Certificate III Outdoor Recreation

Tasman Peninsula Walk

Two weeks ago, the ‘Nunatak’ Adventure Tour Guiding students were out and about for three days following the Tasman Peninsula Circuit along bush tracks, long stretches of board walks and steep, slippery wet eucalyptus banks.

This was our final bushwalking trip within the comfort of the Adventure Tour Guiding program before heading into the summer season as qualified guides. Some students had already been assessed on previous trips and could happily tag along as ‘customers’ while others were bearing the full load of guiding, catering and interpreting.  The scenery was spectacular, food was palatable and the weather was kind.

Managing the group whilst navigating unknown terrain proved a great challenge for the up-and-coming guides who all did their best to provide a great walking experience, whilst keeping everyone safe, happy, hydrated and fuelled across long days of walking.

After an easy first day heading inland from Fortescue Bay along the Cape Pillar Track we based ourselves at the Wughalee Falls campground for two nights.  We headed out on the 17 km return trip to Cape Pillar’s stunning cliffs overlooking Tasman Island on Day 2, and braved the steep ascent over Mount Fortescue on Day 3.  By this stage, the final track to Cape Hauy was just a hop, skip and jump.  By the end of it all everyone was relieved to have made it back to the bus at Fortescue Bay as the day was slipping away rapidly.

Highlights included a look-behind-the–scenes of Tas Walking Co.’s brand-new hut along the Cape Pillar Track, the enchanting rainforest around Mount Fortescue and, of course, the vast expanse of ocean crashing into Australia’s highest sea cliffs.  Other key learning points from the last trip of the year included:

  • As a guide, be caring and compassionate!  Check in with individual group members to make sure everyone is in good spirits!
  • $500 to walk the Three Capes Track is well worth the investment; and if you want to get pampered, spend some extra on the Tas Walking Co’s experience!
  • Just because it’s raining and freezing doesn’t mean you have to put on extra layers! (Look after yourself, Rhianna!)
  • Cooking on camp stoves always takes longer than estimated!
  • Snakes and spiders are much less frightening and dangerous than their reputation!
  • You can disguise fake-meat in a Bolognese and no one will notice!
  • Walking meditations are a great way to quieten the group and connect people to their surroundings. (Nicely done, Tristan!)

Freycinet Circuit – Team Tombolo

Two weeks, Team Tombolo [Adventure Tour Guiding students] embarked on their second adventure to Freycinet National Park, the homeland of the Toorernomairremener clan.  The group was blessed with beautiful Spring weather and had an amazing time soaking up another beautiful part of Tasmania.

The two teams split off to walk the Freycinet Peninsula, and students were given the opportunity to guide their groups around sections of the 30km Circuit. It was awesome to see the students bring their own true personality into their ‘Guiding’.  The guides experimented with new group activities, supported individuals over difficult terrain, cooked up amazing meals on the MSR stoves, and really sunk into their position as group leaders.  It’s quite astounding to think about how far the class has come since the beginning of the course.  Many of us agreed that, for the first time, it really felt like we were guests on a guided tour.

Our wonderful teacher, Alex Hale, joined us for our trip to Freycinet.  Having spent some time working as a guide in the area, Alex was an endless source of knowledge of us all.  The group had a lot of fun identifying bird calls, spotting wildlife and combing the beach for washed up ocean creatures.  It was also really cool to spot some beautiful orchids poke up from the earth, and to see the vegetation shift from coastal, to dry woodland, to wet forest, to alpine species.

Students were also allocated topics on the area and shared stories and facts about some of the wonderful wildlife found on the East Coast.  We learnt about the fascinating history of the Thylacine and some amazing coastal birds, the Short-tailed Shearwater and the Little Penguin.  We also learnt about the snakes of Tasmania, the evolution of dragonflies and the story of the whales that visit our island.

For the group, some other highlights from the trip included a brisk dip in the waves at Wineglass Bay, reaching the summit of Mt Freycinet, soaking up the incredible views over the Peninsula, practicing midnight tarp maintenance and a friendly encounter with an Australian Fur Seal.

Returning somewhere for a second time can sometimes produce a very different experience.  You tend to tune into the particular subtleties about a place, and I think a vast majority of the group has left Freycinet National Park with a very special sense of connection.

All round, it was a great trip with some great friends.  Big thanks to the amazing teachers at TasTAFE and an incredible group of classmates.

Walls of Jerusalem Winter Trip

The ‘Nunatak’ Adventure Tour Guiding group spent three glorious days in the Walls of Jerusalem late last month.  After the long drive from Hobart, we headed up the hill and were delighted to see some small patches of snow at Trappers Hut.  The snow started to be more prominent once we reached the top of the plateau.

We got to our campsite at Wild Dog Creek just before dark and saw to our delight that the tent platforms were completely covered waist deep in snow.  We spent over an hour shovelling the platforms so we could get our tents up, while the caterers prepared our meals.  We had a scrumptious dinner, then hit the sack early.

The next day we started building a snow cave.  All hands were on deck for that mission and we had ‘shovelers and padders’ building it for hours before we decided it was tall enough.  We then walked up to Damascus Gate and into the central Walls area itself.  We were stunned by how scenic the area was with frozen lakes, snow-covered mountains and stands of ancient Pencil Pines.  We experienced some fantastic Interpretation about alpine vegetation, conifers, crayfish/mountain shrimp and lizards by student’s Kate, Tim, Maddie and Katri.

We got back to camp in the early afternoon so the excavation of the ice cave could begin.  A couple of students slept in the cave overnight and reported that it was very cosy, with no condensation at all.  We had a delicious breakfast the next morning, followed by a quick pack up.

In conclusion, our group had a truly epic trip with beautiful scenery, tough walking conditions with slippery ice and thick snow, a cool ice cave we built ourselves and the experience of everything freezing over.  Thank you to our Instructor’s Sue Beaumont and Ashley Kestle.

Images:  Katri Werner

Kayaking

The first day of week two kayaking for the Nunatak group began at Nutgrove Bay.  This week we had two nominated students each day take on the role as guides.  The week was also focused on our skills in interpreting weather.  The well-known ‘Fish and Chipper’ trip was our plan for the day.  After getting on the water aided by a breeze, we had the quick trip to Constitution Dock, though experienced strong gusts on the trip back, while practicing our towing.

Day two was a calmer morning at Cornelian Bay.  We paddled down the Derwent along the Domain Highway and found shelter in coves along the way from the winds.  As a group we paddled under the Tasman Bridge and admired the scenery of Hobart and surrounds.  A lunch break again in Constitution Dock gave us shelter from the winds and we practiced some strokes in the calmer waters. We paddled through familiar waters down to Nutgrove Bay to conclude or day.

By Day three, the winds had eased further and we departed from Tinderbox Reserve and paddled north along the coastline towards Blackmans Bay. The scenery was superb with views of Dennes Point on Bruny Island.  As the location was unfamiliar to most, it a good experience to kayak in less known waters. We ended our day with the assistance in performing our first surf landings successfully.

Our final day of the week saw us have our most glorious weather yet.  Starting from Taroona Beach we all gathered up together in the water looking up to the Shot Tower where our guides provided some background information.  The gentle winds and seas helped make it an enjoyable experience for everyone as we also soaked in the spectacular Alum Cliffs.  Sitting outside of Kingston Beach we had spectacular views to kunanyi/Mt Wellington as we all sat and enjoyed the calm waters and mountain views.  The group then individually performed their own surf landing on Kingston Beach for a quick-lunch break, and in no time we were back on the water and kayaking past a few sea caves.  Before landing once again at Blackmans Bay, we all practiced our T rescues in the chilly water. We had yet another surf landing to end the day and some took the opportunity to practice their paddle float rescues.

A big thanks to Tom and Gemma for their time throughout the week.

Freycinet – Tombolo Group

With our long-awaited journey along the Overland Track cancelled due to the wild westerly weather and waist deep snow, Team Tombolo headed out to the (mostly) sheltered Freycinet Peninsula for four days to practice guiding and interpretation in the field.  On day two, we climbed over Mount Graham and across the saddle in extremely windy conditions, and got to experience first-hand what we have learnt in our unit: Interpreting Weather Conditions in the Field.  We were all feeling pretty glad not to be battling through blizzard conditions at Pelion Gap!

Each of us had a chance to lead our group of student-guests, practicing the art of the briefing, keeping track of group morale, and learning about the importance of the mid-afternoon coffee break.  The weather really put on a show for us, and what a vantage point to see it sweeping across Great Oyster Bay and out to sea!  Amidst all the wind and rain, we learnt some really valuable lessons from our teaching leaders – Tom Keith and Gemma Gooley.  It’s always so valuable to be in the field with leaders with so much experience, leading guests through these wild places!

As well as being tasked with leading the group, each of us had to present a series of situational interpretation in the field.  We learnt about the hardy drought-resistant and competitive coastal flora, fire-sensitive pine trees, seals, and LOTS of whales!  It was so much fun to join in the group activities and a really great way to break up the walking.  Everyone really rose to the challenge and there were some great lessons learnt in the art of interpretation!

After a few weeks in the classroom ticking off assessment after assessment, it was really great to get back out on track!  We were able to solidify all that theory we studied with real (and challenging!) experiences in the field!  From the in-field navigation, to seeing massive seams of Quartz in the Devonian Granite, and of course experiencing first-hand the wind-funneling effect in the Mount Graham/Freycinet Saddle.  Watching everyone stretch those guiding and interpretation muscles, and even stepping into the roles ourselves, we could really see how far we’ve come over the last 8 months!  Not long now and we’ll be putting this all into practise with real guests!!

Freycinet Bushwalk

“MSR up too high, not up high enough?  Do we have the portion sizes right?  Careful not to burn the sauce!  When is the water ever going to boil?  I hope everyone’s had enough to drink.  We definitely didn’t have any dietary requirements in this group, right?  I need to put my tent up. Careful, don’t burn the sauce.  Man, my co-guide had my back today!  Why did the MSR just go out?  I really messed up that interpretation, I wonder if Tom (our teacher) noticed?  This ground is hard, why didn’t I bring a piece of foam to kneel on?  Don’t burn the sauce!”

As you prepare entrée and the main for the night you have a million different thoughts running through your mind, almost all of them centred on the hope that you are keeping everyone happy and faking it enough to show you’ve learned something during the last 6 months of the TasTAFE Adventure Guiding Course.

With waist-deep snow on Pelion Plains our original trip to the Overland Track was abandoned and our contingency of the Freycinet Peninsula actioned. Two options in virtual polar opposites from each other, but a sound contingency plan at this time of year, given Tassie’s notoriously predictable unpredictable August weather. Despite the disappointment (and perhaps some relief) of missing our chance at the Overland Track, we headed off for 4 days at the Peninsula with plenty less warmies and plenty more water. Mild temperatures and light winds meant shorts were the order of the trip as we made our way around the Peninsula.  We took in the vistas of Mt Freycinet, Davonian Granite, Schouten Island, and practiced our flora and fauna identification.

This was the first opportunity in the course for students to practice their interpretation topics. Situational interps led by students were a particular highlight. Learning about the endemic Tasmanian Froglet as it called from across Hazards Lagoon, or the Tasmanian sub-species of the Wedge-Tailed Eagle as they soared above Mt Graham and beyond the clouds, or, that Oyster Catchers don’t actually eat oysters as we watched them frolic in the shallows in pairs, made for a far more memorable learning experience than those obtained from within four walls.

Off track navigation to peaks at the southern end of the Peninsula provided student guides with an additional challenge, but the scrub scratches were worth it with a lunch-time view over Schouten Island.  As we watched the sun set over water on our final night we contemplated two things, almost simultaneously.  How lucky are we to do a course like this in a place like this; and, damn, I can’t wait for the last 2 months of this course, and the work associated with it, to be over.

Photo Credits:  Ollie Bryant

Adventure Tour Guiding : Sea Kayaking

The Nunatak Adventure Tour Guiding students who chose sea kayaking as their specialisation skill cluster, spent their first week learning basic paddling skills, deep water rescue techniques and how to interpret weather.

Our group of nine students and two teachers – Tom Keith, from Roaring 40ᴼS Kayaking and Gemma Gooley spent the first day in the classroom, then headed down to Short Beach in Sandy Bay for their first paddle.  After a quick briefing, the group paddled from Short Beach to the Hobart Waterfront and back.  With the wind picking up, there was also time for a quick skills session before heading back to TasTAFE.

The next day was spent at the Clarence Aquatic Centre, where the group had the chance to learn and practice a variety of vital rescue techniques, including the wet-exit; self-rescue with the aid of a paddle float and how to assist others back into their kayak from the water.

Unfortunately, the final day of class for the week was cancelled due to the extreme weather and flooding in Hobart, but the short introduction to Sea Kayaking Guiding left the class eagerly awaiting their next session on the water.

Thank you to our wonderful teachers and guides for the day!