There is a beautiful Regent Bowerbird sitting in the Crow’s Ash tree outside my office window as I write my story and a Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove has just been and gone. It is raining again but that’s what happens when you live on the edge of a rainforest. ‘My’ rainforest is Lamington National Park , a world renowned bird watching and bush walking area and part of the World Heritage listed Gondwana Reserves of Australia. I came here about 25 years ago to work as a Guide at Binna Burra Mountain Lodge, a beautiful old lodge located at one of the entrances to the tracks of Lamington NP. For many years I had the privilege of sharing the park with guests from around the world. The forests and wildlife are rich in stories and I have come to know them intimately.
My passion for the area remains and I still lead groups into the park, mostly bird watchers and American university students these days but I will guide anyone who is interested in enjoying the park. The walking track system is one of the best of any national park in the world and has been improved further with the opening of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk.
Birds are my special interest and South-east Queensland is a hot-spot for birds especially in Lamington NP. I had the pleasure recently of tracking down a Rufous Scrub Bird, very elusive species that creeps around on the forest floor. It circled around in and out of my view, but only a few metres away, for about 5 minutes. It seemed to be a case of the watched, watching the watcher.
At Binna Burra I was also involved in adventure programmes such as abseiling and team building and I still maintain an interest in these activities. I have qualifications as an outdoor leader, abseiling instructor and workplace trainer and in vertical rescue and wilderness first aid as well as a science degree from many years ago.
In 2004 I decided it was time to leave the rainforest, take off the raincoat, put on the sunscreen and Akubra and utilize my skills as a Naturalist and Guide to explore the rest of Australia and beyond.
As Gondwana Guides I lead
walking and bird watching tours in all Australian mainland states, New Zealand and Norfolk Island . In 2008 I was one of the Naturalists on a Zegrahm Expeditions trip to PNG, the Solomons, Vanuatu and Fiji aboard the ‘Clipper Odyssey. ’ Since then I have lead two more tours to Papua New Guinea.
To keep me closer to home for some of the year I also do Environmental and Ecotourism Consulting, in association with other consultants, particularly, but not exclusively, in the fields of vegetation management, the flora, fauna and rehabilitation aspects of mining lease applications, interpretive signage, walking track design and ecotourism tour design and training.
As well as gaining 30 years of experience as a Guide, a Naturalist and Consultant, and exploring our wonderful country, I have also been lucky enough to win the following awards Binna Burra Staff Member of the Year in 1999, a Rotary Pride of Workmanship award in 2002, the prestigious Gold Coast Supreme Hospitality Award in 1993 and in 2005 and 2009 the Australian Ecotourism Association’s Australian EcoGuide of the Year.
Comments from Clients
“Thanks for a wonderful week on Norfolk . I have never been on such a multi-dimensional holiday before – history, flora, birds, scenic beauty and Philip island, which was quite a challenge but a wonderful experience.” Liane Heinke - Australia
“On behalf of Bob, Barbara, Jean and myself thanks again for a great day's birding with you- we really appreciated your efforts in getting the "missing" birds on our list.” Tom Gibbons - England
“So.... we loved our trip..... all the birding and people.....and the country....and and....
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE TRAVELS WITH US....” Mary and Will Pappenheimer - New York
“I hope you are doing well. I enjoyed the program so much in Australia, and the hikes and lectures at Lamington certainly were one of the highlights of my trip there. Thank you for all your work with us!” Jessica Alison, UGA, Georgia, USA
"I just wanted to thank you very much for what was the highlight of my recent Australian visit. It was not only the birds, but your knowledge and enjoyable company that made it this way. I surely will contact you again next time I am in the area." Jack Cochrane - USA
Barry was so helpful, considerate and patient ~ nothing was too much trouble! I liked the itinerary and thought it was good value for money.”
“A wonderful variety of activities.
Barry’s wonderful personality kept a happy atmosphere throughout the tour, and the little extras were greatly appreciated.”