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Our Crew

Tri State Safari's crew members come from all walks of life. With occupations ranging from small business owner to law enforcement to child care, the one thing they all have in common is a strong passion for the Outback. Our team is dedicated to showcasing this unique and inspirational land to the very best of our ability. It is our hope that you fall in love with it as much as we all have.

But before you travel with us, let us introduce to you the people who work behind the scenes, to create and lead the award-winning tours that Tri State Safaris has become renowned for.


  • Janine Gowenlock - Manager

    Janine Gowenlock - Manager

    With an extensive career in project management and business marketing, Janine found herself falling in love with Tri State Safaris, after originally operating as the marketing manager for 'Out of the Ordinary Outback' - a tourism group that operates a variety of iconic outback destinations, including Tri State. Originally based in Sydney, Janine migrated West to Broken Hill looking for a new "adventure" away from the city commotion.    

    With a degree in Social Science and qualifications in Business Management, Janine has previously taken on corporate roles working on multiple multi-million dollar tenders. Most notable of these is the Waratah Train Project with Downer (worth over $3.4billion), which she won and subsequently became a project manager for 6 years. Her career has also led her to work within sporting industries such as Australia's National Rugby League in marketing and corporate roles.

    A family girl at heart, Janine sought a career change after welcoming her beautiful daughter Maddie to the world. Rejoining the workforce, Janine joined Australian company Cashpoint part-time, before eventually taking over the Marketing position for Out of the Ordinary Outback.

    When the opportunity to join the Tri State Safaris team arose, Janine made the ultimate decision to move to Broken Hill with her partner and toddler looking for a sense of "adventure" and a balance of work and life away from the Sydney commotion. Trading in her Sydney home on the northern beaches, our beloved beach-dweller found a home beneath the far-reaching blue skies of outback Broken Hill in February 2017 – and has loved every minute of it. 

    Being a free spirit and avid traveller (she’s visited 32 countries ... so far!), Janine has always enjoyed cultural experiences and adventure. Now she can experience the adventure of our large back yard by working in the industry with Australia's most highly awarded 4WD tour operator. 

    Janine sees the vision of Tri State Safaris and recognises the potential for Broken Hill to grow in tourism. It is her hope that as Broken Hill continues to grow as a tourism hub for outback Australia, that Tri State Safaris is able to play a major role in providing travellers with high-quality, eco-friendly and unforgettable experiences in the diverse region that it calls home. 

    Both Janine and Irving have a big job ahead of them, caring for the legacy that Mick and Jo are leaving behind. But with their passion, dedication and commitment to our customers as well as the regions we travel, we are certain that Tri State Safaris is in good hands. They look forward to the challenges and the many different faces they will meet along the way, to ensuring the smooth running of Tri State Safaris and bringing the company to that next level. 


  • Irving Blundell

    Irving Blundell - Operational Manager

    Irving's combined love of travel and the Australian Outback is what originally led him to Tri State Safaris, where he first began his career as a tour driver and guide. Throughout the six years that followed, his passion for this remarkable country only grew. In 2017 his dedication and experience led to his appointment as operational manager, when founder Michael McCulkin retired from the role.

    Irving first moved to Broken Hill in 1995, with wife (and local artist) Andrea Blundell. Soon after arrival, Irving began work at popular local restaurant Alfresco's, were he was manager for over 15 years.  During this time he found himself driving the Bush Mail run with passengers, for just over a year. Irving has always believed in giving back to his community, and since 2005 he has been a retained with Fire Rescue NSW. 

    A real country boy at heart, his interests and hobbies include fishing, camping, boating, bush walking, tennis, tour driving and travel.


  • Geoff Spangler

    Geoff Spangler - Driver/Guide

    Beginning his employment in 1999, Geoff is one of the most experienced tour driver/guides working for Tri State Safaris today. His vast knowledge of the Outback, its environment and its culture, always keeps our passengers sitting on the edges of their seats. While his quick wit and intellect ensure there is never a dull moment. 

    Geoff is a passionate stock and station agent. He is also a mining veteran, working in "processing-exploration" for a great chunk of his mining career. To this day he maintains a mining position, working in mine site rehabilitation with CSIRO - when he's not off leading great Outback adventures that is!

    Outside of work, Geoff is a competitive tennis player. His hard work and tireless effort earnt him a silver medal at the Masters Games in 2013.

    His hobbies and interests include tennis, geology and Australian Outback travel.


  • Mark Sutton

    Mark Sutton - Driver/Guide

    Mark is our senior local indigneous guide. Prior to joining the Tri State Safaris team over 10 years ago, he was a former Aboriginal Heritage Sites officer with NSW National Parks.

    Mark holds a Diploma in Adult Education and a Certificate IV in Assessment and Training. Over the years, one of Mark's roles has been to ensure all of our staff have an exceptional level of knowledge and caring to conduct tours to places such as Mutawintji National Park, and the other areas of cultural significance that we visit.


  • Phil Stubbs-Mills

    Phil Stubbs-Mills - Driver/Guide

    Phillip grew up in Western Australia and really developed his love of the Australian Outback while was working as a stockman at an early age. Phil served with the Navy for 9 years before heading back to the wilds of WA.  After moving to Sydney he joined the Federal Police then the NSW Police.  Here Phil developed a number of skills, including taking on the role of Inspector to co-ordinate a number of events at the Sydney Olympics.
     

    Phil has been working with us since the mid 1990’s, after he and owner Michael worked together as instructors at the NSW Police Driver Training School in Sydney.  He has travelled to just about every town in the country, and has a great knowledge of everything Outback. Phil is also a qualified 4WD instructor and when not on tour he may be somewhere around the country conducting 4WD courses.


  • Sara-jayne

    Sara-jayne Mullins - Office Administration

    A country girl through and through, Sara-jayne has spent most of her life living and working in the rural Australian Outback. Born in South Australia, Sara-jayne spent her early years growing up on a sheep station before moving to Woomera where she spent the remainder of her childhood. Entering adulthood, Sara-jayne moved to Innamincka where she worked as a housekeeper, waitress and barkeeper at the Innamincka Hotel.

    Her later travels included cattle station work near Windorah and Roma. Falling in love with fellow country boy Shane, Sara-jayne fell pregnant and they settled down in Murray Bridge for a couple of years. In 2007 the Mullins family moved on to Broken Hill where they fell in love with the abundant opportunities the old-fashioned community had to offer to a young family. Five children later, Sara-jayne began work again as a waitress at the renowned Palace Hotel, before we were lucky enough to claim her!

    With a plethora of experience working and travelling through the regional Outback, Sara-jayne's personal knowledge of many regional communities and outback roads is a massive resource to our customers. She's also know for her big smile and friendly advice, so make sure to pop in and say hello!


  • Danika Sartori

    Danika Sartori - Marketing and Administration Officer

    Born and bred Broken Hill local, Danika is one of our booking specialists and general office "all-rounder". Admidst the general duties of administration she also works on maintaining the Tri State virtual presence through websites and social media, writing editorials and helping the oldies operate their computer systems. She enjoys meeting all of the interesting personalities that we take on tour with us, and the opportunity to work with such talented and passionate staff as those of the Tri State Safaris family.

    Danika is a qualified child care worker, and has dabbled in both fictional and non-fictional writing since she was a teenager. She has worked in the Tri State office for over six years and has loved every minute of it. So much so, that upon her relocation to Adelaide in January this year, Danika retained her role at Tri State Safaris, as a remote employee.

    With a thirst for adventure and two young boys in tow, Danika LOVES to travel! The only thing she enjoys more than planning her next holiday, is helping you to plan yours!


  • Michael McCulkin

    Michael McCulkin - Founder


    Originally from Sydney, Michael is the founder and original owner of Tri State Safaris. His love of the Australian Outback began as a child, during many visits to his grandparents' home in Bourke, where he would regularly go camping and fishing. On April 28th 2016, Michael McCulkin, passed ownership of the business onto Scott Smith, and provided consultation services in conjunction with his wife Joanne McCulkin in their role as Tri State Safaris' business managers for the next year. 

    In April, Michael and Joanne plan to retire from Tri State Safaris to seek new adventures in their new Queensland home. Successors, Irving Blundell and Janine Gowenlock, are sure to continue the Tri State Safaris legacy with similar passion and dedication. With such a long history and strong love for the Australian Outback, we're sure Michael and Joanne will be frequent visitors to Broken Hill and outback NSW in the years to come.

    In a "previous life" Michael was a builder, before starting a 20-year career in the NSW Police Force. Much of his career was divided between the Mounted Police, the Highway Patrol (both bikes and cars), and the Police Driver Training School, before finishing the last 5 years as a Highway Patrol Commander in Broken Hill

    Among many other things, his police career left him with qualifications in both Driver Training and Emergency Management, which are both great attributes when running any company in remote areas.

    Michael is also the founder and Chief executive of the Australian 4WD Academy, which is a Registered Training Organisation offering 4WD, Defensive Driving and ATV training to individuals, corporations and Government Departments across NSW.

    Michael loves everything outdoors, and is passionate about the natural environment, and sharing it with others. He is an accredited Eco Guide, and is the driving force behind Tri State Safaris' Advance Eco Certification and commitment to sustainability.

    His interests include travelling, 4WDing, flying and he is an avidly keen scuba diver.

    In his "spare time" Michael is engaged in a number of committees and boards, including the Inland NSW Tourism board, Broken Hill Tourism Task Force, Inland NSW Tourism Awards Board and the NSW National Parks Far West Region Advisory Committee. In 2013 Michael was proud to be the recipient of the Ted Wilson Award for Outstanding Contribution to Regional Tourism by an Individual.


  • Joanne McCulkin

    Joanne McCulkin - First Manager


    Joanne has been an integral part of Tri State Safaris since 1998, when she met Michael and moved to Broken Hill. 

    Originally from Sydney, Joanne has spent a good portion of her adult life living in Darwin and Papunya in the Tanami Desert. Her time in the Territory left her with a love of the Australian Outback and of travelling in remote areas. This passion has only grown as she has explored more and more of the Outback, sharing some of her favourite destinations with Tri State travellers.

    Prior to having children, Joanne was an officer of the Australian Customs Service, working in both Sydney and Darwin.

    Supporting her husband, Tri State Safaris founder, Michael McCulkin, Joanne's position within the tour company saw her take on many roles as the business grew. Although in later years, her main role was in administration, marketing and office maintainence, she was not one to shy away from adventure.  She has both 4WD and Coach driver accreditation, and over the years has spent as much as half of her time on the road as a driver/guide sharing the Australian Outback with our customers. Without fail she has always been one of the drivers on our popular Simpson Desert and Kimberley tours (and any others she can fit into an always busy year).

    In April, Michael and Joanne plan to retire from Tri State Safaris to seek new adventures in their new Queensland home. Successors, Irving Blundell and Janine Gowenlock, are sure to continue the Tri State Safaris legacy with similar passion and dedication. With such a long history and strong love for the Australian Outback, we're sure Michael and Joanne will be frequent visitors to Broken Hill and outback NSW in the years to come.

    In 2012, Joanne was proud to be the joint recipient, with Michael, of an Outstanding Contribution to Outback Tourism Award. 

    Her interests include travelling, 4WDing, swimming, photography and she is a passionate scuba diver.