Congratulations to the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre (CCMDC) for achieving Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Certification for their Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre, Schools Program and Wings, Whales and Wildflower Tours!

The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre focuses on research and educational resourcing to create greater understanding and appreciation of catchments, coasts and oceans within the community. The centre delivers a range of high quality innovative and interactive educational programs, activities and experiences and has a café, book and gift shop and runs a community support group.

CCMDC 1 adult education

It also runs a range of activities for children, such as ‘Become a Junior Marine Scientist.’ Talks are often given in the evening by experts on marine topics such as shipwrecks, heritage, diving, fish and other creatures of the oceans and estuaries, and staff are always keen to share their passion and commitment to sustainability principles with their visitors.

Parklife, the café within the centre, focuses on clean eating for kids, organic coffee and having no processed foods. It actively promotes upcycling and recycling and food scraps are composted for the edible garden or given away as part of their #soupdaddy project to feed the Central Coast’s homeless.

CCMDC 1 kids excursion

CCMDC’s Schools Program includes a range of fieldwork and excursion programs for both primary and secondary school students. These programs allow children to learn about marine life and the importance of taking care of the environment. For high schools, outcomes are based on syllabus requirements related to science and geography and the teaching of field skills through learning about local ecosystems. Both school programs are led by qualified CCMDC staff.

Participants of the centre’s Wings, Whales and Wildflower tour have the opportunity to observe, learn about and enjoy the coast by land or sea. Taking groups to the nearby national parks, reserves and waterways, these tours showcase the dynamic and changing nature of the seasons on the Central Coast. All tours include an activity or walk, a hot lunch, an expert talk and the opportunity to see local flora and fauna.

CCMDC 1 crab

The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre has become a valuable education resource for both local and visiting schools through its school programs, a developing hub for research activity and a key tourist attraction for the Central Coast. It is operated and maintained by more than 50 active volunteers and occasional paid teachers.

Once again, we welcome CCMDC to the Ecotourism Australia family, and congratulate them on achieving certification!


For more information about CCMDC, check out their listing in our Green Travel Guide, as well as their website and Facebook page.


[Photos: Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre Facebook page]


When you hear the word pollution, the Milky Way is probably not the first thing that comes to mind (unless, of course, you’re talking about the iconic blue-plastic wrapped chocolate bar).

However, according to the IDA – the International Dark Sky Association – light pollution is a serious issue and because of it, many people on earth have never seen the original Milky Way – our galaxy, home of the sun and moon and canvas for an estimated 100 billion stars.  

Dark skies article binna burra

Photo: Binna Burra Mountain Lodge

But what is light pollution, and, beyond the possibility of engendering FOMO* among those that live in our brightly illuminated urban areas, does it really have a significant effect on the life of our planet?

According to the IDA, it very much does, and in fact, science shows that the reduction of darkness can have alarming side effects on the environment, human health, energy consumption and our safety.

First, artificial night light disrupts plant growth and confuses animals. Migrating birds can crash into buildings and turtle hatchlings mistakenly journey toward onshore glows instead of heading toward the shimmer and safety of the ocean.

For humans, artificial light disrupts circadian sleeping patterns and increases the risk of developing obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer and more. If poorly designed, bright streetlights can impair driver and pedestrian vision, causing unnecessary accidents and danger.

Blackout Todd CarlsonTowards Toronto Goodwood Ontario

Photo: Before and during a suburban blackout / Todd Carlson

So where does all this light pollution come from, and how long has it been a problem?

According to the IDA, light pollution is a side effect of industrialisation, and has become a growing concern over the past 100 years or so. With sources of light pollution including buildings, advertising, factories and sporting venues, the biggest culprit is perhaps not what you’d expect: the inconspicuous and humble common streetlight.

Often using traditionally shaped, ‘round’ bulbs, streetlights not only light up what’s beneath them, but also the sky above and to all sides. It’s an inefficient, und unnecessary, use of light – and energy.

“Even if you don’t care anything about stargazing, this should worry you,” said stellar astronomer, Lucianne Walkowicz, in a TEDx talk in 2012, “because it means that 60-70% of energy we use to light the outdoors is wasted by blotting out the stars.”

So what’s the bright side (pun intended)?

It’s here that the IDA’s mission to preserve and protect our precious dark skies comes in. Along with educating the public and policymakers on the importance of night sky conservation and providing assistance and research into responsible outdoor lighting, the IDA also certifies International Dark Sky Places.

The Jump Up Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Photo: Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Currently, there are 120 certified Dark Sky Places worldwide, which fall into one of six categories: communities, parks, reserves, sanctuaries and urban night sky places. Locations of certified Dark Sky Places can be found on the IDA’s interactive Dark Sky Places map. In Australia, Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in NSW is Australia’s only certified Dark Sky Park, and in May this year, our very own Nature Tourism certified Australian Age of Dinosaurs became Australia’s first certified Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Whether you’re an avid star-spotter, aspiring astronomer or want to do your part in baby turtles achieving their adult potential, there are a few things you can do to help combat light pollution:

  • Educate yourself. Check out the IDA website ( for great resources and informative blog articles.
  • Only use lighting when and where it’s needed.
  • If safety is a concern, install motion detector lights and timers.
  • Properly shield all outdoor lights.
  • Keep your blinds down and curtains drawn to keep light inside.
  • Become a citizen scientist and help to measure light pollution (check out this website for more info).
  • Choose LEDs and compact fluorescents (CFLs), which can help reduce energy use and protect the environment, but make sure these are warm-white bulbs. Also make sure you read this myth-busting article on LED lights, first.
  • Dimmers, motion sensors and timers can help to reduce average illumination levels and save energy.
  • Visit a certified Dark Sky Place and tell your friends and family how special they are. With experience comes appreciation, and with appreciation comes protection.
Earth Sanctuary World Nature CEntre.jpg 2

Photo: Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre

Insider tip:

Some of our certified operators offer amazing stargazing experiences! Check out: 

What’s your favourite star-gazing place in Australia? Let us know in the comments below!


[Header image: The Milky Way from Warrumbungle National Park / Bill Hatcher]

*FOMO = fear of missing out