On 27 and 28 November, thirty tour guides from across the region converged on Cairns Tropical Zoo, Cattana Wetlands and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, for the bi-annual Wet Tropics Field School.
Prior to attending the field school, twenty tour guides participated in the new direct delivery course at the Wet Tropics Management Authority offices, replacing the formal online course offered previously. Trainers Russell Boswell from Savanah Guides and Terry Carmichael from the Wet Tropics Management Authority briefed participants on the flora, fauna and landscapes of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and in the delivery of tour commentaries.
On Friday 27 November, zoo keepers at the Cairns Tropical Zoo provided an informative presentation on reptiles and a spectacular free flight birds show.
Wet Tropics Management Authority senior project officer, Terry Carmichael said, “It was very impressive to see such a wonderful bird show where the presenters not only had to worry about delivering their very well structured talk but also the behaviour of the birds themselves.”
Friday was wrapped up with a visit to Pandanus Gallery, Palm Cove. The gallery sells indigenous art and displays a diverse range of Aboriginal styles reflecting culture, law and the Dreaming. Paul La Fontaine, owner of Pandanus Gallery, emphasised the importance of dealing fairly and openly with Indigenous artists.
The second day of the field school was kicked off with an early morning bird watching lesson by Ivor Davis of Savannah Guides at Cattana Wetland and the opportunity for everyone to practice their birdwatching skills. Ivor instructed the group on binocular use, how to select the bird field guide that suits you and the basics of bird watching.
Later in the day, Denis the head dancer at Tjapukai, led participants on an insightful journey through the iconic Tjapukai cultural experience.
Mr Carmichael explained, “Participants learnt about Tjapukai’s (Djabugay) cultural stories, witnessed a fabulous contemporary creation story, and observed dances and didgeridoo playing.
“They also enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch and heard about the use of bush foods and medicines,” Mr Carmichael added.
As with previous schools, this field school contributed to the ongoing professional development of tour guides, visitor centre staff, educators and other public contact personnel in the tourism sector. The aim of the field schools is to build tourism industry knowledge of the World Heritage Area and its values in order to help participants enhance the experiences of visitors to the region.
Meeting like-minded new and old friends, and sharing and networking are very important elements of the overall guide school experience.
The Wet Tropics Tour Guide Field School is a collaborative partnerhip delivered by the Wet Tropics Management Authority and Savannah Guides.
Find out more information about the Tour Guide Program here