British-born former painter Anna Dakin crowned Northern Territory’s best tour guide

With a background in painting, UK-born Anna Dakin never planned on a career as a tour guide through central Australia.

Now the Brit in the bush has been crowned the Northern Territory’s Best Tour Guide for 2022 and is finding ways to combine her passion for art and the outdoors in one of the country’s most rugged landscapes.

Ms. Dakin moved to Alice Springs five years ago and has become well acclimated to the 230 kilometer Larapinta Trail.

She said her first exposure to the first Red Center trek made her worse, but ultimately laid the foundation for her future career.

“During my painting degree in the UK, I traveled to Central Australia and spent some time outdoors painting in the landscape, and eventually convinced myself to hike the Larapinta Trail,” she said.

“I hiked the Larapinta with a backpack full of paints. I was terribly unprepared, wearing a pair of Doc Martens, but managed to complete the trail and get some great paints out of the experience. .”

Ms Dakin will represent the NT at the upcoming Australian Top Tourism Awards 2022.(Supplied: Worldwide shipments)

A desire to return to the Red Center

Despite the challenges, Ms Dakin’s experience has helped her develop a deep appreciation for outback Australia.

“When I moved back to London, it was the experience of being in a remote landscape and spending time searching that was really the most profound thing for me,” she said.

“Probably one of the biggest differences between Central Australia and the UK is that almost every square inch of the UK has been farmed or is managed by someone.

“You walk into these landscapes of central Australia, and it’s rugged, it’s raw, it’s one of the last wild environments in the world.”

After completing her studies at the Royal College of Art in London, Ms Dakin returned to the Red Centre, where she now tours with World Expeditions.

She is also currently developing her own business, which brings art and wilderness together with remote art tours.

Learning “unexpected” skills

Ms Dakin said having a good sense of humor was essential to being a good tour guide, but there were several other “unexpected” skills she had developed over the years, such as chopping firewood and reverse trailers.

She said it was a fantastic time to hike the Larapinta Trail as the tourism industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A woman walks up a rocky backcountry path.
Originally a painter, Ms Dakin admits the career change was not planned.(Supplied: Worldwide shipments)

“We had bushfires in 2019, which devastated a lot of the trail. These bushfires were much larger than what you would traditionally see here,” she said.

“And then, for the past two years, we’ve had a lot of rain, and it’s brought the most incredible flowers to bloom in the bush.

“I think right now the Larapinta Trail is potentially the best I’ve ever seen.”

Ms Dakin was selected for the coveted award by Tourism NT from a pool of applicants. Next month she will represent the NT at the forthcoming Australian Top Tourism Awards 2022, which will be held at Parliament House in Canberra.