The sketch that turned into a lifelong adventure
Tasmanian local tour guide Craig Williams reveals the most underestimated place in the Apple Isle.
I’m sixth generation Tasmanian, and my son, Ben, is seventh. I started as a wildlife guide more than 20 years ago. It was by accident when the local council asked if I’d sketch a vista of the north-east from the top of The Sideling, a track and lookout near Scottsdale. While I was on the roadside trying to do the sketch, people kept stopping to ask, “What bird is that?” or “What tree is that?” Someone asked if I was a tour guide and I said, “No I’m just trying to do a sketch”. By the time I drove back home to Scottsdale I’d made up my mind to start my own company, Pepper Bush Adventures.
I’ve been guiding for two decades now but in the last few years it has become a family business with my son, who also has a passion for nature. We can run separate tours and meet up at our bush hut at the end of the day, swap stories, have some tucker and watch the wildlife. You’re guaranteed to see six species before putting your glass of wine down!
Our clients are looking for real experiences so every tour is private. We focus on different species other than just the Tasmanian devil: the platypus, quolls, bandicoots, pademelon… I’ve seen 13 species in one day, which is unheard of in the rest of Australia.
I was born on the south side of Ben Lomond mountain at Mathinna and moved to Scottsdale on the northern side when I was 10 years old. I’ve spent all my life in the bush; wandering, sleeping under the stars, living off the land, watching nature. My grandfather, uncles and my father were all bushmen and I learnt how to trap from a young age.
Ben Lomond’s surrounds is one of the most underestimated places in Tasmania. It has stunning geological landscapes, from Jurassic dolerite to granite and sandstone – and very few people. On our tours, we go up through the Roses Tier and the old growth forests where you’ll hardly ever see another vehicle. You get to see the real Tasmania.
I’ve been doing tours through here for so long but until recently it had never crossed my mind to go up the mountain while it was raining. It was the most amazing sight, seeing the water running off Ben Lomond. The whole mountain turns into a series of waterfalls.
I never tire of my own backyard. I think it’s the best in the world.
See the Jetstar article here – Published April 2019 – The sketch that turned into a lifelong adventure