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Australian Hand-Crafted Journeys

Top 5 Private Guides in Australia

BLOG | The key to any great experience is a great guide; a truly great guide will make the seemingly simple come to life. The best guides make you feel an instant affinity with them and welcome you like an old friend and put you at ease from the moment you meet them.

The common thread that excellent personal guides have is that they are passionate and are a fountain of local knowledge and information. These guides know just the right questions to ask to find out exactly what you like and don’t and what your interests are then able tailor the tour on the fly to make sure you have the best possible time. An excellent guide will make the difference between a good and great experience. If your budget allows always get a great guide without exception!

Here are my top 5 in no particular order:

1. David Armbrust – Australian Natural History Safaris – Daintree

When you have been fortunate enough to do as many tours as I have and you recall one of those tours above all others you know it is something special. David is the closet thing I have ever met to a real life Dr Dolittle. At his property Thylogale in the Daintree Rainforest of Far North Queensland, David takes a maximum of 4 people only, on a day to remember. The tour begins with a walk through his forest and from the very start it is “different”. When I did the tour we had only walked about 20 metres when a bird flew out of the forest and landed on his shoulder, – this was a definite “oh my god” moment! Then the forest seemed to come to life with wallabies, musky rat kangaroos and a myriad of birds as they came to visit their old friend David. David told me how he had sat quietly in the forest every day for almost 2 years to accustom the animals to him and now these wild creatures see him as part of the furniture. If you are travelling to the Cairns region and have even only a passing interest in the natural world you MUST do this as it will not be forgotten – imagine a cross between Sir David Attenborough, Dr Dolittle and David Suzuki and that is what you will get.

2. Craig Wickham Exceptional Kangaroo Island – Kangaroo Island

Craig is an ex Park Ranger born and bred on Kangaroo Island with an immense passion for the island. Craig has been operating his company Exceptional Kangaroo Island since 1990 and almost single-handedly put the island on the map as Australia’s Galapagos. Craig set the benchmark with his tour company in Australia and has been providing the best wildlife based private tours for over 20 years. I think what makes Craig’s operation special (and I have done about 20 tours with him) is the fact that every detail is so well thought through, from the training of his guides, reference books, vehicles, to the food, beverages and most importantly the itinerary. Craig’s company offers private access and many behind the scenes opportunities only a local could show you. If you want to see Australian wildlife in its natural habitat with a guide that is expertly informed and highly passionate – this tour is a must. Great Food and wine are also part of the deal and the surprise bush lunches are always a crowd pleaser. And if you are fortunate you will have Craig himself guide you (although all the other guides are great) and share his enthusiasm for his home.

3. Craig Williams Pepper Bush Adventures – Tasmania

Craig Williams is what you expect an “Aussie” to be – a down to earth good bloke! Craig just loves Tasmania and is a wildlife aficionado. His wildlife focussed evening quoll patrol is one of the finest one day wildlife adventures available in the country and you see many rare and hard to find Australian marsupials. Craig is a guide that thinks outside the box and always takes his guests on adventures and sights that the average person would not even think of. He has a highly engaging sense of humour and is devotee of Tasmanian cuisine and his bush dinners with native ingredients are always a major hit with guests. The most outstanding element of Craig’s tours is their highly personalised nature and his ability to connect with people of all backgrounds. Anyone seeking an insiders view of Tasmania with a true local who can get you really behind the scenes – this is your man. A trip to his exclusive wilderness concession of 300,000 acres in the north eastern corner of the island state is a must.

4. Sab Lord – Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris – Kakadu and Arnhemland

One thing is for sure there is only one Sab Lord (I am saying this in the nicest possible way) he is the quintessential Aussie. Sab was raised on Munmalary Station which is now part of Kakadu National Park and is a proud Territorian from birth with strong links to and a deep understanding of the local Aboriginal people. His highly personalised approach opens the door to the world’s oldest living culture. Sab has unrivalled access to some of the most stunning regions of Australia including Arnhemland and his knowledge of the breathtaking aboriginal rock art galleries of the Top End is unmatched. Sab’s unique approach gives the traveller an unrivalled insight into this ancient land. Sab took me to an ancient Tamarind forest (that felt like it had no place being there) planted by Moccasin trader’s centuries ago and it was a surreal experience as he explained how the traders harvested sea cucumber from the nearby ocean and camped in this spot for hundreds of years. Personally this is one of my favourite tours and guest feedback matches the claims. If you are looking for a real life Australian safari in some of the most spectacular Outback wilderness on the planet with the fascinating history of the world’s oldest surviving culture thrown in – then this is one to savour!

5. Grant Charlesworth – Australian Luxury Escapes – Sydney

Grant is a natural with clients and knows Sydney backwards. Again it is the passion for his home city that makes the difference. Whether it is going above and beyond by arranging a private beach bbq which included his own family and kids on the northern beaches with jet skis, beach cricket and kayaks or private tour of the Opera House nothing is too much trouble. Grant will tailor for us any experience you may seek in Sydney and make sure that you get an insiders guide to the Harbour city. This level of personalisation makes the difference when you only have a short amount time. Not only can you see the highlights of Sydney but get a first hand view from a local about what it is like to live in Sydney. With so much to do and see in Australia’s most famous city it is essential to have a well-informed local to show you and there is few more equipped to do that than Grant. A must do is a private sail on the harbour sipping a glass of chilled glass of wine and taking in the magnificent Harbourside mansions and views.

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Sweeping aerial of Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s East Coast

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Australian Hand-Crafted Journeys

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