Walking the talk – a tour guide’s perspective

Early in his working life, Campbell Read knew he wanted a career path that would allow him to indulge and explore his love of the natural environment. The starting point for this highly experienced and knowledgeable tour guide was a stint as an Outdoor Assistant at Perth’s Christ Church Grammar School.

Up next was a senior guiding job based at Ningaloo with plenty of kayaking, snorkelling and walking plus a season as a whale shark spotter and guide. Campbell considers the time he has spent in this coastal region helping people to access, enjoy and learn about this exceptional marine and terrestrial biodiversity as a career highlight.

Picture: Campbell Read, Inspiration Outdoors

His working life in the tour guiding sector of the tourism industry spans more than two decades and has taken him the length and breadth of Australia. For the past two and a half years he’s been a member of the team at Inspiration Outdoors, a WA-based company offering small group walking tours on some of Australia’s best trails.

“The Australian market for guided walking tours continues to expand,” Campbell says.

“Most of this market is servicing people who want fully guided tours that enable them to explore the wonders of our country on foot without having to worry about transport, accommodation, catering and other aspects.  In other words, an adventure that offers a degree of personal challenge as well as ensuring that walkers can enjoy their creature comforts.

“However, catering for groups and individuals who prefer and have the confidence to undertake self-guided walks, similar planning, logistical support and coordination is also available.

“Western Australia has some of the nation’s most outstanding walking trails, ranging from the dramatic landscapes of the Kimberley and Pilbara to the Coral Coast, Goldfields, South West and Lower South,” Campbell said. “Karijini National Park and Ningaloo are among my favourites.”

What qualities, then does a walking tour guide need to do this job well?

The obvious such as good planning, risk management and organisational skills, but in Campbell’s view it’s the people aspects and a passion for the environment that are paramount.

“As well as the opportunity to see so much of Australia, I feel fortunate to have met so many interesting people who share my enthusiasm for the wonders of our natural environment,” he said.

“It’s a lifestyle full of interest, friendships forged and great memories.

“Rewarding, too. I’ll always remember the horrified expression on the face of a well-known female politician at the prospect of erecting her own sleeping quarters on day one of our tour. At tour end, the first thing she planned to do was buy a tent!