The Coffs harbour ambassadors programs are a great initiative by our council to help locals and visitors get to know the region’s natural environment. Kevin Starkey is one of the passionate ambassadors, and he tells us more about his experience with the program.
Give us some background on the Coffs Ambassadors programs.
Coffs Ambassadors are volunteer guides who run tours of areas they know, and they love to help visitors and locals get the most out of our wonderful region.
There is a team of eight Coffs Ambassadors, and we receive thorough training and support from both the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coffs Harbour City Council, to make sure the tour experience we provide is informative, safe and thoroughly enjoyable.
> How long have you been involved, and what do you love about it?
I first heard about the Ambassadors program through a friend, who had read about it in the paper – and that it was starting soon. My friend Greg Stevens asked if I would be interested in participating in the program with him, and I agreed. This was back in 2009 and has turned out to be the best move I’ve made.
I have always been a passionate man when it comes to Aboriginal culture, and now being able to bring this passion and knowledge to the wider public, add a love for the environment, and you have the ingredients for an enjoyable experience in the outdoors, with education and a better understanding of reconciliation (a shared experience).
> We hear you gained employment because of your role as an Ambassador. Tell us about this journey.
The Ambassadors underwent training, which was supplied by NPWS, Coffs City Council and Marine Parks. The coverage of all aspects of tour delivery was extremely educational and enjoyable. Upon the completion of my training for the Ambassadors, we (Greg Stevens) and I conceived our own interpretive tour of Woolgoolga Lake and began our delivery of the tour – which has turned out to be quite successful.
After being involved for approximately 9 months, I noticed there was a job on offer at NPWS as a Discovery Ranger, and there was also an opening for an Aboriginal identified position. This seemed to fit perfectly, for I had just been trained in exactly this field. So I applied for the position and was successful.
> What Ambassador programs will be running this year?
There are a number of different tours on offer, ranging from bike tours, river walks, beach walks and cultural. All are accessible through the Coffs City Council websites.
The Ambassadors program is a great idea that can gather people from all reaches of the coast, consolidate this knowledge, design a tour and offer the experience to the wider community.
There is a wealth of knowledge out there; the Ambassadors tap into this and give people the tools to turn this into an enjoyable and educational activity for all to enjoy.
> What is the walk you are in charge of? Give us a bit of info about it.
The tour Greg Stevens and I offer is the Woolgoolga Lake Tour, which takes in the aspects of the lake and its marine life and habits, bush tucker, medicine and Aboriginal culture, as well as the local history of its ship wreck, The Buster.
The walk is only 1 km long and takes only 1 ½ hours and is an easy to medium grade walk that is suited to most people, of varying ability. The activities on offer are all free and are run from one end of the coast to the other.
To find out more about Greg’s and my tour, just contact Coffs City Council and book in. I’m sure you will enjoy your time out.
> How can people book to take one of these unique tours of our region?
Bookings are essential and can be made through Council. Call 6648 4676 to reserve your spot. More information about the programs, as well as tour dates and times, can also be found on Council’s website at www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/tours
> Thank you Kevin.