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A ‘Foxy’ move: From school drop out to Doctor of Letters

Charles Darwin University 2 mins read
Charles Darwin University

John ‘Foxy’ Robinson AO has come a long way from leaving school at 13, to now receiving an honorary doctorate from Charles Darwin University (CDU). 

The University will bestow an honorary doctorate on the renowned Territorian for his entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and in recognitions of his contribution to the NT’s tourism and hospitality sectors. 

He will be receiving the honorary doctorate on April 24 alongside hundreds of graduates at the CDU graduations. 

Mr Robinson’s left his native New South Wales to see adventure, which he found in the Territory where he could flex his entrepreneurial skills and helped establish the Territory’s tourism and hospitality sectors that we have today. 

Mr Robinson arrived in the Northern Territory in the late 1960s, working in the meat industry until its decline in the early 1980s. He then worked at the Katherine Swimming pool, where his managerial skills flourished and later sparked an interest in tourism and hospitality. 

He entered the industry by acquiring and transforming struggling businesses including the Redgum Caravan Park, Knotts Crossing Resort, and the Adelaide River Pub. He extensive list of endeavours includes the purchase of Darwin’s Palms Resort, the construction of Darwin Airport Resort and Darwin Airport Inn, developing the former Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre, and the Bladin Accommodation Village. 

In recent years he built the Rydges Palmerston and in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic opened the Rydges Gold Coast Airport.

Mr Robinson’s philanthropic efforts including providing furniture to communities affected by Cyclone Lam in 2015, helping a local girl born with Microphthalmia to receive a prosthetic eye, hosting the annual Biggest Morning Tea for the Cancer Council of the Northern Territory, and supporting the Humpty Dumpty Foundation.

Mr Robinson said it was an honour to receive the recognition from the University, and explained he was drawn to the challenges and adventures of the tourism and hospitality industries. 

“Tourism is a very challenging business to be in. It’s a tough gig and hard to survive. You must work hard, work to what’s around you and be able to read the movements of the industry,” he said. 

“You can’t take your foot off the pedal, or you’ll get left behind. In hospitality, I was taken by the people you meet from all walks of life.” 

Mr Robinson said his philanthropic endeavours stemmed from his constant belief in extending a helping hand to those in need.

“My theory is if you’ve got the ability to make a dollar, never be afraid to share it with those less fortunate,” he said. 

The University also awarded Honorary Doctors of Letters to businessman and conservationist Peter Chistophersen, historian Peter Forrest, educator and historian Derek Pugh OAM, and cultural advocate Angelica Poulos OAM.

The University also awarded the title of Emeritus Professor to Dr Sandra Dunn.

Contact details:

Raphaella Saroukos she/her
Research Communications Officer
Marketing, Media & Communications
Larrakia Country
T: +61 8 8946 6721


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