GAPDL Corporate Staff


Darryl Branthwaite

Chief Executive Officer

Darryl, and his wife Jenny, arrived in Tannum Sands in 1982 from Southland in New Zealand, and have called Tannum Sands home since. Then raising their two boys plus being very heavily involved in the community.

Being franchisee of the Caltex at Benaraby for over 22 years, has enabled Darryl to play a very big role in the community, as a founding member of the Boyne Tannum HookUp, a member of the BTABC, and also plays an active role in the running of BAM. 

He also has been writing the fishing column each week for the past 17or so years in the Gladstone Observer, plus also has an integral role with the regional Tourism Awards.

As a recipient of the Terry George Memorial Award for Community Leadership, and also a Volunteer Manager award, Darryl certainly has the ongoing focus of the community at heart.

Having been on the board of the GAPDL for approximately 22 years, Darryl’s knowledge of this organisation, coupled with his passion for the region, is helping to make this region more a region of choice with liveability, employment, recreation and a sense of community.

Darryl is also the chair of the Destination Tourism Development Working Group which acts as a vehicle to make things happen within our region for many years to come.

Karen Sweeney

Tourism and Business Development Manager

Karen is responsible for Tourism and Business Development for the Gladstone Region and Tourism for the Banana Shire including destination marketing, brand and product development. A Gladstone Region native with extensive business, corporate and professional contacts throughout the Region who knows and understands the challenges, opportunities and achievements of the tourism business industry within our larger region and expectations for the future.

Karen is dedicated to developing small to medium businesses in the Gladstone Region through providing mentoring, information and referrals in areas like business management, financial management, business planning, marketing, networking and other general business advice.

Karen has previously owned and successfully operated her own award winning small business in Gladstone Region for well over 20 years.


Patricia Rizzato

Communications, Media and Marketing Officer

Patricia completed a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) at USC in 2011 and has continued to develop her Marketing skills through her internship and marketing roles.  Patricia’s role with GAPDL is to develop and implement a Gladstone Region Promotions and Marketing Master Plan; aimed at achieving an increase and tangible, measurable improvement in business attraction opportunities, tourism profile and community pride throughout the region. 

She will also continually promote the positive aspects of the Gladstone Region and build strategies to attract external media coverage wherever possible and exposure of investment opportunities. 

Patricia develops, implements and promotes both internal and external projects, programs, events and services focused on GAPDL’s Vision and Aims.


Brooke Thomassen

Digital Media & Events Officer

Brooke is responsible for monitoring and updating the Gladstone Region Website, all Social Media accounts (including Facebook, TwitterInstagram and YouTube) and can assist with all enquiries relating to the member console and Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) and is the primary point of contact for listing events on this website.

In addition to managing GAPDL’s digital world, Brooke also designs all of GAPDL’s collateral, including brochures, guides, maps, advertisements and features for both digital and print media.

As the Events officer for GAPDL, Brooke organises and facilitates all GAPDL Business Luncheon’s and Networking Events, so please contact her for more information regarding any upcoming events facilitated by GAPDL. 

In 2012 Brooke completed her Certificate 3 in Business Administration and is currently undertaking further study through CQU.


Jessica Wolski

Membership Liaison Officer

Jessica has recently joined the GAPDL team as the Membership and Client Services Officer. Jessica’s key responsibility is to build strong working relationships and provide a high standard of service and value to our current and prospective members and partners. 

Along with a professional, friendly, responsive and enthusiastic personality, Jessica is your main point of contact for any membership enquiries including new applications, renewals, client services and member benefits such as Membership renewals, Letters of Support, Discounted Yaralla Lifestyle Packages and Corporate Qantas Club Memberships.

Jessica is currently studying a Bachelor in Professional Communications with a Major in Marketing at CQU. She has had extensive roots within the not-for-profit business and administration sector, along with a Certificate IV in Community Services Work and a Diploma in Management.


Kaihla Dennis

Finance Officer

Having previously worked for not-for-profit, government organisation and small business, Kaihla has developed a broad knowledge of internal financial procedures and accounts management.  Kaihla is an Associate Member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, has attained a Diploma of Business in 2013, Certificate IV in Bookkeeping in 2014 and is continuing her accounting studies in 2015.

Undertaking the finance officer role within GAPDL, Kaihla manages all accounts payable, receivable, financial reporting, reconciliations and is the point of contact for all financial enquiries.


Susan Gaerth

Administration Support Trainee

Susan has gained experience in many varied industries over the years, but is enjoying the opportunity to work on the promotion and development of the Gladstone Region with GAPDL.

In her role, Susan provides administrative support to the Chief Executive Officer, Senior Operations Team and the Finance Officer and is also the point of contact for the GAPDL Board of Directors, Yaralla Lifestyle Package and all Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) applications and enquiries.

Working closely with our Visitor Information Centre, Susan also offers support for the Tourism and Information Services officer and the Volunteer Ambassadors