Outdoors

Walls of Jerusalem Winter Trip

The ‘Nunatak’ Adventure Tour Guiding group spent three glorious days in the Walls of Jerusalem late last month.  After the long drive from Hobart, we headed up the hill and were delighted to see some small patches of snow at Trappers Hut.  The snow started to be more prominent once we reached the top of the plateau.

We got to our campsite at Wild Dog Creek just before dark and saw to our delight that the tent platforms were completely covered waist deep in snow.  We spent over an hour shovelling the platforms so we could get our tents up, while the caterers prepared our meals.  We had a scrumptious dinner, then hit the sack early.

The next day we started building a snow cave.  All hands were on deck for that mission and we had ‘shovelers and padders’ building it for hours before we decided it was tall enough.  We then walked up to Damascus Gate and into the central Walls area itself.  We were stunned by how scenic the area was with frozen lakes, snow-covered mountains and stands of ancient Pencil Pines.  We experienced some fantastic Interpretation about alpine vegetation, conifers, crayfish/mountain shrimp and lizards by student’s Kate, Tim, Maddie and Katri.

We got back to camp in the early afternoon so the excavation of the ice cave could begin.  A couple of students slept in the cave overnight and reported that it was very cosy, with no condensation at all.  We had a delicious breakfast the next morning, followed by a quick pack up.

In conclusion, our group had a truly epic trip with beautiful scenery, tough walking conditions with slippery ice and thick snow, a cool ice cave we built ourselves and the experience of everything freezing over.  Thank you to our Instructor’s Sue Beaumont and Ashley Kestle.

Images:  Katri Werner

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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.

 

Flatwater Kayaking

The Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students recently finished their second week of training to be Flatwater Kayaking Instructors.  We paddled the waterfront from Sandy Bay, took a trip down the Derwent River and went kayak surfing at Clifton Beach.

Thanks to instructors Nate Welch and Ange Cunningham, we all had the opportunity to consolidate our techniques in a variety of conditions and practiced delivering briefings.

It was a great week in challenging weather – a highlight was watching Sam carve some waves at Clifton, and come out smiling after a huge backflip wipe out!

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.

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.

 

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!

Wilderness First Aid Training

Whilst we all hope the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students won’t ever have to, they’re now ready to treat and manage medical emergencies in the bush, thanks to last weeks’ Wilderness First Aid training.

The students learnt how to treat many different injuries and illnesses ranging from dislocated shoulders, to deadly bleeds and complex fractures.  They also got the opportunity to put their new skills into practice in a staged, multi-causality, night scenario where they had to assess and treat many different patients at once.

Many thanks to Dave Brown, Richard Youd and Pete Rae for their fantastic instruction and to all the people who volunteered as patients for the night scenario!