As the Douglas Shire awakens from the COVID-19 lockdown, each week, DouglasNews.Network shines a light on a local business operating within the stunning backyard we call home.Today, Jason from tour operator Back Country Bliss gives Natalie the lowdown on everything blissful, and chats about taking the path less travelled on Back Country Bliss’s Devil’s Thumb hiking tour.
What was your inspiration behind the purchase of Back Country Bliss?
Apart from being my own boss, the biggest attraction was the river drift snorkelling tour. Before guiding, I worked for many years in the aquatics industry, so it was a chance to combine two of my favourite things, guiding and fish.
The Devil’s Thumb hike is pretty challenging (I have not done it!). What customers are you attracting for this hike?
The common denominator in all our guests is a sense of adventure. We want to attract people searching for something a little different to the “normal” walking tours. Hikes such as Devil’s Thumb can seem quite daunting if you don’t know what to expect, that’s where our guides come in, helping to create an experience that’s safe and manageable. The fact you can see it from Port Douglas is also amazing!
How fit do you REALLY have to be to do it?
You don’t need to be able to run a marathon (I probably couldn’t), but the ability to climb a lot of stairs would be a great start. Believe it or not, we’ve had first time hikers on our tour. All loved the experience, but the main requirement to enjoy this trail is good sturdy legs and good balance. We take many breaks on the way up, to ensure everyone is doing well and consuming enough water. Once we reach the Fern Patch, at the 3km mark, the rest of the trail is a lot flatter, although still plenty of fun obstacles.
What sort of educational element do you offer customers as part of the hike?
The main drive behind this tour, is to allow guests to experience the Upland Rainforests, or cloud-forest. This environment is at risk of disappearing as our climate warms, with the lowland rainforest eventually replacing the upland rainforest over time. I’ve started referring to the upland rainforest as the “glaciers of the tropics”. This tour gives guests a chance to experience first-hand an environment that may not exist in another 100 years. These areas also have a high number of endemic species found nowhere else in the world. And while we can’t always guarantee a giant blue earthworm on every walk, we can still talk about them.
Do you believe there is a growing call for guided hikes like Devil’s Thumb, and other opportunities associated with the Wangetti Trail?
The Wangetti trail will definitely put our region on the map as a hiking destination, so we should see a steady increase in this type of tourism. Plus, there’s so many amazing walks in our region that most don’t even know exist.
There is a general feeling among tourism operators that post COVID-19, tourists will be looking more at participating in nature-based touring in pristine, sustainable environments. Do you see this with Back Country Bliss?
Yes, I think with many people having been inside for so long, they will want to surround themselves with as much nature as possible. We are lucky that our hiking and river drift snorkelling tours are all outside, and generally completely isolated from any other tourists.
The Devil’s Thumb hike operates on request and includes hiking poles, gourmet lunch, safety equipment, insect repellent and backpack with water bladder – just bring your sense of adventure!
Back Country Bliss also operate a Mossman Gorge Adventure tour featuring a traditional Kuku Yalanji “Welcome to Country”, smoking ceremony, and a River Drift Snorkelling tour daily.