With a landmass of more than 7.6 million square kilometres, Australia is the planet’s sixth largest country and therefore has a great variety of landscapes to explore. The country’s vastness also means that travelling to the next destination can mean we have to spend quite a bit of time on the road.
But driving long distances can be great fun and there are unique experiences out there just waiting to be discovered, which can make these driving adventures even more memorable and special. If you decide to take a long drive for your next holiday, stopping off at some new spots will add more diversity to your vacation and will give a better understanding of and appreciation for the land you are driving through.
For example, 15 minutes south of Alice Springs you’ll find Advanced Ecotourism and ROC certified Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre. The family business, set on a 100-acre protected area wilderness reserve, is focused on ecology and sustainability and offers one of the most magical sky observation programs in the world.
If you’re in South Australia and driving north, another great example of an experience you can’t have anywhere else is playing mini golf in the outback at Ecotourism certified Innamincka Hotel before sitting down to enjoy a moonlit cinema experience or karaoke night.
You can see the desert come alive at Advanced Ecotourism and ROC certified Alice Springs Desert Park and hear the stories of plants, animals, and local Aboriginal culture at daily guide presentations.
Photo: Alice Springs Desert Park / Facebook
In Western Australia, north of Carnarvon, sits Nature Tourism certified Gnaraloo Station – a remote sheep station famous for its stunning coastline, wildlife, fishing, waves and wind. It seems like you can do it all here: swim, snorkel or dive on the Ningaloo Reef and walk and explore the area. After a day full of adventures relax at Gnaraloo Homestead and enjoy the amazing sunset.
Photo: Gnaraloo Station / Facebook
For more travel inspiration for your next Australian road trip adventure, check out our Green Travel Guide.
[Header image: Maui, Britz & Mighty Motorhomes & Campervans / Facebook]
Located on the world’s largest sand island is the newly certified operator Fraser Experience Tours. This Australian family-owned business has been offering guided tours for over 20 years and has just achieved Ecotourism Certification for its 1 Day Experience Tours, 1 Day Hummer Tour, 1 Day Fantastic Fraser Island Tour and Custom Tours.
At Fraser Experience Tours there is nothing that keeps you away from a true ECO adventure. The operator offers equal opportunities for all participants to see the very best of World Heritage listed Fraser Island, with customised and personal tours which be tailored to suit individual needs and all levels of abilities or disabilities.
Credit: Fraser Experience Tours
Join a group tour for a fun and affordable way to experience Fraser Island or enjoy the experience with your own individually planned itinerary. Either way, Fraser Experience Tours guarantees small group sizes and friendly and experienced guides. Guides are local residents who know the island intimately and offer extensive knowledge for your unforgettable adventure. Each of the guides has completed tourism industry courses, has years of experience driving on the unique island and is part of the Fraser Experience Tours family.
Book a tour such as the Ecotourism certified “1 Day Hummer Tour” and treat yourself with the thrill of a hummer, plus pick up and drop off, transfers and fees and all catering throughout the day included. Fraser Experience Tours caters for vegetarians, allergies and other speciality dietary requirements. The tour operator has taken thousands of happy customers on once in a lifetime journeys around the tranquil locations and hidden treasures of beautiful Fraser Island.
Fraser Experience Tours is committed to sustainable practices throughout the management of its business. The company has installed solar panels, trains its staff on eco-friendly driving techniques, collaborates with climate change conscious businesses and suppliers and purchases locally and in bulk wherever possible. The business’ emissions sources are identified and assessed and their carbon footprint is calculated and reported. Fraser Experience Tours also provides pre-tour information about dingo awareness and recognises the Butchalla People as the Traditional Owners of Kgari (Fraser Island).
[Header image credit: Fraser Experience Tours]
A focus on sustainability is not new to Australia’s nature-based tourism sector, with almost half of Ecotourism Australia certified operators now certified for a decade or longer.
With a membership of close to 500 accommodations, tour companies and attractions around Australia, Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman says that the longevity of these tourism businesses – many of them small to medium sized enterprises and family businesses – is a testament to their focus on delivering high quality experiences for visitors:
“Ecotourism Australia members have all been certified through one of our programs – primarily ECO Certification – and the reality is businesses who choose ECO Certification survive and thrive when compared to other tourism businesses,” he says.
To achieve certification, a business needs to go through quite a rigorous process and meet a number of criteria not just around their environmental and community impacts but around their general business operations.
“A business can’t be called sustainable if it’s not financially sustainable,” Mr Hillman says, “and a part of the certification process is looking at the operator’s business plans, operational plans and risk management plans.
“An operator that has these kinds of documents in place is more likely to be prepared for unexpected events, like what we’ve seen recently, because they have already been forced to think about the ‘what ifs’ that inevitably are part of the tourism sector.”
Photo: Busselton Jetty
One of the businesses certified for ten years this year (and therefore given the title of Green Travel Leader) is multi-award winning Western Australian tourism icon, Busselton Jetty. Environmental Manager Sophie Teede says that being ECO certified has helped the business to look critically at its business model and plans in order to constantly improve its operations.
“Being an ECO certified operator has [also] given us the confidence to embrace the nature aspects of our business and encourage our visitors to enjoy our beautiful environment as it is. We have been able to confidently market aspects of our business that perhaps as locals are taken for granted and show them proudly to our visitors.”
This year, 31 Ecotourism Australia certified operators will be added as Green Travel Leaders, joining the 213 existing 10 year + members, while 10 more will be added to Ecotourism Australia’s Hall of Fame for being certified for 20 years.
For questions and comments, please contact Lina Cronin – Communications Manager – 0422 325 488
Ecotourism Australia welcomes its newest Business Member, Insight Australia Travel. Insight Australia Travel is a Sydney-based, 100% Australian focussed, boutique style inbound tour operator that specialises in group travel, special interest groups and cruise ship excursions.
Established in 2002, Insight Australia Travel has great experience in successfully handling groups of all sizes, predominately from Western Hemisphere markets.
Credit: Insight Australia Travel
Each itinerary is tailored to the group’s specific requirements regarding interest, timing and budget. Furthermore, the itineraries incorporate the collective knowledge and experience of the Insight Australia Travel team. Groups are able to enjoy the must-see highlights as well as local insider insights. Insight Australia Travel tailors tours in all the major centres of Australia as well as all the more hidden gems, from Arnhemland to Bruny Island or Rottnest to Lord Howe.
Credit: Insight Australia Travel
Insight Australia Travel enjoys long-standing relationships with operators and suppliers across the country to ensure professional service delivery at a competitive rate. In addition, the experienced team is constantly sourcing new products and experiences to ensure each traveller has the opportunity to enjoy the best that Australia has to offer.
Insight Australia Travel is committed to sustainable tourism. The business aims to keep its environmental footprint small and uses tourism to help local communities and raise support for conservation.
Credit: Insight Australia Travel
The company is passionate about helping others to enjoy the things they treasure most. For this reason, the staff aim to tread lightly and leave a positive impact on people, places and the planet with everything they do, both in the office and on the road. For example, as a team, Insight Australia Travel aims to reduce the environmental footprint of its business operations by reducing, reusing and recycling at every opportunity. As a business, Insight Australia Travel has also eliminated single-use plastics from its operations and encourages its partners and suppliers to do the same.
For more information check out Insight Australia Travel’s website.
[Header image credit: Insight Australia Travel]
You know an operator is committed to the principles of ecotourism when they achieve Advanced Ecotourism, Climate Action Business and Respecting our Culture (ROC) certification all on their first attempt. We are very proud to welcome Cairns-based Barefoot Tours to the Ecotourism Australia family!
An independently owned local business, Barefoot Tours is made up of a small team of passionate and engaged staff. Their certified tours – the Atherton Tablelands Rainforest and Waterfall Day Tour, Cape Tribulation and Daintree Rainforest Day Tour and Mission Beach and Dunk Island Day Tour – take visitors to the beautiful sites surrounding Cairns, connecting them with nature, teaching them about the local culture and giving them a deeper understanding of the Far North Queensland region – all while throwing in a good dose of fun and laughter for the journey.
The company’s staff are trained in fuel efficient driving practices and vehicle emissions are measured and offset annually. In further efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, the business reduces the amount of meat provided per tour, recycles and buys biodegradable products where possible, picks items with as little amount of packaging as possible and measures its emissions source by source. It also supports local businesses as much as possible in order to both support the local community and reduce the environmental impact associated with transporting goods from other regions.
All food scraps are composted, and care is taken to minimize food waste by considering the required food quantity for the number of guests on a tour. Guests are encouraged to return brochures for reuse, and all promotional materials are printed on FSC certified paper, although digital (paper-free) marketing is prioritised.
Climate action is high on the agenda for Barefoot Tours, with staff participating in industry forums on how the regional tourism industry can collaboratively adapt to climate change. All tour guests are provided information upon booking that highlights the environmental characteristics of the areas they visit and how they can practice responsible tourist behaviours both during their trip and before leaving home. Climate change interpretation is also included in Barefoot Tours’ excursions, during which guests are educated on the direct impacts of climate change in the local area and efforts made by local communities to adapt to the changing environment.
All guides are experienced and passionate about the region, with two of them certified ECO Guides and one being a local Indigenous guide who conducts bush tucker and survival talks and tells his family’s dreamtime stories. This Indigenous guide also trains new staff on Indigenous engagement and interpretation.
A portion of the company’s profits each year goes into the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which focus on translating books into local language and distributing them to remote communities across Australia in an effort to boost literacy and first language skills and encourage these communities to also publish their own stories.
Once again, congratulations to Barefoot Tours and welcome to the Ecotourism Australia community!
[All photos courtesy of Barefoot Tours’ website and Facebook page]