Guiding

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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Navigation on the Central Plateau

For the final three days before the Adventure Guiding students disappeared into their mid-semester break, they found themselves learning how to not get lost up in the Central Plateau.

Navigation is an essential skill for a guide and we learnt how to use a compass, get a bearing and figure out our direction of travel; how to read a map and identify features such as spurs, gullies, ridges, knolls, crests and other features and then identify these in the landscape (and vice versa).

We learnt that Naismith (a rule for estimating the length of time a distance can be walked in) is an optimist, especially when hiking/stumbling off-track.

This trip was a first for the students in many regards.  The Tombolo class were separated into three smaller groups for this trip and we did not see each other again until we reunited back at the bus on the last day to depart.  It was the first time that many of us had hiked ‘off-track’ which meant slogging through thick scrub, cold creeks and scrambling over boulders, depending on which path the “navigator” had set the group on.  Everyone took turns to lead their group using various navigational techniques to get to their destination, and no-one got lost … for very long.

Not following a track really gave us a new appreciation for the Tassie wilderness and by using natural features in the landscape such as waterways, ridgelines, the contouring of the hills as catching features and handrails (navigational terms) we were able to identify where we were and find our way.

Something that was quite special was getting up to the high plateau and seeing cider gums and cushion plants where wallabies wandered.  It was also our first real winter trip and we experienced some high winds and wet weather, but the first opportunity for some of us (mainlanders) to experience snow/sleet (it’s cold!).

After a particularly windy wet night of wild weather the groups converged almost simultaneously back at the bus.  All a little less dry but more confident and capable in their ability to navigate.  A big thank you to the staff; Gemma, Renee and Tom who spent 6 days out in the field between both classes of students to impart their knowledge and remind us constantly to orientate the map!

As the bus drove back into Hobart and we entered the semester break, we were well on track to becoming Adventure Guides.

 

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.

Bay of Fires Bushwalk

The second week of June saw the last trip for the Certificate III in Guiding students and our first overnight hiking trip.  We left Hobart bright and early on Tuesday morning in two mini-buses for the long trip up to Ansons Bay and the Bay of Fires area.

The groups of ten students each, called ‘Larapuna‘ and ‘Wukalina‘ were led by Cody McCracken and Tom Keith respectively, who are alumni from our sister program – the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation course eight years ago and now work for Tasmanian Walking Co.

The new teachers posed a refreshing change in style, with all the students gaining a valuable personal connection with the Bay of Fires region and learning the realities of adventure guiding.  We walked between Stumpys Bay to Ansons Bay via Deep Creek along the Bay of Fires coastline, with the two groups walking in opposite directions.  This trip was ran in a similar fashion as the commercial trip ‘Bay of Fires Lodge’ 4-day walk and was a great learning experience for all.  The dinner provided by the caterers in each group were spectacular, which was a great achievement for the first groups cook entirely on the shellite MSR stoves rather than gas camp stoves.

Hearing the experienced interpretation of the local landscape, continuously engaged and awed students.  Interestingly, we learnt how the beaches became different over the winter months due to increased southerly storm systems, piling up metres of soft sand at the northern end of some of the beaches making for difficult walking.  We also learnt about the Bay of Fires lichen; composition of sand; ocean currents; rocks and Aboriginal History among many others.  The communication skills presented in these interpretations by our teachers provided great examples of how dense information can be communicated simply and concisely – a goal we can all work towards.

Eddystone Point Light House was also a special experience for everyone, learning the history, understanding the granite and seeing Southern Right whales offshore!  Both groups also got the chance to go swimming near several dolphins playing in the surf, which was spectacular.

On the final day, the ‘Larapuna’ group had a wonderful Sun Salutation yoga and meditation session overlooking the ocean at sunrise, ran by our student leader for the day.  After a relaxed morning packing up, we met up with the other group and headed back towards Hobart.  After well-deserved pies for lunch at the Bicheno Bakery, we got back to Hobart in the late afternoon.

As the last trip for the Certificate III in Guiding program and our first overnight walk, we are all keen and ready for Certificate IV in Guiding and the many fantastic winter walks starting in July!

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.