Travis Frenay our guide from Paddle & Portage Canoes has been a professional paddling instructor for nearly 20 years and has been the lead teacher of canoeing at Lithgow TAFE for the last 12 years on their award-winning Outdoor Recreation courses.
He is an extremely talented instructor with unsurpassed local knowledge and to say he is a water enthusiast is an understatement. Travis is also a remote trained medic and hiking instructor who runs all our nature-based walks, mountain bikes and abseiling.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Travis was introduced to the outdoors at an early age and spent his childhood exploring the bush around his house. Like so many people there was a defining moment when he knew this was the career he wanted to pursue. It happened on a family visit to the Caribbean Island of Dominica when Travis meet local guide Clem who took them hiking through a stunning rainforest on one of the many island’s with active volcanoes.
Clem saw the rainforest in a way new to Travis. He told them about the eco system, the animals, the plants but also what a forest can provide from shelter to potions. Suddenly trees became medicinal treasure troves, water sources were hidden beyond human sight, animals had adapted creative behaviour to live here and the well-being benefits of nature were coming to life. Clem communicated a new way to view nature and wove in short lessons about useful medicinal plants along the way. Travis was hooked and early in his outdoor career in the US he used Clem’s guidance to role model his own technique.
Travis has a Bachelor of Environmental Science and a Diploma of Outdoor Recreation with specialties in canoeing, bushwalking, and backcountry ski touring. These are complemented by other professional outdoor qualifications such as being a Wilderness First Responder which is an internationally-recognised 80-hr Wilderness First Aid qualification that is renewed every 3 years, as well as a 4-wheel drive expert.
The Bachelor of Environmental Science Degree gave Travis a greater understanding of the intricate and intertwined systems in nature which in turn helped him become a world class educator. He began working professionally in Conservation/Outdoor Education in 2001 in the USA leading 30-day trips in US National Parks then later migrated to Australia in 2004 on a sponsored business visa whilst working for the Outdoor Education Group.
Shortly after arriving in NSW he realised that there was a large gap in his knowledge of the Australian bush regarding its flora, fauna, and traditional uses. He immediately enlisted the help of many of the Koori Discovery Rangers he worked alongside and started learning this new continent. With their help, his own knowledge passed on by other guides, and many, many books Travis was able to establish a sound understanding and familiarity with his new home. He carefully and respectfully uses this knowledge to enhance the experience on all our adventures and to instil an appreciation for the uniqueness of our Australian environments as well as the incredible breadth of knowledge that has been amassed by our indigenous people over many tens of thousands of years.
In 2007 he began teaching Outdoor Recreation at TAFENSW and became the lead teacher of canoeing on the award-winning Certificate III and Certificate IV courses. Still going today, this role sees him training and mentoring the next generation of professional outdoor guides and instructors. He also recognised a huge gap in the market with a lack of availability of open canoes in Australia so decided to create a new business around importing these beautiful and traditional vessels from the US with Wenonah Canoe. As one of the industry’s most established and trusted brands, he is now their sole Australian importer. In 2011 Paddle & Portage Canoes was born and each year goes from strength to strength.
Happily married and proud father to 2 wonderful children, Travis now enjoys seeing his own children’s connection to nature grow with each new experience they share together.