The South Coast Track is one of the Great Walks of Tasmania | Steve Trudgeon
Scotty O'Leary, our ever-so-cheerful Operations Manager. Scotty regularly drives our clients to and from trip entry and exit points, in addition to filling his time scouting new routes and organising the logistics for our expeditions. From his top tips of where to go in Tassie, to the highs (and lows) of his role, we sat down with Scotty to get an insight into the man behind our Tasmanian operations.
1. What does your role entail?
As Operations Manager my role is to ensure the smooth running of all the varying types of trips that we offer. A great part of my role is using my little crystal ball and anticipating what trips will likely run and working out and putting in place the logistics for each one. This is done months in advance so as to eliminate any potential problems that may arise. So this entails selecting appropriate guides and drivers, providing appropriate gear and food stocks, organising wilderness food drops (occasionally doing these myself), liaising with all the different subcontractors that Tas Ex relies on to make our adventure happen such as ferry operators, light planes, helicopters, yachts, kayaking companies, accommodation providers, hire vehicles, trains and even the occasional fishing boat! Another main focus for me is working with, advising and helping out our fantastic guiding staff who without we would have nothing to offer. And then there is the accounting for all our trips which is by far the best fun you can have other than sitting on a stinging ants nest.
2. What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time during our peak operating season between November and March is a rare commodity. But I do have quite a number of extra curricular interests which include kayaking, horse riding (trail riding that is, none of that fancy stuff..), exploring the amazing forests and valleys of the Great Western Tiers region which is basically my backyard and until very recently spending lots of adventure time with my beloved dog, Taj, who heartbreakingly passed away just a few weeks ago. Growing my own food is a big part of my life as I hate the ‘dead’ food that supermarkets tell us is healthy and fresh. Creating and working on landscaping projects is another way I like to spend time on my days off. Simple stuff but really satisfying. I also have a bit of an artistic soul and find a lot of meaning and purpose in creating music, drawing and painting and I am currently working on an illustrated childrens book which should be finished before I die...
3. If you could travel to anywhere in Tasmania for one week, where would it be and why?
Can I have nine days? If so I don’t think you can go past a trip down the Franklin River. I’ve travelled to some quite amazing places around the world but nothing has ever compared to the experience of a river journey on the Franklin. The peace, serenity and the scale of the natural beauty and adventure is unsurpassed. It really is a mentally, spiritually and totally immersive experience that reconnects one with the natural world. If you are reading this add it to the top of your bucket list!
4. When travelling to Tasmania, what are three things that travellers shouldn't miss?
Doing a trip with Tasmanian Expeditions of course! It really depends on the travellers' preferences, but for me it has to be nature based so I would say that # 1 would be visiting the Walls of Jerusalem is a must do, even if it was just for an extended day walk. #2 would be climbing Mt Ossa on a sunny day when you can almost see the whole state; the Bass Strait glistening to the North, all of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair World Heritage Area laid out before your eyes and the endless mountain ranges of the Southwest Wilderness receding into the distance. And # 3 would have to be a entire day spent at the Meander Falls Forest reserve which has a huge selection of absolutely stunning walks through ancient rainforests, alpine scenery and crystal clear waterfalls hidden amongst mossy grottos. 5. I am sure there are many – but what is Tasmania’s best kept secret? The thing about secrets is that you are not meant to tell...
6. What do you think travellers will find surprising when they visit Tasmania for the first time?
I often say to guests that coming to Tassie is like stepping back in time. The sense of urgency and rush that is so prominent in the modern world is not so pronounced down here. So everything is a little more laid back which I think is priceless and I hope it stays that way. Another thing that people find surprising is that there really is so much to see and do for a relatively small island and it can take a long time to get from one end of the state to the other.
7. How did you develop your love for adventure travel?
I was lucky enough to grow up in the Blue Mountains in NSW when I was very young. My love of nature and adventure was an inherent part of my being. I remember scaring the life out of my parents by disappearing into the bushland and canyons of the mountains when I was about five years old. It just seemed the natural thing to do to explore, study the plants and animals and be in tune with the land. Things haven’t really changed much, only now that no one worries when I go walkabout into the wild.
8. Your number one tip for people who want to see and travel through Tasmania?
Have plenty of cash on hand and fill your fuel tank up when you can. And always say ‘Thank You’ as a little politeness goes a long way.
9. What do you enjoy most about your role?
There are so many facets to my role and there is an equal balance of good and not so good but one of the main driving factors that keep me coming back is seeing the joy and happiness that so many of our clients are filled with at the end of their trips. And hearing first hand and from other feedback streams how inspiring, hardworking and wonderful our guides are. Equally when our guides get back from a trip and are absolutely buzzing with enthusiasm about how great their trip was, is pretty infectious and that gives me a great degree of enjoyment. If everyone is happy you know that you are doing your job well.
10. What do you most like about working with Tasmanian Expeditions?
The variety of situations I can find myself in. There is certainly an element of unpredictability and spontaneity in my role. One week we might be putting food drops into the South Coast Track, the next setting up a safari camp on Flinders Island and sleeping on top of a trailer on a stinky old barge to get gear over there. One day I might be plugging away sending and responding to emails and the next I might be flying in a helicopter over the TWWHA. And then the following day I might be driving a group up to Cradle Mountain to start the Overland Track and then back to the computer only to get a call to see if I could drive a bus from Tassie to Kakadu! It is endlessly surprising and the team I work with is exceptional; guides, management and the sales team all go above and beyond to make it a great place to be.
11. What’s next for Tasmanian Expeditions?
Every year we review our trips to see if and where we can improve any aspect that could do with refining or changing. We are constantly looking at new trips and developing itineraries to keep us relevant. I’m currently working on a ‘Great Tasmanian Traverse’ which will encapsulate 5-6 of our flagship trips and run them in consecutive order over the period of a little over a month. The idea is that someone could join some of these departures or choose to complete the whole endeavour starting at the top of Tassie and then bushwalking, rafting and flying down the length of the state to finish at Cockle Creek, which is almost as far south as you can go before swimming for Antarctica.