Day in the life of… Bridget Lawton on the Contiki Daintree Experience
The Daintree Rainforest boasts heritage and natural beauty; with ancient ferns, vibrant canopies and winding waterways just waiting to be uncovered. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest is considered one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Australia, with David Attenborough calling it the ‘most extraordinary place on earth.’
On Contiki’s North Queensland Adventure, travellers have the chance to explore the lush rainforest and learn of local Aboriginal culture on an unforgettable day trip led by a First Nations Driver Guide, Bridget Lawton.
Part of our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® experiences, we’ll take you on a discovery of the wonders of this dreamlike landscape as Bridget brings to life the most impressive sights and stories of the Daintree. You’ll be welcomed to the land with a traditional smoking ceremony before exploring the Mossman Gorge with a guide, learning stories of the local Kuku Yalanji people. Later, you’ll take a traditional art class and hear Dreamtime stories at Janbal Gallery.
Here, we chat to Bridget about the incredible Contiki Daintree Experience and what it takes to be a tour guide in this spectacular corner of the world.
How do you begin your day?
I’m up early with a cuppa, toast and a little quiet time before my day starts. I’ll get myself ready and usually head off to work anywhere between 5:30 – 7:00 am, depending on what work I have on. Once I’m there I check into our Covid App, do a random breath test as a driver, speak to Operations staff who have my paperwork, then perform my vehicle checks and paperwork. Then I’m off to collect my first guests for the day!
What’s a typical tour like for you?
The duties I perform change daily depending on what job I have on but an important and everyday part of my role is to transport guests safely on our coaches.
On a day tour, I start by collecting guests from their accommodation. I provide commentary and information on the areas we’re travelling through as well as ensuring guests are comfortable and informed about our itinerary throughout the day. Something I personally do on all tours is acknowledge the traditional custodians and their Elders, past, present and future of the country we travel through and visit. Sometimes, I conduct guided walks, deliver guests to other tour operators for experiences, or take them for lunches, meals and other activities. And of course, deliver them safely back to their accommodation, with hopefully some great memories of the day.
I usually get home somewhere between 6 – 7 pm. I’ll typically prepare some dinner, get my stuff organised for the next day, then spend some time with the kids and my partner. I’m studying full-time online at the moment, so sometimes I might do some study in the evening before getting a good night’s sleep in prep for the next day.
What’s the best part of your day?
I love the diverse people I get to meet in my Job. I love teaching them a little about our region and cultures, and I always learn something from them as well.
What’s the most challenging part of your day?
Often the unexpected things that pop up are the most challenging ones. Traffic hold ups or, in Far North Queensland, the weather for example – lots of cyclones and heat!
Tell us about your most memorable work moment…
A moment that stands out to me was a day when I was dropping my guests back to their accommodation. They were quite emotional and expressed how the day they’d spent with myself and the local Traditional Owners had touched them deeply, and really given them an insight into our culture. They said how our tour had changed the way they see Australia – not just as a beautiful landscape, but as a cultural landscape with an amazing history. It felt really special to know I was part of their memories. I was very moved.
Image source: Contiki
What skills do you have that led to you being a tour guide?
I’m an avid traveller and have travelled much of outback Australia over the years. I’m also a mum to two teenage boys – this gives you great life skills, something I can apply to my job working with lots of different people! Plus, I love our region and have an interest in cultures, environments and history. I’m passionate about all of this and really enjoy sharing what I know with visitors to the region.
What do you think are the top three skills you need to do this job well?
Patience, the ability to work with a diverse range of people, plus good people and time management skills.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to do what you do?
I’d recommend going along on some tours to see if it’s something you’d really like to do, then study and upgrade your knowledge.
What else might you have liked to do if it wasn’t this job?
I love our natural environment so I could see myself as a National Parks Ranger!