Certificate III Outdoor Recreation

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!

Adventure Tour Guiding : Mountain Biking

Both of our Adventure Tour Guiding groups are currently focusing on either our Sea Kayaking or Cycling skills clusters.  All students experience both activities for a day early in our course and then advise our preferred skills cluster.

Last month, the ‘Nunatak’ Adventure Tour Guiding students got to try out our chosen skill of mountain biking.  Over the course of the week we covered basic bike maintenance, skills on-and-off road, and practiced leading a group on the trails.  On the first day the students spent the morning in the classroom covering a basic introduction to bikes, gear, safety and maintenance.  That afternoon we had the chance to get hands on with the bikes, practicing skills such as; maintaining the group set, changing a tyre and fitting a bike to the rider.

Day two saw a much more practical lesson with students taking the bikes up to the Queens Domain.  The morning session covered basic riding skills such as braking, un-weighting both the front and rear tyres, track stands and body positions for uphill, flat and downhill tracks.  The afternoon saw the students able to practice their newly learnt skills on the recently completed trails up at the Domain, where we also had a chance to trial leading a group on the bikes.

With bad weather closing in, the plan for day three was revised, changing the itinerary from exploring the pipeline track on Mt Wellington (Kunanyi) to making the journey over to the Eastern Shore and trying our luck at the newly built Risdon Vale Pump Track and cross-country circuit.  Despite the rain, we had a great time practicing our skills in wet weather conditions and were able to experience how a guide keeps group morale high, even through such unfavourable conditions.

Unfortunately due to serious weather, the final day was cancelled as the previous night many of the major streets in town became raging torrents due to the Hobart rivulet bursting its banks.

Karl Villanueva

Since finishing TasTAFE’s Adventure Tour Guiding program, I have swapped my office in the city for some of the most beautiful and wild places in Tasmania.  I’ve been given a new lens to see the world around me with an amazing clarity and depth that I didn’t have before.  I have learnt that every single person I get to meet, whether they’re guests or colleagues have an incredible story just waiting to be heard. The course has changed my life and has opened doors that I could never have imagined“.

Karl Villaneuva

Bay of Fires

Last month, the Team Tombolo students spent a glorious four days exploring Mt William/wukalina National Park and the Bay of Fires/larapuna as part of the TasTAFE Adventure Tour Guiding Program.

Under the supervision of our fearless leaders Cody McCracken and Gemma Gooley, this was our first opportunity taking on the roles of Operations Managers, Guides and Caterers.

Team Tombolo walked along the coast from Stumpys Bay to Ansons Bay.  Cody and Gemma demonstrated the skills and attributes it takes to be great guides; including memorable interpretation of cultural living sites (middens), the Devonian granite and Ordovician mudstone found in the Bay of Fires; the symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus that creates lichen and the second greatest murder mystery in the Bay of Fires (don’t worry, the murder mystery is solved and we know the culprit is those conical sand snails!).  This interpretation showed us the power of the personal and how the most impactful interpretations are those that come from the heart.

The trip was also an opportunity to see how some of the companies offering guided tours in the Bay of Fires operate.  We learned about the Wukalina Walk and spent one night at their camp site, krakani lumi (“place of rest”), with its very impressive palawa-inspired dome huts.  We also visited the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk Forester Beach Camp and the Lodge, operated by Tasmanian Walking Co.  Our thanks should also go to Rory from the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk for his hospitality in opening up the lodge to us and letting us sample his scrumptious brownie.

As our first run of taking on the roles of Operations Managers, Guides and Caterers, we all gave it a red-hot go.  We learned about the importance of being able to adjust our plans and adapt when situations change, making and communicating firm deadlines for breaks, how repackaging food before embarking on a walk can make a world of difference in pack weight, and how “smoky” is an adjective that can be used to cover up cooking flaws.  Having said that, we were all treated to some really delicious meals and some of us finally nailed the art of rice cooking on an MSR stove.

Highlights of the trip included sighting pods of dolphins (or was it just one pod following us down the coast?), swimming, glorious sunrises and sunsets, our different interpretations of “having fun” in the sand dunes, Chris’s tarp skills and not one, but five Tombolians completing the ‘guide challenge’ at Eddystone Point Lighthouse … with Cody also completing the challenge and proving he still has what it takes.

A massive thank you to Cody and Gemma for being so willing to share their knowledge and passion for guiding.  You are guides we would love to emulate and hope to work with in the future.