Des Watts OAM

In this year’s Queens Birthday Honours list one name stood out for us at WUDU, that of Des Watts, who was awarded the Medal of Order of Australia for his services to the Tourism Accommodation Sector.

Des has been part of this industry since the early 1970’s when he and his family bought a vacant block of land in Ballarat, Victoria and turned it into an industry-leading caravan park.

The Ballarat Welcome Stranger Holiday Park was built in the early 1970s by the Watts family, led by Des and Margaret, with help from their family of six children. All the kids were involved in one way. One of the boys remembers plowing up an area to turn into the tennis court, he must have done a good job because it is still there on the same land he attacked with a tractor.

During those early years, Des took another lead in growing a vibrant caravanning industry with the formation of BIG4 CHAIN OF PARKS in 1979. Des joined together with three other operators in Ballarat to market their parks under the name of BIG4. Their success under this ‘brand’ was obvious so they invited other parks to join them, and the chain BIG4 was born.

Des has been very involved in all aspects of the industry, serving on various industry boards, plus tourism boards. He has been a passionate advocate for caravan parks and the importance of maintaining high standards and exceeding the growing demands and sophistication of their customers.

Throughout the years Des, with wife Margaret by his side, has expanded their parks to four, three in Victoria and one in South Australia. Today the overall management of the Watts Parks is in the very capable hands of his family.

Congratulations to Des from all of us at Parable Productions and WUDU, an outstanding award for a truly outstanding man.