Lap of Tassie Tour operator
Hi Greg, what is the name of your tour? Where are you located? What do you offer as a product?
I run the Lap of Tassie tour. It's based in Tasmania. We offer a 5 day small group adventure which runs all around Tasmania, starting and finishing in Hobart.
What age demographic usually travels on your tours?
It's between 18 to about 40. It's the youngest groups that you get in Tasmania. We attract mostly backpackers, rather than couples or older travellers.
Would you still accept older travellers, People who are young at heart?
We don't restrict it. We just tell people if you go with us, then this is what your typical traveller is going to be. Most of them have been traveling solo, most of them 18 to 40, 18 to 35 really. If that's the kind of people you're happy to go traveling with, then more than welcome .
Do you offer a range of pick-up and drop-off locations? What is the average pick-up and drop-off time?
We usually have pick-ups over about a half-hour period, from 7:30 to 8:00. There's multiple pick-ups all around the place. Essentially, everywhere in Hobart is within maybe 200 meters of a pick-up point.
When it comes to food, the groups team up to have a barbecue or they get some fish at the salmon farm on one day, and then they have a picnic at Bay of Fires the next day. There's plenty of opportunities for clients to try the awesome local tassie produce whilst on our tour.
So most hostels and hotels are located in the CBD area?
Definitely, For example we have a pick-up at a place called The Pickled Frog in Hobart. There's three other hostels within about 50 metres of it, so they all go to the one pick up point. We also do an airport pick-up and drop-off occasionally, its is $25 for an Airport pick up and if you would like a drop off at the airport on the last day we go past there on the way into Hobart about 5:30pm so any flight from 7pm or later is ok to book on day 5 and it's free.
What are some things to bring or have prepared before arriving on your tour?
It's a good idea to bring clothes for all conditions really, because on the tour we go across the West Coast and we're at Cradle Mountain, which is way up in the mountains and it can be chilly any time of year. Then, you get across the East Coast and you’ll be on the beach, and it'd be 30 degrees in summertime so be prepared for everything. Definitely sun cream as well. People don't realize how extremely sunny it is in Tassie.
What kind of training do your guides receive and how experienced are they?
We have our own in-house training and there's really detailed intern notes that they learn from. They'll go with an experienced guide on a tour, and then they'll have a tour where it's just them training with a guide. Then, they'll go on an actual tour with passengers to see how it goes in practice. They have to have remote area first aid training, have to have public passenger vehicle training and also a light rigid bus licence. I like them to be from Tasmania as well, because I like them to be able to tell stories about growing up, this is where we went camping or their own slant on it.
More of the local feel.
That's right, I think that's authentic. I don't think if you go to Queensland and there's an American guy as a tour guide, probably doesn't help the authenticity.
What qualifications, certificates or awards has your company obtained?
We got the Green Tick Accreditation, so that's under ATAP. That's just basically showing that you can run a quality operation. We have won the Golden Backpack Awards five times for the best tour in Tasmania. Won the Telstra Business Award for best micro-business in Tasmania, and we won best tour and transport operator at the Tasmanian Tourism Awards last year.
Fantastic! What type of vehicle does your company offer the guests to travel in?
We offer small vans, like 13-seaters, and then we offer buses that are like 20 to 25 seaters depending on numbers. All of vans whether small or large will have all the mod cons such as air conditioning/ heating, tinted windows and comfortable seats.
How many people usually travel on your tour?
We usually, say, average about 10 across the year. This week, it's middle of winter, we got eight people on the tour that left today. In summer, from about Boxing Day, 26th of December to 26th of January, basically everything's full to the max.
If you're looking to come over the summer period to Tassie (December to February), booking in advance would be a good option?
Yes, definitely. We have bookings out to April next year at the moment. It might fill up for January so being organised will for sure save disappointment.
Is food included or available to purchase on your tour? If so, what are the options? Do you cater for travellers with dietary requirements?
We're a self-catering tour, so that works really well for people with dietary requirements. They can get their own stuff. Basically that means they can either eat out or buy their own food and cook for themselves along the way. We've got kitchen facilities at all of our accommodation. Often, the groups team up to have a barbecue or they get fish at the salmon farm on one day, and then they have it for a picnic at Bay of Fires the next day. There a plenty of opportunities for clients to try the awesome local tassie produce whilst on our tour.
Can you run me through an itinerary of what a client will experience on your tour?
The five day Lap of Tassie tour, That was always designed to be like a lap, so it goes in a loop around, starts and finishes in Hobart. Do three days up the West Coast and then two days down the East Coast. It's two totally different sides, like West Coast is all rainforest, mountains, waterfalls, things like that. You go to Mount Field National Park and Cradle Mountain and places like that. It's a lot more focused on the wilderness side of things.
Then, you go, after that, you're going across the top to Launceston. Stay one night in Launceston, and then it's onto the East Coast for two days as well. East Coast is white sandy beaches and you go to Wineglass Bay, Bicheno to see the little penguins, go to Kate's Berry Farm, taste some berries and ice cream. So it's pretty well-rounded sort of tour.
What sort of accommodation can people expect on the Lap of tassie?
We've basically got three levels. The basic level is dorm room, and you can choose either mixed dorms or female-only ones. Since it's just backpacker hostel style you bring your own towel for example, but you don't need to worry about linen and stuff like that. From there on, you can go up to a hostel double or twin, which is basically you've got your own room but you still have a shared bathroom. Then, there's motel-style as well, which is private room with private bathroom . That works for all different levels of travellers.
Are there any extra costs or optional extras to be aware of or to be prepared for?
There's only the wildlife sanctuary visit. We have that as an optional thing on the last day of the five day tour. That costs $20. It's a discounted price because we're a group, so we pass that onto the guests. Apart from that, just being aware that the food's not included so they need to pay for that too. That's about it.
When is the best time of year to travel on your product?
I'd say if you want to have the best of the waterfalls and stuff like that, then it's September, sort of springtime. All the snow on the mountains in the Highlands melts and comes down the waterfalls and goes nuts. Then, winter's good if you want to see something like Cradle Mountain with snow on it obviously. Summertime can be super busy, so it's a good time to be there weather-wise, but it's also most expensive for flights and accommodation and stuff like that.
It just depends. If you want to have it a bit more to yourself, then go the shoulder period, September, October and May, June sort of thing.
Do you have a high and low season? If so, how far in advance should you be booking to secure a spot on the tour?
Yeah, we do have high and low season. We have more departures in summer obviously. In the highest season, like January, you probably want to book at least a month in advance, I'd say, if you want to make sure you get exactly the date you want. If you're a bit more flexible, then you can probably go a few weeks out.
Is there any other tips or advice or anything that we've missed that you would suggest to travellers?
I'd say make sure you leave some time, either before or after the tour, to see stuff in Hobart. That tour's designed to get you to all the places that are hard to get to. We assume that people have already seen everything in Hobart, so we don't see anything in it itself. Definitely I recommend rocking up so you've got a spare Saturday in Hobart, so you can Salamanca market. You can go to Mona on the ferry from the waterfront there as well. I'd just say don't try and rush it too much. There's a lot to see. We're covering 1,500 kilometres in our long tour, so it's a bit bigger than people realize, I think, when they look at it on the map versus the rest of the country.
I suppose the tour guide will be telling people a lot of stuff on the tour as well for what to do in Hobart when they get back. If people are flying straight out, then they may feel like they're missing out.
Oh definitely. That's what happens a lot. We've never had anyone say, "I wish I had less time." We always have people say, "I wish I'd given more time." That's really important. Yeah, like you suggested, probably best to have it at the end. You find out so much stuff that the more stuff you want to see during the tour, so just give yourself a bit of time to be able to take advantage of that.
Any funny stories from a tour that you'd like to share with our clientele?
We've had a few funny stories over the years. We had a group of guys from Saudi Arabia came on the tour once. They basically hadn't been in a country where you could drink before. They went crazy, and we lost them in Launceston and eventually found them. There was one in a wheelie bin, asleep. There was another one asleep, he's sitting on the toilet, using the toilet roll as a pillow. They wouldn't wake up. Even me yelling at them, they didn't wake up. I got some big pots and pan lids in the kitchen and went in there, "All right boys. Let's go. It's time to get up." They eventually got on, and then they probably went to sleep on the aisle of the bus. They couldn't sit in a seat, so they just laid down the middle. It was pretty loose in those days.