Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation

Introduction to White Water Rafting & Kayaking

Last month the students in the white-water stream of the 2017 Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation had their first introduction to white-water rafting and kayaking on the Picton and Derwent Rivers.  The scenery was beautiful and the group were keen and ready for a big week of learning new skills, visiting new places and having great experiences!  Water levels were perfect for learning on both rivers and students had a great time negotiating the rapids and honing their paddling skills, as well as learning how to run an overnight rafting trip.

The rafting trip was a great success with students learning valuable lessons about navigation on the water, features on the river and team work.  We spent a night camped at Arve Plains where we shared many stories whilst enjoying a four course (yes four courses) meal prepared by the group!  It was delicious!

The melting snow and low temperatures on Tuesday provided some challenging conditions, as well as a great learning opportunity for managing people’s comfort and safety on the water – many extra layers were put on and copious snacks were consumed to fend off the cold!

On Wednesday our group we decided to spend an extra day doing two rafting runs of the Picton River to gain more skills guiding a raft and to build up our confidence.  On Thursday students were introduced to some new paddling strokes in the kayaks and given some valuable one-on-one instruction on their paddling technique.  We had a park and play session in the morning, followed by a river journey where we were able to further practice our newly learnt strokes!

Friday was a fantastic day of park and play at Plenty Railway Bridge where the group gained massive progress in skill and technique, flying from eddy to eddy and smashing personal goals.

It was a massive week of learning and hard work, but being able to see how far we had all come by the end of the week made it worthwhile!  Thanks to our great instructors for showing us the way and telling us tales of their summers’ guiding together on the Franklin River – it really gave us all something to dream about!


Abseiling with Project Booyah

Several weeks ago the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation climbing and abseiling students headed to Launceston Police HQ to observe and assist in the running of a commercial style abseil operation for a youth group involved in the Booyah Program.

After inspecting and critiquing the abseiling rig on the roof of Police HQ, students had the opportunity to practice dispatching and abseiling from the roof.  After a night at Launceston PCYC (Police & Community Youth Club) which included some indoor climbing and a nachos feast, the group returned to Police HQ next morning in readiness for the Booyah group.

TasTAFE students conducted briefings, gear fitting and dispatching activities for the Booyah group under the supervision of Police and TasTAFE instructors while others in the TasTAFE group cooked up a BBQ lunch for all involved.

In addition to consolidating their abseiling, rigging and dispatching skills the TasTAFE students had the opportunity to work with young clients in a “real environment”.  Thanks to Richard Youd (TasTAFE instructor) for his guidance and to Ross McIvor (Project Booyah) for the opportunity to work with his group.

River Crossing Skills

Two weeks ago our Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students left the comforts of the Drysdale South Campus to adventure north following the Derwent River.  After a week in the classroom, the students were itching to test out some of their newfound river crossing skills.

The day was jam-packed with hazard scenarios, river reading techniques and some very, very icy water!

Leven River Trip

With the Certificate IV Outdoor Recreation course coming to an end, the white-water paddlers recently embarked on a week of white-water kayaking, and instructing students on the Leven River.  It was a new stretch of water for the group and had some fun rapids and features to play on (contend with!), at the level it was flowing.  After the first reconnaissance mission down the river, we all retired with the comfort of Paton Park Scout Camp facilities for the night.

The following day, we enjoyed another run down the river, which was flowing at a slightly lower level, and relished the opportunity to play on some waves and plough through a hole, before an afternoon of instruction that we were to provide to some of the outdoor education students from Don College.  It was decided that we should take the students to the mouth of the Forth River, where some flatter water could be utilised, with the possibility of surfing some waves at the end of the day, if the students were up to it.  Despite the broad range of abilities in the group of learners, all students ended up surfing waves and having an enjoyable experience together.

Given the level of the Leven River the following day, we decided to take the next group of Don College students there and provide instruction that would allow a short river trip to be run.  Again, the Don College students rose to the challenge and were able to negotiate some rapids and have a safe and enjoyable white-water experience.

As the following day was our last opportunity as a group to practice our paddling before our formal assessment, we spent the entire day being drilled by ‘Sergeant’ Nate Welch, who is largely responsible for the fantastic development of the group over the duration of the course.  There was more than one occasion where I stopped to think about how far we have all come with our white-water kayaking skills, ability to pass on those skills in an effective and empathetic manner and to safely facilitate a river trip with students who are quite new to kayaking.

Beyond the professional development that has occurred within the group, there has been a strong social connection between our student group and our leader, Nate Welch, which was clearly evident on the late-night drive back to Hobart.  I would like to thank all involved for making the trip such an enjoyable success!

Navigation Assessment


The process or activity of accurately ascertaining one’s position and planning and following a route.

Considered primordial to some, a skill that has been used throughout the world for thousands of years.  Once considered by 12th century Hugh of St Victor as one of the seven ‘Artes Mechanicae’.  Bringing voyagers, globetrotters and pioneers to the ’edge’ of earth, only to help them see that it is actually round, it has helped us traverse across continents, explore parts of the globe that before it, were only known to the wild, and today, more than ever, navigation leads the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students to areas off trail, and deep, deep, within the bush.

The students piled into the bus and made their way towards the central highlands of Tasmania.  Bronte Park awaited their arrival.  The forecast showed flood worthy rain, little to no sun, and temperatures closer to sub zero than double digits.  The students knew the journey they were to embark upon was nothing short of an adventure.  Luckily, that’s exactly what each and everyone of them signed up for.

We spent a total of four days traversing the highlands of Skullbone Plains.  The group was split into two, each with an assessor.  We were assessed on our ability to get the group from point A to B in the most efficient manner whilst using a topographical map and a magnetic compass.  Upon arriving to the given point, the students were asked to justify their movements and positioning by identifying micro features, distance travelled and techniques used to arrive at their given destination.  Students had to demonstrate competency in leading three times to pass the assessment.

After a long cold week, the students hopped back on the bus and made their way back to TasTAFE, where beer and chips became the primary focus of the remaining hours of the day and night.

Till next time!


Raft Guides Course

Raft Guides Course

The Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation Rafting students gathered at the North Esk Memorial Hall in September to obtain their qualifications in Raft Guiding.  We would be guided by our instructors on all the skills and knowledge needed to be a raft guide over the next five days.

We were very lucky to be joined by a crack team of raft guides with a large number of years’ experience in raft guiding all around the world.  Our instructors were headed up by Shaun Clement and Nate Welch.  Joined by a team of volunteer instructors made up of Pat Stam, Richard Guy, Ange Cunningham, Amy Hamilton and Renee Harrington.

On the first day, we hit the river and our instructors gave us a demonstration of a professional rafting trip.  Each day we rafted the White Hills to Corra Linn section of the North Esk River.  This section of river made for a great learning environment with tight technical rapids combined with fun steep drops.  There were five rafts on the water and we each took turns guiding the raft under the guidance of an instructor while the others acted as clients.  We used as much of the daylight to be on the water and had night lessons focusing on basic raft set up, how a raft moves on water, using river features and raft repair.

Throughout the day we also worked on delivering safety briefings, dealing with raft flips, use of river features to help control a raft, running a rafting trip, on-water safety and communication.  All up, the rafting over the five days was full of excitement with lots of good lines and a few interesting ones, which made for a great experience for everyone.

We would like to give a big thank you to our volunteer instructors for giving up their time to come and help out for the week.  It made for a much better experience for having you all there.  As well as a very big thank you to Nate and Tanky for putting together and running an excellent course.

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White Water Rescue


On Friday the 2nd of September the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation crew set off north for the White Water Rescue Short Course running at the North Esk Memorial Hall over two and a half days.

Arriving at the hall just after 11 am, and running the course for 27 participants we had our work cut out for us.  Between unpacking gear, getting set up, and people arriving there wasn’t much time spent relaxing.

After everything was set up and everyone had arrived, we got underway with our first theory session and then into some dry land throw bag practice to test out people’s power and accuracy before we moved into the dynamic white water.  We headed down to Corra Linn on the North Esk where our practical sessions were taking place.  Starting out with some river crossings, river swimming and live water throw bagging we soon warmed up in the cold water.  After many rescued swimmers, we headed back to the hall for some dinner and more theory.

Saturday morning arrived and into the theory we dove, learning about river hydrology.  After that was covered, we did some dry land foot entrapment rescues before lunch.  Once again heading to Corra Linn after lunch for some practical time in the water.  This time we had a crack at some harder river swimming, swimming over strainers and real-time foot entrapment rescues.  Once everyone was feeling more confident in the white water we once again headed back, this time to do some dry land mechanical advantage systems for stuck rafts by the light of our head torches.  Dinner was welcomed before another theory session followed by bed time.

Another early morning on Sunday, we learned about how to deal with stubborn kayaks that wedge themselves between rocks.  This time we headed to the river before lunch where the instructors set up three stations.  First was a tethered swim, second a tensioned diagonal rope used to cross a river and third was a raft wrapped around a rock with some stranded rafters.  Using the knowledge we had learned over the previous days, we rotated through the stations and sorted out each situation with confidence.

Once we finished up in the water, we had lunch and our written assessment. Upon completion goodbyes and thanks were said to all involved, and another TasTAFE short course was successfully delivered.

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