to hear that! Sadly it is not a 4WD and does not go as fast as the ones in Australian Safari!

What is the most interesting place in Australia that you work has taken you?

Jackie: Northern Territory – I though it was an amazing place and although I am a country girl, so different to where I was brought up and Melbourne, where I live now!

What do you do to relax?

Jackie: I spend lots of time with good people and after Australian Safari I just take some time out and recover – slowly!!!!


Editors note: Media Man Australia will be staying close to the action, as we have a fellow in Melbourne who is getting ready to race in the 2004 rally, with our assistance.


Octagon Australia

Australian Safari

Media Man Australia


Motor Sport