Tribute to Ann Augusteyn, Capricorn Caves

Since the weekend’s sudden news of the loss of dearly loved Ann Augusteyn whilst travelling overseas, tributes have been posted from far and wide by the thousands of people she touched.

Ann’s legacy will last for decades to come; her passion for the environment, education and travel is shared by so many of us;  her love for our community and our destination is reflected every day in our efforts; her smile will never leave us; and her gentle, kind nature made her beautiful inside and out.

If you are not on social media and wish to send a personal message to Ann’s family you can send to and these will be passed on to Robert, Helen and John.

Long time colleague and friend David Morgans of Tourism and Events Queensland wrote “That is so so very sad.  Ann was not only a fantastic tourism operative and the epitome of a hard working grass roots operator our industry is built on but she was also an absolutely beautiful person. I don’t think she had a bad bone in her body and was universally admired and loved which is oh so very rare these days. What she achieved at Capricorn Caves was amazing and her contribution to tourism in the Southern Great Barrier Reef and Queensland more generally is I believe very under-rated because she was so self-effacing and humble.  I had the great pleasure to work with Ann over the last 20 years and very honoured to call her a friend, she was a true lady in all senses of the word…this world can be very unfair at times…..she deserved a much longer time to really enjoy her life’s work and family, she will be sorely missed but long remembered.”

In her time at Capricorn Caves, Ann has been recognised for the following significant awards:

  • Telstra Business Award- less than 6 employees- 1994
  • Queensland Tourism Awards- Significant Tourist Attraction 1995
  • Queensland Tourism Awards- Chairman’s Award for Excellence 2003
  • Queensland Tourism Awards- Adventure Tourism 2005
  • Queensland Tourism Awards- Ecotourism 2008, 2009
  • Queensland Tourism Awards- Tourist Attraction 2014 (Bronze at National Awards)
  • Runner Up QTIC Award for Innovation 2017

In June 1988, an article appeared in the Courier Mail that Batman was selling his caves in Rockhampton.  This was the year Brisbane hosted the World Expo and the people of Queensland were looking for new adventures.  The advertorial caught the attention of a young Augusteyn family.  Ann, a high school history teacher and her husband Ken, a plumber, seeking a new challenge packed their whole world up into a car and drove north for Rockhampton to take over the only privately owned show caves on freehold land in Australia. Ann and Ken knew nothing about tourism and even less about caves, but they had energy, determination and with Ken’s skill set across all trades they had what it took to make a mark on the industry.

The local community was initially apprehensive that someone from the city had bought the caves and wondered what the future was for Olsen’s Caves but that did not deter Ann and her family.  They were determined to execute a plan to make the caves a premier tourist attraction.  Ken began working on the infrastructure of the property while Ann took on everything else.  She did the marketing, ticket sales, cleaning and to top that off was the sole tour guide.

For the next 20 years, they focussed on the development of the property.  Their business plan was to generate enough income to reinvest in maintenance, new facilities, conservation and sharing the natural wonder with the world.

These achievements had made Ken and Ann very proud, however nothing more so than making Capricorn Caves wheelchair accessible.  In 1992, carrying in 6 tonne of timber and 3 tonne of steel, they worked to minimise impact on the caves and maximise views for visitors, becoming the most accessible cave in Australia.  Ken’s health declined after years of hard work and in March 2008 was pushed up that ramp that he had constructed to attend his son John’s wedding in the Cathedral Cave.  10 days later he passed away leaving behind a remarkable legacy and a tourist operation completely in the hands of Ann.

From this point, Ann never took a backward step, she became a community leader and well respected within the local tourism industry, developing Capricorn Caves into one of Queensland’s Hero Experiences and a Best of Queensland Experience.

A couple of years ago, Ann stepped away from daily operations and focussed on special projects like writing grant submissions and Tourism awards.  She also has a focus on mentoring the younger staff, highlighted by General Manager, Amanda Hinton becoming a Young Tourism Leader.

Embracing digital technology and collaborating with scientific bodies like the Queensland Museum, Ann broke new ground in Tourism and for 30 years led the way in product development and inspiration to those around her with her ability to adapt in such a quickly changing world.


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Statement distributed by Capricorn Enterprise on Saturday 13th October 2018

Much loved Tourism Pioneer Ann Augusteyn, owner of the Capricorn Caves north of Rockhampton has passed away suddenly whilst travelling overseas with her son Robert.

Ann’s three children John, Helen and Robert and her five grandchildren and extended family are deeply shocked and saddened by the news and all staff of Capricorn Caves were notified in person at 4pm today.

Holidaying in Africa, Ann and Robert had arrived in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya to enjoy a Safari Tour en-route to the International SKAL Conference to be held from the 17th to the 21st October in Mombasa, Kenya, about 500km away.

Ann died peacefully in her sleep on the 12th October.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of Ann’s husband Ken Augusteyn and this year marked their 30th Anniversary of owning the Capricorn Caves.

Ann Augusteyn was a tourism pioneer, having purchased Capricorn Caves in 1988 with her husband Ken.  Together they grew their business into a multi award winning State and National tourism attraction.

Ann was passionate about the environment, education, travel and has left her mark on many people far and wide.

Capricorn Enterprise chief executive officer Mary Carroll said “our tourism industry is in absolute shock and Ann was highly respected as an industry leader.”

“Our hearts go out to Ann’s beautiful family, her staff and her colleagues” she said.

“Capricorn Caves General Manager Amanda Hinton is very capably running the business and her colleagues have rallied around her to assist however possible” she said.

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