Get to Know Tasmania Tour Guide John Lovell

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John Lovell is a keen traveler, having visited several regions of Europe and Asia, as well as large tracts of mainland Australia. So Lovell, who has lived and worked in Tasmania for more than 30 years, now owns and operates Discover Tasmania Tours, where he can share his love of adventure with fellow travelers as a Tasmania tour guide. He offers private tours for small groups — from art walks, winery tours and nature tours to hanging out with Tasmanian Devils — but is always open to going off the beaten path to explore the unknown. After all, his tagline is: “What’s around the corner?”
How did you get into your field of expertise?

Simple, I love to travel and have been to a dozen countries — Japan is my favourite destination. I enjoy meeting fellow travellers who always have great travel stories and tips on where to go and what to see and do. Tasmania is such a special place and I am privileged to be able to show guests the wonderful scenery and unique animals that live here.

How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?

I worked in the electricity and gas utility (industry) for nearly 40 years and making the transition to tour guide was easy. I want to share what we have that is unique to Tasmania and I like to talk with like-minded travellers who not only wish to visit a new location but experience it with a local.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is quite different as I could have a wine tour of the Tamar Valley, a scenic tour to the Central Highlands or East Coast, or an historic (tour of) colonial estates or engineering power stations. Sometimes I may get a call early in the morning for a full-day tour that may be one of (those) or a custom tour to reflect their interests. Being flexible is important, but more important is the local knowledge of the things we see and do.

Do you have a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?

There are particular routes that I follow, but my tagline is: “What’s around the corner?” Sometimes I will go down roads or tracks I have never been before, but it’s all part of the experience. We always have fun and laugh a lot on tour and I make guests feel as comfortable as possible and educate them along the way.

What’s the best part of your job?

Meeting new and interesting travellers who have their own stories to share and enjoy sharing them. It’s also a good way to expand my foreign language understanding, learn some new phrases and words, and find out more about their home country. I try and learn as much from them as they do from me when visiting Tasmania.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had on a guided tour?

The only incident worth reporting is a guest who disappeared from a tour group within a power station and was found in a restricted area where maintenance was being carried out. Mmmm.

Ever had any odd requests from clients?

The odd person wishes to visit a fruit farm to pick their own produce (such as) strawberries that are not in season or visit the lavender farm expecting it to be in full bloom all year round. When I explain they are not in production or in bloom, they still want to go and have a look just to say they have been there.

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects you aren’t keen on?

Cleaning the vehicle at the end of each tour to ensure it is presented in the best possible way for the next tour.

As an experienced guide yourself, what are the benefits of hiring a guide?

The benefits of hiring a guide are accessing a local resident with local knowledge who can take you to places that are not in the guidebook and have a “wow” factor. The guide can impart information relating to the history of the area and the endemic wildlife and flora that surrounds us on any tour. It’s all about providing a unique experience. Let travellers arrive as a guest but leave as a friend is important.

Tell us something about Tasmania that only a guide would know.

My power station tour is unique as I am the only licensed tour operator in Northern Tasmania who can take guests through a working hydroelectric power station, and they (learn) how electricity is generated and distributed within the national electricity network.

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?

There are a number of operators doing similar scenic and wine tours, and identifying the point of difference should be clear. In my case, I generally take four guests at any one time but bigger groups are welcome and I am required to hire a larger vehicle that is fit for purpose. So my tours are personal and at the end of the tour they feel a little like family members.

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