Tour Guide Tips
By Damian Phelps
When traveling I have often been caught out building expectations, expecting to see amazing sights, do incredible things and have the best experience anyone has ever had in the history of the world. Occasionally something close to that actually happens and I have been very fortunate with some of the things I have enjoyed. However often its not the case and the hype (usually my own) doesn’t match the reality.
I experienced this lesson when visiting the Daintree forest in far north Queensland Australia. Pristine wilderness, one of the oldest forest in the world with a much touted plethora of wildlife to visually feast on. I was looking for Cassowaries, crocodiles, marsupials, bigfoot, you name it I thought I was going to see it. After a couple of days in different sections of the forest I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. Nothing. No crocs, no kangaroos and certainly no bigfoot. I couldn’t understand what had gone wrong and why I had been so unlucky on this particular trip.
Many, many years later and after much hard work I became a ranger for Queensland wildlife on the Gold Coast (Australia). It was then that it finally dawned on me what had gone wrong all those years earlier during my visit to the Daintree. The Daintree much to my relief was not broken. One of the roles of a ranger is track work, making sure that the tracks meet expectations of those using them, ensuring they are passable and that they are safe. Every day you would walk out on track and get to work.
Whilst out there you would meet visitors to the park out for some sightseeing and a bit of adventure. With out fail they would look you in the eye and say “have you seen anything”! They are in the middle of 30 000ha of world heritage wilderness and want to know if we have seen anything. Feel familiar?
I knew exactly what they meant. Where was the T-Rex, had I seen any unicorns and which way was it to bigfoot’s cave?
Excitedly we (the rangers on site) would pull out our phones with photos of just what we had seen, or tell stories of how if you keep an eye out you might see one of these! The visitors would look at us unconvinced and a little disappointed then continue on their way.
I could not tell you the number of times visitors to the park would walk within 2 feet of a 10 foot python or a rare bird for example, whilst rushing through the forest to see something good.
I can’t say I can blame them after confessing to exactly the same behaviour when I was young. It is very much the case of can’t see the forest for the trees.
I guess that is the point of this little tale. Firstly consider your expectations when going anywhere. Have an open mind and embrace what you do get to see. If you have an encounter with some fantastic beast then woohoo, if not let it go and open your eyes and ears. Many of the creatures in the forest have learned to survive by avoiding humans in the first place, so consider that when trying to find them.
Which is the second point. Take your time look and listen and you will be truly amazed by what may present itself to you. Stand still for a moment, don’t yell out when walking along a track, put some space between you and other visitors (often you will see an animal on the run after the first group has gone past).
Lamington National Park in southeast Queensland (about an hour west of the Gold Coast) has thousands of species of birds, reptiles, marsupials, insects and fungus spread throughout its diverse rainforest. It even has glow in the dark fungus! All it takes to enjoy what it has to offer is a change of focus to what is sometimes right next to you rather than 100 metres down the track and the willingness to look for it and the desire to find it.
Remember it the little things.
Paradise Tours http://www.paradisetours.com.au/ provide full day tours to Lamington National Park from 2 to 6 people only. Making sure there is enough time to enjoy what this incredible location has to offer. For more information regarding this particular tour please visit http://www.paradisetours.com.au/gold-coast-lamington-national-park-tour/.
One final thought. If you don’t get to see the thing you were looking for, go back and look for it another day. You just never know what the forest will surprise you with.