What's like to be a bushwalking guide
INTERVIEW SOFIA FORTUNATO
PHOTOS ABSOLUTE AIRLIE
Hi Gill, can you tell us a bit about you and why did you decide to settle in the Whitsundays?
My family and I came from the UK 19 years ago and had some knowledge of this area having been before. Our children were 10 and 12 and we wanted to move somewhere that would give a safe and opportunistic life for us all that was completely different. Airlie Beach people were so friendly and laid back, there were good schools, the fabulous weather, awesome wildlife and a wonderful lifestyle. It ticked all the boxes.
Being in nature all day for work sounds amazing. What is like to be a tourist guide?
I have always been in love with the outdoors and with the bush and rainforest as my office, it couldn’t get any better. Every day is different with nature and I am very proud to show the guests our beautiful backyard plus I get to meet so many interesting people .
You have lived for a long time in the Whitsundays, what are your top 3 places to go hiking in this region and why?
Mount Rooper as it pushes you a bit on the uphill but with the magnificent views over Shute Harbour and an array of wild and plant life it is worth it. Swamp Bay trail is an easy path through bush and forest, over creeks with a beach at the end. It is not a hard walk and is very doable for the less agile and young children. Brandy Creek is my favourite as there are so many points to stop but no matter how far in you go there is always something to see. Come rain or shine it is alive and full of wildlife and has quite a lot of history.
What recommendations would you give to parents visiting the area when exploring the forest?
Before going off trekking look at the weather. It is a region of extremes and some walks can be slippery when wet. Choose the hike that is most suitable for that day and make sure they take plenty of sunscreen and water. Our sun is harsh in summer and keeping hydrated is essential.Also to be careful of what they touch as we have some plants are very poisonous so it is best to go with a local.
What sort of adventures does Absolute Airlie offer to families with children?
Absolute Airlie can cater their tours for all ages. Private tours are an option for up to 10 people and each tour we make sure that we go at the pace of the slowest walker to make sure nobody misses out.Children are encouraged to closely examine things which often they will never have seen or heard of before and we are happy to give out fun fact sheets for them to tick off on the way . Teaching them about nature is so important and enjoyable.
Can you explain what an eco-experience is all about?
To me it is all about experiencing nature at it’s best and most natural state. Everyone comes away having gained some knowledge which should help them understand why we need to protect our environment and to know how we can all help.
Any thoughts on why do you think it's important to take children to explore nature?
In a day of technology which is unavoidable children need to learn about the simple things beginning with nature. From Community Gardens to bush walks they need to know how to plant, grow, respect, protect and to understand how if left alone nature looks after nature . Children who are going to be the next generation need all the help they can get to stop too much damage being done in the future.