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What is the difference between a good tour guide and a great tour guide?

Dec 14, 2015 -- Posted by : admin

Taking a closer look at this year’s Golden Guide Award Winner - Brian Lee

Today’s travellers have such individual perceptions of good and bad tour experiences, that - trying to define a list of ‘top tour guide’ characteristics leaves us paddling endless tides of ‘variables’. So let’s just focus on the highlights - the ‘glitter’ that catches our eyes as our journey with Brian unfurls. 

Brian Lee’s Hunters Creek Tagalong Tour takes small groups of self-drive visitors on an explorative journey into the turquoise seascapes of Hunters Creek. The area is rich in stories of the history, culture and lifestyle of the local Bardi people, of the white settlers and a variety of natural treasures, flora and fauna.

As we start the tour, our first impression is that we feel relaxed and comfortable with our guide, and we quickly recognise that we are not part of a ‘standard’ itinerary - we are special guests and our tour will be ‘styled’ in line with our individual aspirations. 

One of Brian’s main agendas – which threads the events of our day – is to constantly interact and get to know his tour guests. But he is not doing this as ‘a routine part of the job’, his depth of engagement reflects a genuine interest in each and every one of the people on his tour - and his natural, non-invasive approach signifies a strong empathy.  

The main focus of this tour is to share knowledge, not just by pointing things out – it is largely portrayed through a selection of local stories - and to extend an opportunity to immerse in the local Bardi culture. As we venture through today’s journey, we are stopping here and there, discovering hidden treasures we would not have seen without our guide, and gaining a better understanding of his fascinating and uniquely rich perspective of the country. 

Brian’s stories are beautifully crafted with a strong sense of passion and pride. The information is authentic – delivered first hand by a traditional custodian who has a deep, personal connection to his country and heritage. A guest described this very aptly “I have done Brian’s tours a few times now and love it more and more every time . . . his wealth of knowledge and cultural richness . . . he always has me walking away feeling uplifted and very privileged to have shared a small slice of his world”. 

The number of (tagalong) vehicles is limited to 10, allowing for a maximum of 25 guests, to ensure an interactive, personalised experience. The tours commence at 8.30 am and return at approximately 2.30 pm - but this is often later, as Brian is an extremely engaging guide who is willing to invest additional time to elaborate on information and activities. 

Another key highlight is the variety of ‘hands-on’ interaction opportunities. These can be flexibly tailored in line with our preferences. Guests are encouraged to try their hand at traditional hunting and fishing, discover the local flora and taste the ‘catch of the day’ – which usually includes mud crab, cooked in a traditional way on an open fire on the banks of the creek. An interactive tour leaves a much stronger footprint in our ‘take home’ stories and memories – as Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”.    

And the landscape itself should not go amiss on our list of highlights. The area, abundant with natural attractions, portrays a powerful feeling of space and solitude – all richly coloured with turquoise waters, white sand and pindan cliffs. In the interest of environmental and cultural protection, Hunters Creek is closed to the general public. Brian operates his tours as a tagalong concept, ensuring that guests follow in his tracks, and that this pristine environment retains its unspoiled magic for many years to come. 

Last but not least – a quote from Brian: “I am a Bardi man and this country has been home to my people for tens of thousands of years. We are proud saltwater people. It is my privilege to be able to share the stories of my people and our beautiful home with visitors from around the country and all over the world”.


The FACET Golden Guide Award  is presented annually by the Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco Tourism.
Good interpretation is essential for successful tour guiding and ensuring the visitor is left with a memorable experience. FACET believes it is important to acknowledge those guides who are leading the way in offering visitors an authentic and enriching experience.

In 1998 FACET’s deputy chair, Colin Ingram initiated the idea and FACET developed this into the FACET Golden Guide Award. Colin said, “ What inspired me with this idea, was seeing other industries recognise their staff at the coalface, whereas the tourism industry awards were mainly focused on the businesses. It appeared to me that the most important people where those that were delivering the tourism experience directly to the customer, and yet there was no formal recognition to reward those that were extraordinary”.


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