We headed to Port Macquarie to chat with students on the beach, which is actually part of their course.
What they study: Bachelor of Applied Science (Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism)
Q: Why did you choose to do a Bachelor of Applied Science (Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism)?
A: I always knew I wanted to be a guide, but didn’t know it was an option! Then I found this course.
I’ve always felt strongly that I wanted to work outdoors and in the environment. I also wanted a job that was both physically and intellectually stimulating. A career as a guide is a combination of all of those things and this course prepares you for it.
Q: Tell us a bit about the course. What’s it like?
A: I’m on the Port Macquarie campus. I moved here from Sydney and I love it. It’s so practical, we are always out in nature – experiencing different ecosystems and learning how we can translate our knowledge to others.
Our teachers have all come from the industry, which is great. It means that they are giving us relevant skills that will actually get us the job at the end.
Q: Talk to us about the industry. What roles are available?
A: There are so many roles within the industry!
You could be a tour director. They are the ones responsible for logistics, confirmations, planning, damage control and group dynamics. They also give commentary on the history and culture of a place. Then there is a tour guide who gives specific narration in a place, so they will join a tour group for just a couple of hours. You could do long-term contract work on cruises that travel through tourist destinations or you could work in a national park. Then there are companies that specialise in climbing, hiking, abseiling or mountaineering that hire activity leaders too.
Any of these roles could be a stepping stone into owning your own business. You could open a tour business, an activity-based service business or an outdoor shop.
Q: What do you like about the job?
A: What I like about this job is that it can take you all over the world – whether it’s museums, whale watching, abseiling down a cliff face or having dinner looking out over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Q: Why is studying important to get into this type of work?
A: This is a job with real autonomy – your boss may be 5000km away. So you need to have the skills to run a tour without any guidance. Whatever goes wrong, you have to deal with it, whenever it happens. Our course prepares us for this.
Q: What makes someone a ‘great’ guide?
A: Attitude and knowledge. You might repeat the same two-week itinerary 10 times, yet you have to be as fresh on the 10th as you were on the first. People are paying for an experience, they are taking time out from work – and are really looking forward to it. You need to ensure that everyone’s experience is the best it can be.