By guest Mindy Armstrong, Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
I’m a two time visitor to both Sydney and Royal Coast Walks and I’ll be back for round three to find out what new tours Royal Coast Walks has to offer. Why? The answer is quite simple: Ian and Tara Wells.
My first tour was back in June 2009. I signed up for a day tour online prior to my departure out of the U.S. As it turned out, no one else signed up for the day so it ended up being a private tour. Anyone else would have cancelled because they required a minimum number of customers or asked me for additional money to do a private tour. Ian didn’t cancel on me and he didn’t ask for more money. He said we were on no one else’s schedule and it was my day to determine how long we stayed in the park. That was when I knew I was a loyal customer and I’d be back for another tour.
Ian’s passion for Royal National Park and the intimate knowledge that he has of the area, including the archaeological history of aborigines that remains carefully preserved throughout the park, was the highlight of my day. He’s no amateur that picked up a book one day and read an article on Royal National Park. He’s a local of the Sutherland Shire. Ian provides a window into the soul of Sydney that is never seen within the city limits. Don’t take my word for it; the tours speak for themselves.
December 2010 I returned just after Christmas. This time I was on the Wattamolla tour. I stayed on Ian’s heels on what I considered the most difficult part of the hike, which were some natural rock stairs that we hiked. Some of these stairs seemed to be half my height and were at a pretty steep incline. The irony of me keeping Ian’s pace is I’m only 1.57 metres (5 feet 1 inches). I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the stair climb was brutal at times. I’m a pretty fit person and I love a physical challenge so it was well worth it.
After a long day’s hike we got to our private camp site. This is when our group met Tara. She had just finished setting up camp for us. Ian told us after she left that he was planning on proposing soon. Shortly after that tour, Tara was Ian’s fiancé and soon to be Mrs Wells.
I was the first person up the following morning, about 5:00 a.m. As far as I was concerned, it was still the dark of night. I couldn’t see an arm’s length in front of me. My only companions were the stars, the ocean and a slight breeze. What else is there to do before sunrise than meditate? When I finished meditating I captured one of the best sunrises on camera I’ll probably ever see in my life time.
Later that day we reached Otford and completed our two day hike in the summer heat; our group had bragging rights.
If I may offer a bit of advice, if you choose to take a tour during the summer stay hydrated and remember to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. I’m an experienced international traveler and the Australian summer sun is definitely some of the most brutal heat I’ve experienced. You will get tired at times.
See you next time Royal Coast Walks. Here’s to great times, great tours and great tales.
Thanks Mindy! Such kind words and a pleasure to have you join us.
If you’d like to contribute your experience to Travel Tales, simply email us with a few words and pictures from your tour. Cheers, Tara.