Meet Our Trusted Guides
The best way to learn about the fascinating landscapes you are walking in is with an experienced, knowledgeable guide...
Not only do they use their expertise and experience to keep you safe and lead the way, our brilliant, trusty guides always share their passion for what they do, bringing the nature and places they care about to life with stories and insights.
As you walk alongside them, they might tell tales of shipwrecks and escaped convicts. They could explain complex geology and give insights into Aboriginal culture. They might tell you about dinosaurs and rescued whales, as well as unusual plants and rare marsupials.
They will laugh with you, eat dinner with you, and act as the glue that bonds the group together.
Our guides have many years of experience on walking trails, and each have intriguing interests and exciting insights to share with you. And, as you get to know them, they will get to know more about you as well.
Many of those who have completed one of these hikes talk about the like-minded people they find themselves travelling with. But it’s not just your fellow visitors that might become long-term friends – you may end up having an enduring friendship with your guide, too.
Because they simply love what they do for a living, and are so familiar with the areas you are walking through together, they can help create an experience that you’ll remember long after your thigh muscles have recovered.
Get ready to meet some of the best hiking and nature guides in Australia!
“I try to make sense of the interrelationships between plants and geology, and animals and nature, and us humans, by providing an immersive experience. It’s not just about ticking the boxes, like seeing a kangaroo or seeing a bird.”
Charlie Eager is a passionate field guide who has spent about a decade guiding in some of the wildest parts of Australia. His adventures have included swimming with whale sharks in Western Australia and looking for crocodiles in the flood plains of the Northern Territory. These days he takes guests out into the ancient rocky landscape of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges on a four-day trekking route called The Arkaba Walk.
The story out here is about environmental recovery and conservation. The Arkaba Walk runs through a giant former sheep station that was destocked to encourage the return of native wildlife. “There’s a lot more vegetation now and we see new bird species every year,” he says. “And this is tied into the amount of insects that are now on the ground.”
To the untrained eye, “this environment can look quite harsh, but there is a huge amount of diversity here”, says Charlie. “We come across three different kangaroo species, rock wallabies, emus and lots of different types of lizards, insects, birds and plants. What makes this walk unique is seeing how all these things have evolved and flourished in a challenging semi-arid environment.”
Charlie is actively involved in restoring ecological balance to the property. As a result, he’s seen lots of native animals return, including small mammals that were once extinct in the local area.
“I love shipwreck stories because they have a lot of character about them, especially if they involve alcohol. One of them is the story of the Joanna, which was shipwrecked in 1843. A group sent to salvage the ship’s large store of cherry brandy spent a month getting drunk and having a party.”
Guide Darlene Parker says the four-day Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk is a story in itself, which culminates in the craggy Twelve Apostles limestone-rock stacks that are continually battered by waves.
She tries to “immerse her guests into the landscape” as soon as she meets them, by telling tales about the ancient Aboriginal walking trails that ran across the rugged coastline. From then on, there are stories about shipwrecks, lighthouse keepers and the cave that revealed dozens of dinosaur bones.
Before she became a guide, Darlene spent nine years out at sea, working on cruise ships. “I really loved it,” she says, “travelling the world, meeting so many people, but now I love being outdoors in nature. I think it was because of all those years in a confined space.”
Darlene completed an intensive environmental training course in South Africa, where she learnt many of the skills that she uses on the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk. “I was taught in the classroom and on safari about interpreting things as you see them,” she says, “and not just to talk about something during structured stops on a walk.” You won’t come across elephants and lions on your trek – but whatever you see, hear, smell or feel, Darlene will be there to explain it.
“You meet lots of like-minded people. You generally have very happy, excited people. It’s really cool being a part of people’s first experiences in the outback.”
Alice Homan is a long way from home when she takes guests on the challenging six-day Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort through the Central Australian outback.
“I was brought up in the relatively cool and green surrounds of Launceston, in Tasmania,” she says. “But on the Larapinta Trail it’s endless blue skies, and it’s pretty exciting when you get clouds. The ridge lines are very, very red. The rocks are sharp and jagged. There are a number of gorges and waterfalls. And you see lots of kites, eagles and finches. There are wallabies, too.”
Alice says that the scenery surprises most people. “A lot of them are blown away by how many ridge lines and how many hills and how many highlands there are,” she says. “It’s a common misconception of Central Australia that it’s all flat and sandy, whereas the Larapinta Trail follows a mountain range.” The trek can be hard at times, but Alice takes your mind off things with stories about the land’s traditional owners and early explorers.
Cooking is one of Alice’s hobbies, and she helps prepare three-course dinners for her guests on the trail. You might start with a plate of different Australian cheeses, followed by a lamb roast cooked on the coals and finally a cake baked in a camp oven over the flames. Then it’s time for bed, on a comfortable mattress in a tent.
Despite being relatively young, Alice is one of Australia’s most experienced outback guides.
“I really loved the natural side of things while I was studying marine biology, but I didn’t want to be stuck in a lab. Through guiding, I’ve found a passion for teaching and sharing knowledge.”
Luke Brokensha believes being in nature is a healing experience. He studied marine biology and has recently been involved in ‘wilderness therapy’ in the wilds of Canada.
“It’s basically using experiences in nature to help build character,” he explains. “You take people away from the systems and the processes that affect them negatively, and make them see that when they are removed from all those things they are actually good people and they have good values. And that’s best done in nature, where people are taken out of their comfort zone.”
Getting out into nature is what the four-day Freycinet Experience Walk is all about. While strolling on sugar-white beaches lined with sculptured boulders stained with bright orange lichen, Luke points out mounds of seashells that are the remains of meals eaten by local Aboriginal people over thousands of years.
He also tells stories about European explorers who sailed the coastline, and he alerts you to rare birds, plants that grow nowhere else and dolphins and whales passing by the coast. “There was a beached dolphin on one of our tours, and after about 45 minutes we managed to drag it back into the water and guide it back out to sea,” he says. “It was pretty incredible.”
“I love guiding because I love talking! I also love to encourage people to learn new things.”
Heather McNaughton knows a lot about the Murray River because she spent 10 years living on a 243,000-hectare (600,000-acre) farm that ran right up to the riverbank, with about 10,000 sheep as friends. Eventually, her father-in-law sold the property to an organisation that preserves and improves important ecosystems. Today, it’s an important nature reserve.
“I’m really, really passionate about this area,” says Heather. “I love informing other people about how the land was used in the past, and talking about the Aboriginal rangers that are now being trained on the land that we used to live on.”
In a lovely turn of events, part of the four-day Murray River Walk runs through the property that was once Heather’s home. She shows guests ancient Aboriginal campfires and ‘scar trees’, from which Indigenous Australians removed the bark to make canoes. “Sometimes we don’t follow a path,” says Heather, “we just follow kangaroo tracks along the river.”
When guests aren’t spotting koalas and echidnas, they are cruising past pelicans on a small river vessel before returning to a luxurious houseboat.
Heather used to be a lecturer and she uses her teaching skills to tell tales about the river. One of her favourite stories involves Charles Sturt and his crew, who in 1830 became the first Europeans to row the length of the Murray River. Described as the life blood of inland Australia, the Murray River is 2508-kilometres (1558-miles) long – which makes it the country’s longest river.
“I like doing things that I didn’t think I could do … but I also love being able to give people the hospitality experience while being immersed in nature.”
Danielle Grew spent a decade working in cafes and as a pastry chef in a bakery, before she turned to guiding. Her cooking skills come in handy when she’s preparing dinner for trekkers on the four-day Bay of Fires Lodge Walk.
“It was really good to have that experience,” she says, “but it was all indoors, and when I found myself working for the Tasmanian Walking Company, I got to grill Tasmanian salmon in a little standing camp nestled in the sand dunes.”
Before earning her living as a guide, she also studied outdoor recreation. She had no idea that the course would involve climbing and abseiling. “I’m very scared of heights so that was a massive challenge for me,” says Danielle. “Now I love climbing. It’s out of my comfort zone. But at the end of the day I surprise myself, and it’s a big achievement.”
Walk with Danielle and you learn about rare wading birds, shark eggs, the fascinating life of cuttlefish and how Captain Tobias Furneaux noticed the campfires made by Aboriginal people on the beaches in 1773. He named the area the Bay of Fires in response.
“The water is so clear here, and the bays and coves are so beautiful and so secluded and pristine,” she says. “It can also be raw and rugged. It really feels like you are in the middle of nature.”
“The storytelling is the most important thing I do on the trek. I build the stories about the land and water, and I get to watch people experience the amazing scenery for the first time.”
Josh Wood is a fitness coach and wilderness guide. He says his goal is to help people “find their passion for getting active”. Josh has competed in boxing, powerlifting and jujitsu. He is also a lead guide on the four-day Three Capes Lodge Walk through the Tasman National Park.
You might wonder where his accent comes from. Well, Josh grew up in Minnesota, in the United States. He met his Australian wife while backpacking in Scotland, and they now live in Tasmania.
Trekking is a big part of Josh’s life. He recently returned from a five-week walk in the Himalayas, but he says the Three Capes Lodge Walk is one of his favourite treks. “The track’s biggest claim to fame is that you’re walking along the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere,” he says. “But for me, the most special place along the way is a hidden rainforest with towering tree ferns. It’s a little piece of Gondwana, the supercontinent that existed before Australia was created.”
As he guides you along a track cut out of forested ridges and hills, high above the ocean, he tells stories of escaped convicts. Among them was Billy Hunt, who hopped away into the bush wearing a kangaroo skin. He surrendered after a soldier decided to use the kangaroo as target practice.
The benefit of having Josh as your guide is that his excitement about living in Tasmania will set your heart racing.
“It’s a really special little part of the world, and it’s a real privilege to be able to show guests around and share my passion with them about where I live and where I’ve grown up.”
Elise Parker enjoys guiding because “it’s a lovely contrast” to her other role, as a registered nurse. When she’s not leading the four-day Margaret River Cape to Cape Walk, Elise works in the rural community around the wine-growing region of Margaret River, looking after elderly farmers and other locals.
“A lot of them are long-term residents who know my family from the 1960s onwards,” she says. “So I get their stories, which I then get to bring to the work I do on the walk, and then I get to take my walking stories back to those people, who are often housebound.”
Chats with Elise are sure to be varied because she also volunteers at a local charity shop, bakes treats for a Men’s Shed (where local men meet to pass on skills and have a chat), and takes part in a Christmas motorcycle toy run for kids in need.
“The walk itself is very special, because it’s so varied,” she says. “We’ve got huge sea views, limestone cliffs, caves, beach walking, tracks through beautiful forest, pods of dolphins, whales migrating with their babies, incredible spring flowers, and plants found nowhere else.” One of the most unusual creatures you might see while walking is a quenda. It’s a brown marsupial about the size of a rabbit, with a long, pointed nose.
Elise has lived in the area since she was young, and she still loves what she describes as her “backyard”. This makes her the perfect person to share stories about the Margaret River region of Western Australia.
“We have all these screens and technology, and that’s not a bad thing, but I’m interested in coming back to ourselves and coming back to nature.”
Georgia Currant has tourism in her blood – her father developed and operated some of Tasmania’s iconic hotels, lodges and wilderness retreats. After working in hospitality herself, Georgia is now a guide on World Heritage site Maria Island, located off Tasmania’s east coast.
As well as getting a walking workout, Georgia likes to exercise her brain. She is studying psychological science at university, and she has recently graduated from a leadership and facilitation course. “I’m really interested in leadership development and effective leadership and that sort of ties in with the psychological side of things as well,” she says. “I get to talk with guests about the research about the benefits of walking in the wilderness, which gives extra meaning to what they are doing.”
For Georgia, one of the highlights of the four days it takes to complete The Maria Island Walk is Riedle Bay and its pretty beach. “I’ve seen it in so many different lights, including when it’s incredibly rugged and wild. I love getting guests excited about wild weather, because you see a completely different side of the island.”
As she walks, she explains the changing geology and tells stories about the first European settlers and convicts, as well as Aboriginal people who were there before everyone else. “It’s like a mini Tasmania on one island,” she says. “It’s a really small, condensed place that’s experienced so much.”
“I really bond with the guests and, if they show an interest in me and the environment, I tell them about my travels. It’s an amazing part of my life.”
Scott Roberts has had a few unusual jobs in his time, including taking a puma for a walk in Bolivia and sleeping alongside it in a hammock. He has also looked after young capuchin monkeys in the Amazon and orphaned black bear cubs in Canada. He sometimes tells people about his travelling adventures while on the luxury five-day Scenic Rim Trail.
“I started off as a primary school teacher and then spent 16 years travelling overseas, a bit of work and travel, then a bit of work and travel again,” he says. “As I went on, I started to have more environmental travelling trips.”
Scott likes the variety you come across on the walk he now leads, which includes trekking up the rim of an ancient volcano. “I take guests on a journey up its western slope. As we go up, you get to see the changes in the rock colour, formation, texture and hardness, and all these beautiful changes in the flora.”
Along the way, he might talk about evolution, and the splitting and reforming of continents, and the types of plants and spiders that have existed in these World Heritage-listed rainforests for millions of years. And, at the top of the volcano, he asks you to imagine the rainforests crisscrossed with “Indigenous highways”, used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
“Until I started walking, I didn’t have a really strong sense of place and belonging, but now I have a very, very strong connection to the Tasmanian wilderness.”
Emily Pearce is such a keen walker that in 2018 she hiked from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. The year before, she spent several months walking in Europe: the length of Southern Germany, half of Austria, around Mont Blanc and through the Dolomite Mountains in Italy.
Trekking in Europe, in particular, made her really appreciate walking in Tasmania’s wilderness, she says. “Over there, you couldn’t really get away from people and human development. For six days on the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, it’s mountains and rainforests, and eucalyptus bush and button-grass plains. You rarely see anyone.”
When asked why she likes walking so much, Emily talks about the guests she travels with. “People are out of their comfort zone, and doing something that they’ve probably never done before. They open up, and you often have the best conversations of your life on the track.”
The cultural practices of Tasmanian Aboriginal people feature a lot in what she talks about, because they’ve shaped much of the landscape. “Through a process called firestick farming, they would burn the button-grass plains so the plants created new shoots that would attract the native animals,” she explains. “This meant they could hunt easily in the area we walk through.”
“As a guide you have a really transient lifestyle, which is fun until you get to the point when you’d really love to just slow down – and Lord Howe is a perfect place to slow down.”
Jessica Thomas is lucky enough to live on World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, a two-hour flight from Sydney. She works as a guide for Pinetrees Lodge and takes guests on hikes to the top of seven of the island’s peaks, returning to the lodge each night.
Jessica has guided for companies in nine different countries – including New Zealand, Nepal, Tibet and different parts of South America and South-East Asia – before she arrived on Lord Howe Island. Settling down might sound difficult for a person like Jessica – someone who has also ridden a bicycle through 32 countries – but there’s a lot to keep her interested on the island, including about 200 types of bird and the hundreds of fish species that live among the corals.
As well as hikes through palm-filled rainforest, guests on the five-day Seven Peaks Walk stop at snorkelling spots and there are plenty of opportunities to watch the brilliant sunsets. “You also get to look at the island from lots of different angles by climbing up to different vantage points,” she says.
The natural environment plays a large part in Jessica’s storytelling, which includes the re-discovery of the largest stick insect in the world. It was declared extinct in 1986. Then, in 2001, it was found on a volcanic rock stack out to sea, and a large breeding program began.
Jessica’s enthusiasm for Lord Howe Island’s history brings memories of early settlers back to life.