One minute video, two minute read

What’s that delicate wildflower? What year did that buried ship hull come to grief? These are the questions that are often left unanswered when out on the trail. Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk can be done with or without a guide, but there’s something very special that unfolds when guide Tom Stayner is by your side.

Joining the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk and stepping out on this famed coastline with a guide brings the landscape to life. Tom and our Australian Walking Company guides carry more than just emergency water! They’ve got vast knowledge of the landscape, are well versed in the Indigenous and European history, know their geology, are across the biology of plants and can share a shipwreck yarn like a pro storyteller.

Why do they choose to be guides? They just love it. They love being out there with you. They love sharing their knowledge. And they love imparting these snippets to ensure universal respect for nature.


Tom is the type of guide that feels like you’re walking with a great mate who happens to know far more than most about this stretch of Victorian coastline. Across four days he’s a thoughtful listener, a softly spoken imparter of facts, as well as someone whose passion for the region is contagious. He’s there when you’re keen to understand the shifts in geological layers. He’s there to identify a birdcall. He’s also there to pour you a chilled drink at the day’s end, served with sea views.

“The places that we are, are pretty incredible,” Tom says. “We come out to a view, and no matter how many times I've seen it, you hear the responses of the people whose jaws are dropping and they're like, oh, wow!”

For Tom, these guest reactions are akin to closing a deal in the boardroom. In Tom’s outdoor office, there may be no KPIs, but sharing a moment of awe is the ultimate success. He’s genuinely happy when out on the trail, and revelling in its surprises with others heightens his joy!


Tom is a firm believer that the more we know about the landscape, the more respect we hold for it. On a journey as diverse as the Great Ocean Walk, there is much to learn for those with a lifelong thirst for knowledge.

“I love serving these places by being able to share knowledge and understanding,” Tom explains. “The more we know about a place, the more respect there is for it and the more love there is for those places. Pay your respects to the actions that you take. By learning as much as you can about a place, by caring for it as much as you can.”

In Tom’s books, with awareness and regard for nature, comes a deeper connection to place. By the way, he’s read a lot of books! You’ll be thanking him when he can reel off facts like he’s reading from a hidden trailside script. And across those many kilometres, there’s ample time for said ‘connection to place’ to evolve.

Are you ready to share in Tom’s palpable passion and quiz him on rare plants? Take the next step…