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A coffee with…

Angie McHugh Parry Beach Breaks

Born and raised in the small town of Gisborne on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Angie became accustomed to the quieter, surf village lifestyle that would become her home ground thousands of kilometres away on beautiful Parry Beach.  We sat down with Angie to hear her story.

Tell us about your past

I was supposed to go to Auckland to study journalism but decided at the last minute not to.  I had met a surfer which, at my young age, was the only attribute I thought a man needed and followed him to Australia to work in an abattoir in country Victoria.  Unsurprisingly this didn’t last (although I did make it a year!).  I returned home and decided to pursue studies and a career in Radiography. The motivation behind this was more based on having a reliable source of good income for the future.  I started working in the ER at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.  It has one of the largest trauma units in New Zealand – the fast pace and high intensity of the work was stimulating. It allowed me to work creatively to get the best x-ray image with the least amount of radiation exposure to the patient. It became a craft of which I was very proud.

After working there for around 4 years I decided to look further afield. Lots of my friends in the same industry had gone to Ireland to do locum work and I was going to follow suit.  But the GFC happened and the Irish economy crashed.  I took the opportunity instead to do locum work around Australia. This afforded me the ability to travel, earning a decent income while having my accommodation provided by the various hospitals and clinics where I was employed. I was exposed to people from all demographics and have many interesting stories to tell.

After 11 years of travel my work found me being placed in Albany.  There, on the X-ray table, I found the true love of my life in Darren, who has all the attributes a man needs. My itchy feet was subsiding and Denmark appealed to me as a home away from home – retaining those same attributes of where I had grown up.

Why the shift in career?

After many years of work, the radiography industry developed around me.  That meant that things became more computerised and business more privatised. Slowly the ability to act autonomously was being removed and the thought and effort to create the result was being restricted.  I felt stifled in not being able to express my creativity and no longer felt associated to the profession.

Darren always had big dreams of developing the property at Parry’s and while I was happy to support him in his endeavours we didn’t necessarily share the same vision. Making the decision to stop working was a difficult one.  I put myself under pressure, to stick at something that was considered a good job, and not give up on a career into which I had invested so much of myself. Eventually my happiness won out and I gave up my work.

Tell us about the process of starting Parry Beach Breaks

It has been a massive learning curve. As both Darren and I were new to the industry it was easy to get overwhelmed along the way and be swayed by mentors and ‘experts’.  We have received both good advice and bad, and have learnt when we need to flex our voice and when to listen.  For example with our earlier website development, we incorrectly assumed that it would be created with little input, however soon learned that this created a very basic product which wasn’t to our standards. 

I called upon my past experience of arriving at accommodation and remember the anxiety of not knowing what you were going to get.  With the goal of wanting to create a space that eased that anxiety and that you never wanted to leave. Using my creativity to design and decorate the units was exciting and daunting as you are opening yourself up to criticism in a way that I hadn’t been exposed as yet.

I have high expectations and this can make me hard to please but it results in a quality product. Learning to work with a partner rather than employer has taught me how to be more diplomatic

Frustrations in the industry

Like my previous profession I have found the drive toward using bigger search engines and accommodation wholesale sites have removed some of the personability away from what we do.  Your success almost hinges on having to use certain websites and agencies, but the service they provide doesn’t fit the atmosphere of Denmark and its surrounds and what we are trying to offer.

What is your future focus?

From a business management side I want to focus on personal training rather than relying on outsiders to get jobs done.  I now know how to drive harder bargains and what to look for in service providers. This will allow me to continue to use mentors and experts in the industry but filter the information better to suit our needs.

From a business side we are underway in expanding to another two units that will be unique in what they have to offer. The long term vision is to continue to grow Parry Beach Breaks, while still respecting and showcasing its beautiful natural environment. 

WA’s tourism is in so many ways still in its infancy and we have a lot to learn from countries that have been geared towards the market for longer. 

We don’t want to allow Parry Beach Breaks to stagnate and only ever be accommodation – we hope it will change and grow with us.

What have you learnt in this process?

It’s only you that truly knows your business, so when seeking advice remember to individualise it to your situation before implementing. 

Always trust your own gut and be true to yourself.


88 Astartea Glade, Parryville WA 6333


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