Our Team

If there’s one thing that our customers always praise us for, it’s the hard work, leadership and understanding of our naturalist guides. Our guides are willing to help, nothing is too much trouble, and they’ve always got a good story to tell!

Tom Grove

Managing Director 

Tom Grove is managing director and part owner with his wife, Sylvia, of Coates Wildlife Tours based in Booragoon Perth .  He was born in Queensland and grew up in England and Australia.
Tom travelled extensively as a child.  His Father worked for the United Nations in West Africa and at the age of 11, Tom was sent to England to be educated under the watchful eye his Aunt, who was a teacher with a great interest in geology and history. Her knowledge and enthusiasm was passed on to Tom during his time in England.
In 1996 after 24 years in the banking industry, Tom wanted a change. He decided to focus his interests by taking on Coates Wildlife Tours, (founded by well known naturalist Kevin Coate).
This provided a wonderful opportunity for Tom to work in an area for which he had special interest.  Using his previous skills & knowledge together with wife Sylvia’s extensive experience in the travel industry, they have worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to build on the foundation of Kevin Coate’s vision. They have continued to develop the company in offering innovative quality natural history tours to an increasingly larger range of destinations in Australia and overseas. As a result, Coates Wildlife Tours is today still considered a leader in its field in Western Australia.
Tom has a caring and affable nature, which is well suited to the industry. He has always been interested in people and enjoys working in the public domain.
Although Tom sees his role primarily in administration and business development, he has a hands-on approach and is often found on tour assisting naturalist tour leaders/guides on many long-range tours.
Tom believes that in addition to offering appealing and unusual tours to out of the way destinations  they need to be environmentally friendly, safe, comfortable, and informative. This is the ethos behind all the tours he develops.

Sylvia Grove


Sylvia along with her husband Tom have owned Coates Wildlife Tours for the past 20 years. Prior to owning Coates Sylvia worked as a travel agent. Sylvia has a great love of the outback and loves to travel out on tour whenever she can.

Patrick Bates

Operations Manager

Patrick joined Coates in the beginning of 2016 as Operations Manager. Although his job mostly keeps him in the office he loves to get out on the road and see the outback. Patrick has a keen interest in all nature and loves to photograph the unique plants and wildlife that Australia has to offer.

David (Red) Morrell


Red farmed in Pingrup for 40 years growing a variety of grains and also had merino sheep for wool. He has always had an interest in birds and the natural bush from childhood, when he used to spend time in the hills around Pinjarra where the family originally farmed. He built large bird cages on the farm and bred birds for a hobby, and revegetated a lot of his farm using both methods of planting of seedlings and direct seeding using seed that he collected from the remnant bush on the property. He has worked as a driver, cook and fix-all for Coates Wildlife Tours since 2003.

Martin Curtis


Martin started guiding as a teenager in the UK. After Immigrating to Australia with his wife where they traveled and lived extensively in the bush he took a holiday to New Zealand and fell in love. Martin in the past has come back to Australia to visit and lead tours with his brother Rick but now only leads Coates annual tour to the South Island of New Zealand with his brother Rick. Martin has an excellent knowledge of all things nature. Martin is also a keen mountaineer having climbed many of the worlds tallest peak. Martin is also a singer/songwriter/bush poet who regularly tours.

Rick Curtis

Naturalist Guide

Rick has been a member of the Coates team for 17 years and has led camping and accommodated tours in Australia and overseas. He has had a passion for the natural world since he was a teenager and loves to share his interests with Coates customers be it birds, plants, reptiles or whatever presents itself. Getting into the 'outback' on a star filled night around a campfire with a group of like-minded people is always a pleasure and overseas trips give an experience of less familiar wildlife and culture.

Wayne Merritt

Naturalist Guide

Wayne Merritt is an enthusiastic observer of nature, focusing on Western Australian wildflowers and wildlife. He and partner Louise Little regularly travel, noting and photographing species and habitat. This passion developed in youth with travels to local South West Australian bushland with his parents.
He is member: WA Native Orchid Study & Conservation Group, and served on the Executive of the Conservation Council of Western Australia; Western Australian Naturalists Club; Wildflower Society of Western Australia; and Birdlife Australia.
He has led organised field trips to locate and observe of South West Australian terrestrial orchids and native birds in their natural habitats throughout Australia.
The distinctive white spider orchid, subspecies caladenia longicauda merrittii, ‘Merritt’s White Spider Orchid’, was named after Wayne in recognition of his commitment to orchid study and conservation in Western Australia.

Gane Doyle


Gane was lucky enough to be brought up in a family where his dad loved the environment and in particular reptiles.  As a teenager Gane belonged to the Naturalist Club and with his family spent his holidays exploring this fantastic country of ours. In recent years his family has opened the West Australian Reptile Park in the Swan Valley where Gane is currently working in addition to his guiding with Coates.  Gane enjoys educating people about our environment and our native animals. Game is also involved with the Scout Association for over the past 20 years. Gane's other great passion is cars and as a holden man is the proud owner of a 1974 HJ Kingswood.

Diana Papenfus

Naturalist Guide

Diana grew up in the hills east of Perth and was inspired by nature from a very early age. Following a career in nursing and midwifery she underwent a career change, obtained a Bachelors degree in Wildlife and Conservation and became a park ranger in South Australia. Subsequently Diana worked in the area of threatened flora survey across the south west of Western Australia and private property nature conservation. Diana is a long time member of the WA Naturalists’ Club and has been guiding with Coates since 2016

Mike Gregson

Naturalist Guide

Mike gained his love of Natural History, and especially wildflowers, through studies of biology at UWA and through many years’ membership of the WA Naturalists’ Club.  After retiring from teaching, he has volunteered with Cottesloe Coastcare Association, served as coordinator of the Young Naturalists’ group and has worked for several years as a wildflower guide with Coates Wildlife Tours.

Kevin (KP) Piper


After KP retired from a career in finance he decided to take up work his passion of the outdoors. KP has a great love for the sea kayaking and also has a keen interest in wildflowers and birds. KP has been guiding with Coates for the past 9 years.

Alan Brumley


Alan has been a Coates guide for a four years. Alan has a great knowledge of the outback and is a great camp cook. Before working for Coates Alan used to guide in the north of WA and has a great knowledge of the Kimberley.

Ray Dickson

Naturalist Guide

Ray has lived in Australia since 1974 after immigrating from Ireland. Ray got his love for the Australian outback and it's flora and fauna from five years of work in the Pilbara, followed by work with a wide range of animals in Perth Zoo and the NT Wildlife Park. Ray has been working as a Tour Guide with Coates since 2000 and loves providing passengers with the opportunity to experience the endless variety of the Australian landscape.

Mary Neilson

Junior Operations Assistant
Mary grew up in Perth where she developed a strong love of wildlife and nature. Her childhood was filled with camping, hiking, snorkelling and travelling, and she dreamed of becoming a Zoologist, a Marine Biologist, a Veterinarian and a Zoo Keeper (she could never make up her mind).
This took her to the University of Western Australia where she studied Zoology and Marine Science. Currently she is finishing a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing, and come 2018 will begin a Masters in Wildlife Health and Conservation at Murdoch University.
Mary started at Coates in August 2017 looking to get some work experience in the field, however she soon became a valued member of the team and plans on working with Coates for many years to come!