Freycinet National Park

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.

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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

Introduction to Abseiling

For us allured to the vertical life, the first trip away for the students from the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation was an intense, information filled week spent at Freycinet National park.

The training was the first part of our BAI (Basic Abseil Instructor) and consisted of drilling into us the concepts of rigging bomb proof anchors.  Utilising natural features such as monolithic boulders and well girthed trees, the training oversaw and guided us all so that by the end of the week our final products were at an industry standard that even Steve Bannon wouldn’t hesitate to advise Trump to rap off them.

Apart from blue bird days, still calm waters, summer temperatures, great company and getting our vertical fix we were also blessed with the presence of Humpback Whales who came within 50m of the cliffs we were rigging.

Our instructors from the TCIA (Tasmanian Climbing Instructors Association), Stu Scott and Richard ‘Youdy’ Youd provided our group with enough information so that we all left feeling competent and confident.  It was truly a fantastic week.

 

Hazards Traverse

Two weeks ago our Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation students enjoyed a two-night trip to the Freycinet Peninsula, where the group further developed their bushwalking and navigation skills.  Accompanied by Cody McCracken of Wild Pedder and TasTAFE Teacher Renee Harrington, the group were blessed with glorious weather and stunning scenery.

Departing from Sleepy Bay, the group followed the coastline to the summit of Mt Parsons and then ascended Mt Baudin where they enjoyed a night sleeping in a cave.  The next morning saw student’s abseiling down a cliff which put many participants out of their comfort zone but proved to be a very rewarding experience.

After descending back to Sleepy Bay, the group continued on to Wineglass Bay and were greeted by a friendly wallaby on the beach and a pod of dolphins in the bay.  The students spent the night sleeping under a blanket of stars on Wineglass Bay beach.

The final day consisted of a small group of students hiking up to the Mt Graham lookout, whilst others enjoyed the glorious beach before returning to the bus and back to Hobart.

The trip was a great opportunity for students to demonstrate their leadership and guiding skills, occupational health and safety policies, cooking, food hygiene practices, weather interpretation and off track navigation.

 

More Climbing

Climbing

NOT just another week at Freycinet National Park for the climbers…

The first week of Spring and the fourth week that the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation climbers made their way out to White Water Wall campground at Freycinet National Park.  This was to be their last chance to truly consolidate their rigging skills before their final assessments in October.

Spoilt with stunning sunrises, whales and a fresh large population of mosquitoes – the cliffs were ours alone to practice on.

On Tuesday the 6th of September, the climbing crew put their hard work and skills to the test and took a group of students from Dominic College out to Lassies Wall for a climb and an abseil.  The Dominic College students were a wonderful bunch of young people, who thoroughly enjoyed their day.  This exchange of experience was immeasurably important for the TasTAFE students, who generally only practice on each other.  We are all very grateful to Dominic College for allowing us the opportunity.

The remainder of the week consisted of:

Rig, climb, rescue, rig, abseil, rig, rescue, climb, rescue, rig!

Come the end of the week the Certificate IV students had gained a significant chunk of practice as well as further understanding of individual areas of improvement needed before assessments.  All in all, another big week of learning for all involved.  Big thanks to Gary, Richard and Dominic College students and staff.

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A Climbing Experience & Caring for the Land

White Water Wall

Two weeks ago the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students came together and headed out to White Water Wall in Tasmania’s beautiful Freycinet National Park.  This trip gave the opportunity for the climbing students to show off their skills and instruct the paddlers through a full experience as their clients in both abseil and top roping on Freycinet’s iconic granite walls.

The two days spent on the ropes gave an excellent chance for climbers to get a feel for what working as an instructor post Cert IV will be like and to consolidate all their skills.  For paddlers the pressure was off and they were able to soak up the sun while pushing themselves to find the next hold on the wall.

The next two days of the trip were spent working with field officers Fiona, Scott and Marty from the Parks & Wildlife Service on environmental management.  With an aim of subtly and sustainably improving the White Water Wall campsite and surrounding areas, we got our hands dirty.

Displaying an incredibly strong work ethic the Cert IV students and instructors launched into their work and accomplished a massive amount in the areas of re-vegetation, drainage, signage and overall maintaining the areas natural integrity for the future.

Before saying goodbye to the coast the majority of us dove into the cold clear winter waters and washed off the week’s sweat.  With learning, plenty of laughs and some dirt under our fingernails we climbed onto the bus hopefully leaving Freycinet even better than we found it.

The following is a thank you email from Fiona, a Ranger with the Parks & Wildlife Service at Freycinet:

“On behalf of the Acting Senior Ranger Richard Dakin and the staff of the Freycinet Field Centre and Freycinet Visitor Centre, I would like to sincerely thank you and the Cert IV Rec volunteer group for their terrific work at White Water Wall and also Honeymoon Bay.  I’m particularly pleased with the outcome at White Water Wall where the group worked on drainage, revegetation and presentation of the site and I am sure this will be appreciated by the many visitors and members of the climbing fraternity who will visit there.

The works were completed safely and sympathetically to balance with the existing ambience of the site; this is a very good outcome and really builds upon the work done by previous years Cert IV Rec volunteer groups.

Although we had initially planned two days of works at White Water Wall, the speed with which your group achieved the proposed outcomes far exceeded our expectations and this led to the choice to look at works on another site within the park.

I hope to revisit the site soon and (as promised) when I do I will take many photos which I will forward to you.  Your group can be justifiably proud of what they achieved and when they return to White Water and Honeymoon in the future they can take some ownership for the good environmental outcomes we are seeing at these sites”.

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Hazards Circuit at Freycinet

 

Freycinet

On the 1st of June, the Certificate III  in Guiding students completed the Hazards Circuit on the Freycinet Peninsula.

Freycinet provided a fantastic opportunity for us, as students to get out of the classroom and apply the knowledge that we have learnt throughout the semester.  By listening and seeing different birds, as well as identifying different species of plants along the track.  It was also fantastic to  complete a multi day walk; whilst developing the fundamental skills of backpack based camping.

The weather was on our side during the trip as we experienced beautiful crispy, but sunny winter days.  It was also great to test out our gear.

Overall, the trip enabled time for reflection and served as a reinforcement as to why we are all so passionate about the outdoors and the desire to share it with locals and visitors in the future.

We would all like to say a special thank you to Stacey for assisting one group and getting us to Freycinet and back safely.  As well as a thank you to Alex for sharing his knowledge of birds and plants with the group.

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