The Tourism Australia board member

Interview with Hayley Baillie

“The key is to do things in parallel: do two things at the same time and eventually one becomes stronger.” Hayley Baillie.


This week’s engaging woman Hayley Baillie isn’t shy of an adventure.

She’s worked as a dive instructor with shark conservationist Valerie Taylor, holds Food Safaris with the likes of Maggie Beer and travels to far-flung places with her four boys and business partner/husband James.

They co-founded the striking Baillie Lodges in 2003, developing luxury Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, Longitude 131 at Uluru Kata Tjuta and Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island.

“Skin in the game” knowledge of our natural treasures has led to her most recent gig as Tourism Australia board member.

And there’s one more fun fact… but you’ll have to read to the end…

Hayley Baillie on


Martine Harte: Great to have you here Hayley, why do people visit our beautiful country these days?


Hayley Baillie: Oh, our natural beauty, aquatic and coastal experiences and our food and wine offering has been an interesting development. Research shows that visitors used to view our food and wine offering as about the sixth reason you’d pick to come here, France and Italy were always right up there.

But once people came to Australia they realised our food, wine and produce is so incredible. When we resurveyed them they put us up the top straight after France and Italy.

Our new global ambassador Chris Hemsworth is doing a fantastic job in our key markets, sharing his passion for Australia and letting people know why they should visit.

Has there been a Chris Hemsworth factor, have you noticed a spike in female tourists?


Hayley Baillie: (laughs) Actually the men love him as well!

What characteristics do you believe have helped your rise?


Hayley Baillie: I’m a people person so I love to connect. Communication skills, learning when to ask and something I got from parents is working in parallel.

Sometimes if we think, ‘we’re going to do a project but we’re not sure if we will pull it off,’  the idea is to do two things at the same time and eventually one becomes stronger.

For example, when we did Southern Ocean Lodge, we had land in Tasmania at the same time, we went like a bull at a gate at both of them and eventually the lodge looked like it would take off so we parked the Tassie one at that time.

That’s working in parallel.

When has it not worked out so well for you?


Hayley Baillie: I’ve got four boys and I work for my husband! (laughs)

I think that’s been challenging; the juggle of being there for my boys as well as being there for my husband in our business and obviously maintaining a strong marriage.

To get to the detail on every little project we do, down to the fabric in our lodges, the cushion sizes, all those little details – we’ve been married 15 years so we now really understand which one is stronger at certain things.


I counted 6 men and three women on Tourism Australia’s Board of directors…


Hayley Baillie: Well it’s soon to be four women.

Oh, news tip… can you reveal who?


Hayley Baillie:  Andrea Stains, a transport industry veteran and co-founder of Australian airlines.

What does the Tourism Australia board work involve?


Hayley Baillie: We have six board meetings a year and various other engagements within the industry which I would typically be involved in. Prior to my appointment, I sat on the food and wine advisory board which helped with the launch of the Restaurant Australia campaign.

Some women lack confidence when it comes to putting ourselves forward for this sort of thing..


Hayley Baillie: Oh, absolutely, when I was initially approached I said, “Oh, let me think about it: it wasn’t in my comfort zone.

I’m a fairly confident person in all areas of my life and found it fascinating that I did think it would really stretch me. Now I’m in the thick of it I’m feeling very comfortable and contributing the best I can.

What has been your best learning?


Hayley Baillie: I think going into something like this and having my mind broadened. I know a very niche part of my industry, high-end, luxury traveller, US/UK centric visitors coming to Australia.

Being on the Tourism Australia board is a much bigger picture than just what I know; I can speak with great authority to my niche so it’s been great to look at the broader picture.

Also, the advocacy, really understanding what our government does by using Tourism Australia to market our country as the most desirable place to visit in the world!

You’re a founding patron of the Australian Red Cross Society of Women Leaders’ how important is it to spark change in society? 


Hayley Baillie: Yes, I’ve been part of this philanthropic group of women for the last two years. We pool our donations and work together to advance the mission of Australian Red Cross by embracing and engaging women in our communities, across the country and across the world.


It would be remiss of us not to mention your dad: Dick Smith, entrepreneur, aviator, Australian of the Year, Australian Living Treasure, political activist… has it rubbed off?


Hayley Baillie: I’m a complete adventurer, my family is constantly being dragged to a far-flung corner of the world because that’s how I was brought up. My parents were always outback camping or heading to the North Pole, my husband loves the fact I’m always the one to organise great adventures.

Funnily enough, as a young person I just wanted to go to the Gold Coast with my friends! (laughs)

When you grow up you’re so influenced by your parenting and you watch the ideals that your parents have.

We were very much channelled to lead our own lives and create our own destiny, there was never any pressure to be part of a family business or involved in what they were involved in. We were given a strong work ethic.


  • Discover more about Hayley’s stunning Baillie lodges: Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island Longitude 131 facing Uluru and stunning Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island.


Learn how to make your mark on a board here.

Want to hear from more fascinating women?

Insights from: Telstra business award winners, members of The Arts and Sportswomen over here.

What is this Engaging Women project all about? Tap here to find out.