David Doudle Interview
GUIDE Q&A: David Doudle
The adventure guide behind Australian Coastal Safaris talks about his great backyard, a typical day on safari, and how to speak like an okker Aussie
By: WHITNEY JAMES
Australia is a land so large and full of opportunities to explore, it is best seen with an expert guide who knows the territory like the back of his hand. For Outside GO, that guide is David Doudle. The Australian native shares his secrets for the perfect adventure down under and why he thinks the land of Oz is the next greatest tourist destination in our exclusive Q&A.
Tell us a bit about your background as a guide. What made you want to become one – was it the cage diving with sharks, or did you want to share the Australia you know and love?
It all began in 2004 when I had a grain farming business at the time. We had just purchased 4000 acres – bang on the incredible coastLine that makes up some of the 2000 km stretch of the Great Australian Bight. My mate suggested that I should set up a tourism business to show off my “backyard” as a diversification from our farming business.
Seven years later and well established, I got off the tractors, moved off the farm and now run the business full time in beautiful Port Lincoln, the Seafood Capital of Australia. Being the owner and operator of the business meant that I had to be the jack-of-all-trades – including guiding our tours.
"I love meeting people and making new friends from all walks of life, so guiding comes naturally. That, and the fact that our region is so untouched, so natural and so bloody good that I do want to show it off to the world!"
This is the only place in the world where you can swim with Great White Sharks, Australian sea lions, Bluefin Tuna, plus hand feed all of our native animals in the wild and in their own natural environment. Its nature’s playground and it’s a real buzz to see people getting close up & interacting with the wildlife in the ocean or back on terra firma. And to “hunt & gather” for your own seafood, teaching guests to fish, dive and explore the very place where I learnt as a kid is something really special. So is cooking the catch – it’s the real #RestaurantAustralia. So to answer your question, it’s sharing my backyard where I was born, where I was bred, and the place that I love that makes the guiding job easy.
Explain a typical day on a safari.
Where to start! There is a whole range of activities that we can get up to on any one day. What we can guarantee is a lot of great fun, action, food, scenery, and company travelling in style. You will meet lots of local characters and there are plenty of stories and education thrown in as we travel the region to many hidden secrets and uncharted locations off the beaten track. This includes 4W-driving through massive sand dunes on our coastal property to get to our private beach to catch a feed of fish, weaving our way through National Parks on mountain bikes, or getting face to face with the oceans most feared predator, the Great White Shark. We might even hand feed our native animals such as kangaroos, koalas, emus, wombat, and native birds – or go swimming in the worlds largest fishbowl with 80 kg Bluefin Tuna and other fish such as Snapper, Blue Morwong, Nannagai, Trevally and Australian Salmon.
Then, we might cruise through the marina canals to see the largest fishing fleet in the Southern Hemisphere or swim with the puppies of the ocean – the extraordinary Australian sea lions. The natural raw and rugged cliff tops of the Great Australian Bight are just spectacular and trekking along these cliffs or through sand dunes or along our footprint free beaches is spectacular. There’s always a visit to one of our seafood processors where you can meet the fisherman and get the produce straight from the boats like Coffin Bay oysters or Blue Mussels in Port Lincoln. Also guaranteed is a relaxed environment, so you can enjoy every moment of your holiday in Australia.
Your Instagram account contains mostly photos of oysters. Is food a large part of the Australian experience?
Wherever you go in the world, you want to experience other people’s culture and cuisine – and we are no exception. The Eyre Peninsula is slowly getting recognized as a must see travel destination and this is helped by the branding as Australia’s Seafood Frontier and the seafood capital of Australia. Tourism Australia has recently launched a massive campaign called #RestaurantAustralia to promote our food to the world. We are part of this campaign, and to be able to go forage and catch your own fish, clams, oysters, mussels, crayfish, abalone, and more is something guests really love. And of course we wash the meals down with more local produce, like beer and wine!
"To be able to taste the produce makes the experience even more memorable and there is nothing better than fresh fish, straight out of the ocean."
Australian slang can be hard for us westerners to keep up with. What’re a few things we’ll hear, and what do they mean
Jeez, bugger me. That’s hard as we think we talk normally but we’ll ‘ave a bit of a crack, eh’…?
Ol' Mate: some bloke you don't know
Pigs Ear: beer
Ripper: really good
Bloody Ripper: really, really good
What’re the five must-do’s or must-see’s while traveling in Australia?
A lot of people who come really want to see Ayers Rock, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Bridge in Sydney. I might be a little biased, but my list below does cover a lot of our region!
1. Meet the locals and genuine Australians by having a traditional beach BBQ & beers.
2. Get up close and personal with our wildlife like cage diving with the Great White Sharks, sea lions, and farmed tuna
3. Spend an afternoon on a deserted beach
4. Get out of the cities to experience the real people, the real characters, the real experiences, and the real food of Australia
5. Spend four or five days with me!
What makes Australia a great destination for Outside GO travelers?
I think that people just don’t realize how big Australia is and what you can do here. Most travelers only have a few weeks to spend on vacation, and it’s just not enough time. There are so many different experiences that Australia offers. North is different to South. The seasons are different so that you can be enjoying summer anytime of the year. There are snowfields, river systems, deserts, national and marine parks, rainforests, wonders of the world, and of course, the outback & the ocean. Seriously, Australia is unparalleled to any other country.