TasTAFE

Tasman Peninsula Walk

Two weeks ago, the ‘Nunatak’ Adventure Tour Guiding students were out and about for three days following the Tasman Peninsula Circuit along bush tracks, long stretches of board walks and steep, slippery wet eucalyptus banks.

This was our final bushwalking trip within the comfort of the Adventure Tour Guiding program before heading into the summer season as qualified guides. Some students had already been assessed on previous trips and could happily tag along as ‘customers’ while others were bearing the full load of guiding, catering and interpreting.  The scenery was spectacular, food was palatable and the weather was kind.

Managing the group whilst navigating unknown terrain proved a great challenge for the up-and-coming guides who all did their best to provide a great walking experience, whilst keeping everyone safe, happy, hydrated and fuelled across long days of walking.

After an easy first day heading inland from Fortescue Bay along the Cape Pillar Track we based ourselves at the Wughalee Falls campground for two nights.  We headed out on the 17 km return trip to Cape Pillar’s stunning cliffs overlooking Tasman Island on Day 2, and braved the steep ascent over Mount Fortescue on Day 3.  By this stage, the final track to Cape Hauy was just a hop, skip and jump.  By the end of it all everyone was relieved to have made it back to the bus at Fortescue Bay as the day was slipping away rapidly.

Highlights included a look-behind-the–scenes of Tas Walking Co.’s brand-new hut along the Cape Pillar Track, the enchanting rainforest around Mount Fortescue and, of course, the vast expanse of ocean crashing into Australia’s highest sea cliffs.  Other key learning points from the last trip of the year included:

  • As a guide, be caring and compassionate!  Check in with individual group members to make sure everyone is in good spirits!
  • $500 to walk the Three Capes Track is well worth the investment; and if you want to get pampered, spend some extra on the Tas Walking Co’s experience!
  • Just because it’s raining and freezing doesn’t mean you have to put on extra layers! (Look after yourself, Rhianna!)
  • Cooking on camp stoves always takes longer than estimated!
  • Snakes and spiders are much less frightening and dangerous than their reputation!
  • You can disguise fake-meat in a Bolognese and no one will notice!
  • Walking meditations are a great way to quieten the group and connect people to their surroundings. (Nicely done, Tristan!)

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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.

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.

 

White Water Kayaking

Last week, students of the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation course took to the Derwent River, followed by the Leven River in the north of Tasmania to tackle a week of whitewater kayaking.

Students spent the first two days developing their white water skills on the Derwent River such as reading whitewater, ferry gliding, exiting/entering eddies and much more.  Over the rest of the week, students were given the opportunity to execute their newly learnt skills and push their limits kayaking down the Leven River.

Highlights of the week included the satisfaction of improving throughout the week, group bonding and Ciara calmly waving and accepting her fate of being washed into a hole (a white water feature).  The students were lucky enough to be instructed by one of Tasmania’s most experienced and greatest instructors Nate Welch, special thanks also goes to Technical Assistant, Matt Smith.

Navigation

 The TasTAFE Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students had to recently change their plans because of a severe weather warning across the state.  Proving their flexibility, they spent two days finessing their off-track navigation skills on the slopes of kunanyi / Mt Wellington.

kunanyi / Mt Wellington provided plenty of opportunities for the lively discussions regarding the nature of re-entrants, spurs and compass needles and the accuracy of counting paces.  The students are looking forward to soon demonstrating their navigational skills in an off-track multi-day bushwalking environment.

 

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!

River Crossings

The Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students recently facilitated an exciting River Crossings day for the Certificate IV Adventure Guiding students.  Recent heavy snow falls and the following snow-melt provided us with exciting river levels and very cold water at Plenty on the Derwent River.  We spent the day teaching the Adventure Guides all about river features and how to choose where to safely cross a river in a bushwalking context, as well as practical river crossing techniques – all valuable skills they are likely to need to use at some stage in their career as remote bushwalking guides in Tasmania and beyond!

The Outdoor Recreation students made the most of the opportunity to practice their practical teaching skills, as well as their swift water safety and rescue skills they learnt in a short course they attended a few weeks earlier.  We loved seeing the excitement on the faces of the Adventure Guides, many of whom were entering into the white-water environment for the first time!

For the Adventure Guides, many fears were overcome in the challenging swimming scenarios (swimming with a pack on and swimming over an artificial log) especially by the less confident swimmers who eventually succeeded in all the challenges set for them and they ended their day on a real high!  Some of the Adventure Guides were so inspired by the experience that they wanted to come back next year and do the whole Outdoor Recreation course!