strategic planning Every project we undertake is informed by our decades of experience in catering for the needs of visitors to natural areas. We invite our clients to work with us on innovative ways to communicate via digital platforms and conventional media.

Nature Tourism Services are interpretive planning specialists.

The company was established in 1998 by

IAN CHARLES

and

MARIANNE WALSH

In setting up the business Ian drew upon his 18 years of experience working for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service – first as a tour guide and after 1987 as an interpretation officer / graphic designer.

As a graduate artist majoring in sculpture, Marianne brought her design skills and artistic background to bear on her role as art director, illustrator and signage installations / landscape designer.

Today these twin core skill sets continue to define the product offered by our company and all the work presented here derives from this collaborative enterprise.

Our clients have the confidence that the same team that delivered the products shown here across our website, will be the team engaged in working on their particular project.

orientation vs interpretation

Consideration of the landscape setting within which we communicate with the visitor lies at the heart of all our interpretive planning work.

This requires interpretive planning to consider landscape design principles to ensure visitors are in a safe and appropriately positioned setting aside from main thoroughfares where they can take in the media on offer.

It also requires an appreciation of the fundamental roles played by orientation materials and interpretive media in the overall visitor experience.

In essence orientation material is the "need to know" content that a visitor must have in order to execute their trip plan safely and in accordance with park regulations.

Interpretation by contrast involves "want to know" content. Where visitor orientation materials deliver the experience, interpretive media help the visitor ascribe value and meaning to their undertaking.

This understanding is an essential underpinning of all good interpretive planning. It avoids the problem of placing content in inappropriate places.

People's first need in arriving in an unfamiliar setting is to orientate themselves to their new surroundings. "Where am I relative to where I have come from, where do I go from here and where are the nearest toilets?".

interpretive planning schema

The diagram above shows a simple schema that reflects our approach to interpretive planning. It embodies the importance of good landscape design principles in underpining good interpretive design. In essence it ensures that the right messages are being delivered in the appropriate settings relative to the visitor's stage in their overall trip experience.

Good interpretive planning and strategic design principles lie at the heart of all our design responses.

Some projects however are large enough to require a separate, stand alone strategic planning process to be undertaken. Details of some of our major interpretive planning projects are provided below.

interpretive planning - wallaces heritage trail
bogong high plains

When the Bogong High Plains Road to the east of Falls Creek in Victoria's Alpine National Park was sealed in 2009, we undertook the upgrade of a series of roadside nodes providing access to key visitor experiences.

interpretive planning - greater blue mountains
greater-blue-mountains

In 2003 we - together with Ian Brown - undertook the interpretation plan for the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area which laid the basis for communities to adopt the WHA as their own resource. Blue Mountains Tourism did this and in 2007 we undertook the strategic planning, lead project management and graphic design for their Greater Blue Mountains Drive project. This venture won the 2008 National Tourism Award / New Project Development.

interpretive planning - railtrail
victorian-railtrails

In 2104 we worked with Victorian High Country Collective to plan, design and supervise the construction of the new signage / seating elements for the roll out of the Great Victorian Railtrail.

interpretive planning - mungo national park
mungo-footprints

As part of a larger project team assembled by Epacris Environmental Consultants in 2010, we undertook the strategic / interpretive planning, graphic design and signage needed to interpret Mungo National Park's renowned human fossil trackways - the world's largest collection of ice age human footprints. Centrepiece of the project was the construction of an outdoor amphitheatre featuring 3D scanned replicas of sections of the trackways (whose location is secret and are anyway covered by a protective layer of sand and matting).

interpretive planning - the gully aboriginal place
gully-aboriginal-place

Interpreting The Gully Aboriginal Place at Katoomba in 2012 was a joint enterprise we were privileged to participate in with The Gully Traditional Owners and Blue Mountains City Council. Our work involved the strategic development of the interpretive nodes along the feature track section leading through the reserve and the design of the signage.

interpretive planning - ballina coastal pathway
Coastal Pathway Ballina

In 2015 we worked in close collaboration with Ballina Shire Council to deliver the interpretation planning, landscape design, signage design and digital platform integration solutions needed for the Coastal Recreational Pathway section running through East Ballina Aboriginal Place.

interpretive planning - falls creek
falls creek alpine resort

Between 2015 / 17 we assisted Falls Creek Alpine Resort with the strategic planning, landscape / signage design, mapping and graphic design needed to update the resort's signage ensemble and to cater for the needs of the seasonal changeover between summer and winter use.

cross mmedia consistency cross media consistency diagram

Instead of having one set of content and styling for digital, another for signage and a third for print, we can now deliver a single content ensemble across all media.

Prior to the widespread uptake of smartphones and tablets post 2010, the three media platforms – signage / print / digital – were dealt with as separate entities. This typically extended to them each having their own suite of information / content that was developed specifically for the operating environment in which the media needed to function.

Today however it is possible to have a single body of branded message content, that can be delivered in a consistent manner across all platforms irrespective of the media being used to convey it.

Whereas digital media once needed to be developed as a stand alone product, it now needs to be considered in the context of it as an integrated part of the broader message delivery ecosystem.

The crucial outcome from this approach is that the visitor gets the encounter the same message style and content irrespective of the media they are using. Rather than digital for example having its own set of maps as dictated by the digital platform, the digital platform is chosen so as to ensure the delivery of consistent content presentation.

The example from Falls Creek shown below demonstrates how the same maps and style that underpin the delivery of signage on site can also be used to support the delivery of the digital user guide.

falls user guide example