Our History

A history of pioneering spirit and award-winning ways

Original Pykes Tours vehicle

AAT Kings’ story began in 1912 when the Pyke family pioneered coach touring in Australia. Starting with self-drive car-hire in 7 seater vehicles in Sydney, we expanded to guided sightseeing tours. By the 1960s, the company, then known as AAT, had become Sydney’s largest tour operator and in the 1980s we teamed up with pioneering adventurer Bill King’s Northern Safaris, which ultimately led to the creation of what we know today as AAT Kings.

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1912 Pyke family, led by Colonel Pyke began the first daily route from Sydney to Blue Mountains.  
1920s Due to the success of this daily Blue Mountains venture, the Government intervened and the first bus tour operator license (Touring Vehicle 001) was assigned – this license is still held by AAT Kings.
1920s  Pyke family expanded, offering guided tours to Katoomba and Jenolan Caves in seven seater cars.
1935 Pykes introduced 14 seater coaches to Katoomba & Jenolan Caves tours.
1945 Grenda’s Bus service founded in October when George Grenda purchased four routes from Shaves Bus services in Dandenong.
1967 Bill King launched Bill King’s Northern Safaris.
1973 Grenda’s Bus service purchased Blue Line Tourist Coaches Sydney.
1975 AAT Coachlines was formed in July by a TAA & Mayne Nickless joint venture with the purchase and amalgamation of Pykes Tours, Grenda's Melbourne coach operations & Grenda’s Blue Line Tourist Coaches Sydney.
1980 AAT Coachlines purchased Bill King's Northern Safaris in December & tours were operated as Bill King’s Australian Adventure Tours.
1983 AAT Coachlines was purchased by Mayer Page and Geoff McGeary, proprietors of Australian Pacific Touring (APT).
1984 AAT Kings was formed with amalgamation of Grand Central Tours, Bill King’s Australian Adventure Tours & AAT Coachlines (formed in 1975).
1985 Bill King parted ways with Page & McGeary in September.
1993 AAT & APT split in June, with Page taking control of AAT Kings and McGeary Australian Pacific Touring.
1997 AAT Kings was purchased by The Travel Corporation.
1999 AAT Kings began operations in New Zealand.
2012 AAT Kings purchased APT’s Day Tours & Short Breaks.
2013 AAT Kings in October undergoes significant rebranding, launching new focus and tagline “Bringing Australia & New Zealand to life”.
2014 (Aug)

AAT Kings announced strategic investment in Down Under Tours, Cairns, opening a significant footprint in northern Queensland.

2014 (Nov)

Off the back of a launch of first-of-their-kind glass roof coaches in Sydney, AAT Kings launches double decker ‘Sydney Sightseeing’ product in Sydney, the vehicles can cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge due to an innovative see-through roof.