Here at Go West, we employ over 40 of the industry’s most enthusiastic and dedicated individuals! You might think these guys have it easy – being able introduce guests from across the globe some of the most incredible destinations across Victoria, but I can assure you it takes a special character to fill this position. After all, you’ll need a charming personality, a great sense of humor (and direction!), and above all….. patience!
That’s why we reward our superstar guides for all of their hard work throughout the year. Today we caught up with Leonie to ask her a few questions and applaud her efforts after finishing on top of the leader board for the quarter!
First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I grew up in a beautiful city called Leiden in the Netherlands, and then lived in Amsterdam for a while. My love for travel sent me backpacking on the other side of the globe, where I fell in love with Australia and my partner. I moved to Melbourne two years ago and haven’t looked back since. Before becoming a tour guide, I did some odd jobs in the city and worked myself into a sweat on various fruit farms to be able to stay here!
How did you come to work as a Tour Guide for Go West?
My last job was guiding walking tours through Melbourne CBD. I had no previous tour guiding experience and absolutely loved it, so after a while I decided I wanted to take on some bigger adventures. Going on day long tours now is a lot of fun, as you get to spend a full day with your group out and about. That way you have the chance to really get to know your guests and get some stories out of them.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I love that I’m able to take people to these absolutely stunning places, and then watch their reactions as they see them for the first time. Sometimes a guest is very keen on seeing a koala, or a specific place, or the penguins… and when they do, their excitement is contagious!
What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a guide?
Trying out tour guiding really pushed me out of my comfort zone, as I didn’t like public speaking. Now I have to tell myself to stop talking sometimes!
Which is your favourite Go West tour destination and why?
I love the Great Ocean Road as it’s such a fun and beautiful drive. Mait’s Rest in the Otways is one of my happy places, I love being surrounded by the green ferns. If I get to dip my feet in the ocean at Loch Ard Gorge at the end of a summer’s day, I’m all smiles! Right now, I’d say it’s my favourite tour, but I think the beautiful views and wildlife at the Grampians also make for a strong contender.
What is your most important advice for guests visiting Melbourne for the first time?
If you’re in the city, stay away from the main streets. Go exploring. Get ‘lost’ in the laneways, try to find some hidden bars. Have a coffee in a local café. If you have more than a day, take a tram to Fitzroy, Brunswick or St Kilda to do the same. Oh, and don’t trust the weather!
What’s the most memorable experience you have had engaging with a guest or guests?
Two guests hopped off the bus at the Nobbies and told me they were going to have a look at “that spikey looking animal” in the bushes! Until that day I’d never seen an echidna, but had desperately searched for them. They spotted it and showed me. It walked right over to us before disappearing again, I was so happy I nearly cried! The guests were very amused to see me so excited over something they probably thought I see all the time. Seeing the animal so close was a cool experience between the three of us.
What’s your secret to being a fantastic tour guide?
Don’t take yourself too seriously ;)
We hope you can join us in congratulating Leonie, as well as the whole Go West team on another fantastic few months! Leonie and the rest of our outstanding guides here at Go West are ready to give you an unforgettable day trip that we’re sure will be one of the many highlights of your time here in Australia. Book yours today.