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.


Guiding Dominique Crenn

On Monday, our Guiding team-member, Larni Davies along with International Guiding student – Francesco Aimassi and Brand Tasmania were fortunate to host Dominique Crenn – the worlds Best Female Chef for 2016, as part of the Great Chef Series.  The group spent the day on a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Seafood Seduction Tour.

Between the months of March to August, TasTAFE Drysdale presents the ‘Great Chefs Series’ in Launceston and Hobart.  The Great Chefs Series is an opportunity for some of the most influential culinary minds on the planet to mentor, coach and collaborate with the developing talent within the Tasmanian hospitality industry and TasTAFE Drysdale using Tasmanian produce.

Dominique Crenn, a two Michelin star chef at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow district (and two-time Michelin star chef at Luce in 2009 and 2010) focuses on cuisine as a craft and the community as an inspiration. “Atelier” can be defined as a workshop or studio, especially for an artist or designer, and this concept drives Chef Crenn’s modern vision for fine-French cuisine, where artistry is at the forefront.

The full-day cruise began in Hobart where the group were treated to an unforgettable day of indulgence and amazing food.  Dominique and her Chef Felix, savored the delicious seafood feast served up by Robert Pennicott himself, accompanied by gourmet local produce.

The tour ventured into the sheltered waters of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to enjoy some freshly shucked Oysters and Sea Urchin.  In the afternoon we continued around the North Eastern tip of Bruny Island where Dominique and Felix were able to enjoy more Tasmanian fare, including Southern Rock Lobster, freshly caught Wild Abalone and more local produce.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Francesco – a Guiding student who has performed very well in his course this year, to experience a successful Tourism operation, engaging guiding skills … and to spend the day with a World Class Chef!

The Overland Track

The Overland Track

Two weeks ago the Certificate IV in Adventure Guiding students walked The Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.  It was an exciting trip, with wild weather proving a true test for all.

Upon arriving at Cradle Mountain, the group split into two with one group heading over Marion’s Lookout down to Waterfall Valley whilst the other group headed over Hanson’s Peak to the Scott Kilvert Memorial Hut.  Here the weather threw out its first challenge, showering us with icy rain and snow.  It was a wet and cold start, but the incredibly beautiful view of Cradle Mountain elegantly standing above it all, was a sight to remember.

As each day progressed, the weather continued to surprise us with an amazing two days allowing one group to summit Mt Ossa with perfectly clear skies, whilst the other group found an incredible waterfall in a valley filled with giant Pandani’s and Myrtle trees.

One of the most stimulating moments for everyone was seeing the geology in real life, from the giant glacial valleys to the million-year-old conglomerate with fossils encased.  As each group walked along, we tested our flora and fauna knowledge, identifying the different plants and the calls of the birds from the distance.

We also enjoyed hearing stories about the Trappers and Snarers, who turned into the first tour guides and rangers of the National Park.  History behind the mining era was also shared, bringing to life the vast and varied story of the Cradle Valley region.

The final three days saw the rain settle in deep and it was a wet finish to a remarkable walk.  Huge congratulations to all the students for pushing through the rain and snow, keeping spirits high and for completing one of Australia’s most iconic walks.

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RTO Code:  60142

Graduate Profile : Matt Wesley

Matt Wesley

Where are you currently working?  The Rock Tour based in Alice springs as Head Senior Guide.

What do you love most about your job?  So many things!  The people, the national park, the culture and the weather.

What training did you undertake with TasTAFE?  I did Certificate III & IV in Guiding and Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation.  We also did a Wilderness First Aid Course and I completed my training in 2013.

What did you value about your training at TasTAFE?  Lots of it really but one of the most was how it prepared us for the industry.  That really helped a lot.

How has your training helped you with your Guiding career?  In so many ways.   Helping with not only the interpretation side of things but also the ‘behind the scenes’ and the reality of the Guiding world.  All those things help your career just go a lot smoother overall.  I don’t imagine what it would be like to go into Guiding without it.

What is your most memorable moment you have experienced on a trip?  It’s hard to nail one down but I had a couple get engaged at Uluru while we were at sunset.  Even though they didn’t tell us until after, it was nice to have it happen and get invited to the wedding in Belgium!

If you could invite anyone on a trip, who would it be?  My Guiding teachers.  So they could see how the training has worked!

If you could give one piece of advice for someone contemplating a career in the outdoors, what would it be?  Do it!  And do the TasTAFE course – it’s been invaluable for me.


RTO Code: 60142

Walking in the Walls of Jerusalem

Walls of Jerusalem

Two weeks ago the Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation students went to the Walls of Jerusalem for a 4 day bushwalk to hone our guiding and bushwalking skills.

On arrival, the group split into two groups with the intention to meet halfway at Dixons Kingdom.  The first group headed south and camped the night at Stretcher Lake, whilst the other group headed southeast and stayed at the Wild Dog Creek campsite.  After meeting at Dixons Kingdom the two groups then retraced each others steps back to the bus.

On the first night we set up camp in the dark and the rain, but woke to a clear morning with a fresh blanket of snow which completely changed the landscape.  This was truly a breath-taking experience.

One group even climbed Mt. Jerusalem pre-dawn and were rewarded with an amazing sunrise on the summit.

On the last couple of days, the weather cleared up providing us with amazing conditions, especially for this time of year and finishing off our trip on a high note.

A big thank you to Bruce Morley and Gemma Gooley for coming along and for the fun we had along the way.

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RTO Code: 60142