INSIGHT AUSTRALIA TRAVEL JOINS ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA BUSINESS COMMUNITY

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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

 

BAREFOOT TOURS ACHIEVES A HAT TRICK OF CERTIFICATION

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.

Barefoot Tours at Josephine Falls website Certification article 2

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.

Barefoot Tours stop with bus FB certification article

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.

Barefoot Tours at Lake Eacham website certification article

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.

Barefoot Tours bare feet website

Once again, congratulations to Barefoot Tours and welcome to the Ecotourism Australia community!

For more information about Barefoot Tours, visit their website or Facebook page.

 

[All photos courtesy of Barefoot Tours’ website and Facebook page]

NATURE: YOU NEED IT MORE THAN YOU MIGHT REALISE

Needing to self-isolate over the past few weeks has forced most of us to stay at home. While spending time indoors can be used productively for all sorts of tasks, a lot of us are excited about getting back outdoors to breath in some fresh air and feel the sun on our skin.

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Photo: Dirk Hartog Island (Advanced Ecotourism certified; Green Travel Leader)

Getting that right amount of sunshine helps our body to produce vitamin D and is great for our immune system as well as for our moods. Spending time outdoors clears and refreshes our minds and connecting to nature can benefit our health and can boost happiness.

But how should we be spending time outside?

Nobody knows better than you what your own body needs. For some people, it can be that walk along the beach that brings the extra refreshment to their mind. For others, it could be a downhill bike ride in the bush. Spending time in nature might just be those ten minutes a day in which we avoid the busyness and tasks of everyday life, or it might be a weekend getaway in the middle of Daintree rainforest. Either way, spending time in nature enables our bodies to reconnect and to put things into perspective. Being surrounded by nature stops us from getting distracted or feeling the need to stimulate ourselves with the latest news.

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Photo: Ocean Safari Lodge (Advanced Ecotourism certified; Green Travel Leader)

Obviously, getting outside can also help you keep fit. As soon as we step outside, we move our muscles and exercise. And while we might be exhausted at the end of the day of hiking, kayaking or climbing, we will be all the more thankful for our better sleep later on. A good appetite, pleasant emotions throughout the day and overall calmness are also benefits of walks, light sports, exercises or camping in nature. It’s no wonder that in the evenings we’ve spent time in nature we land in bed in a good state of mind and body and sleep tight!

Spending time in nature can bring us more energy in the long term. Walking in the fresh air enhances concentration, giving your mind a break from all the tasks awaiting at home, restores our mood and has a relaxation effect for our body and mind.

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Photo: Wilpena Pound Resort (Advanced Ecotourism and ROC certified)

Being in nature also gives us the ability to embrace the space around us with all our senses. We inevitably stumble across different smells, lights, sounds and feelings. It’s a good way to practice mindfulness and strengthen our connection with ourselves and our surroundings.

Nature simultaneously provides us with a recognition of complexity and sense of simplicity of the world we live in. It wakes up our most inner feelings and instincts. It’s a completely individual experience, and is often exactly what we need in our busy schedules between work, family, sport, meeting with friends and our seemingly ever increasing lists of things to do.

When was the last time you spent quality time in nature?

 

[Cover image: Pemberton Discovery Tours (Advanced Ecotourism certified, Green Travel Leader)

WELCOMING AUSTRALIA INBOUND TO THE ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA BUSINESS COMMUNITY

Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys has recently joined the Ecotourism Australia (EA) family as a Business Member. The inbound tour operator and destination management company designs and operates products that are guaranteed to deliver unique and unforgettable travel experiences. The business operates from Austinmer, a small seaside town just an hour away from Sydney and specialises in group-based products and independent itineraries.

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Credit: Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys

Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys sets its focus on excellent service by networking with local partners, many of them Ecotourism Australia certified. This enables the business to deliver a portfolio of highly rated products, accommodating a wide range of budgets, standards of comfort and levels of activity.

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Credit: Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys

Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys works to contribute to a reduction in the environmental cost coming from tourism, while working to have a positive impact on the local communities. When designing their clients’ itineraries, the business aims to provide travel experiences that are fair and sustainable. The designed products make use of operators that value responsible tourism and who are also ECO certified. Another focus is on bringing guests to less-visited places to minimize the contribution to over-tourism.

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, the team at Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys is eager to expand their business and grow their product offering and would love to hear from you. For more information check out the Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys website.

 

[Header image credit: Australia Inbound by Orange Journeys (Facebook)]

10 UNEXPECTED INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCES TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST

In Australia, we’re lucky to have the world’s oldest living culture in our very own backyard. This culture is as rich in its diversity as it is deep in its spirituality, full of colourful characters, engrossing stories and life lessons passed down from generations. For many travellers in Australia, things like seeing Indigenous dance or music performances, visiting rock art sites or going on bush tucker tours are common experiences. But if you think they are the only ways you can get an insight into Indigenous culture, think again!

We’ve pulled together ten of our favourite unexpected Indigenous experiences from around Australia, offered by our certified operators. So not only do you have the opportunity to experience culture in a whole new way, you’ll also be doing it with our nation’s leading sustainable tourism businesses – meaning they’ve had to prove that they’re presenting culture authentically, are giving back to their communities and are protecting the natural environment for decades to come.

How many of these have you heard of?

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Photo: Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours / Seen Australia

1. Stand up paddle board for community wellbeing

With Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours on New South Wales’ North Coast, you can paddle with the direct descendants of the world’s first stand up paddlers and connect to land and sea through stories, language and the collection of bush tucker. Better still, by doing so you’ll be contributing to the wellbeing of the local community, as Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours is a social enterprise that provides employment opportunities for local youth and community members. Find out more here.

Lombadina Tours mud crabbing June 2020

Photo: Lombadina Tours / Credit: Lombadina Tours website

2. Catch a mud crab the traditional way

The Bardi people of the beautiful Thomas Bay, north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula of Western Australia, are deeply connected to the ocean. For thousands of years, the sea here has served as both a food source and landscape of spiritual significance, shaping the Bard culture as represented through the people’s folklore, recreation, diet and economic activity.  Lombadina Tours gives visitors a unique opportunity to experience this culture’s traditions, not least by joining a local guide for a traditional mud crab catching experience in a mangrove-rich tidal estuary. Once enough crabs have been caught, your guide will cook them up for you to enjoy, together with a fresh salad and Lombadina’s famous bread. Find out more here. 

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Photo: Catacombs / Credit: Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris website

3. Learn about ancient mortuary rites in Arnhem Land’s catacombs

Aboriginal culture is full of creation stories, but did you know our country’s first inhabitants also had certain rules and rituals surrounding the end of life? With Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris, you have the chance to visit rarely seen catacombs in the sacred site of Mt Borradaile, a remote, 700km2 exclusively leased area in the heart of the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land. Honorary custodian Max Davidson and his staff share the history of the Amurdak people with visitors, whose inhabitation of the area dates back for 50,000 years. Find out more here.

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Photo: Worimi Dunes / Credit: Worimi Conservation Lands

4. Join an Aboriginal-guided quad bike adventure

The Worimi Sand Dunes of Port Stephens: They’re some of the highest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere and offer incredible sweeping views of the coastline below. Access is only possible with the local Aboriginal people and approval of the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council, which operates twice daily Aboriginal culture and quad biking adventures where visitors can learn about local culture and bush tucker, dig for fresh water and see Aboriginal midden sites along the beach. No experience is necessary, and kids as young as six can travel as pillion passengers on the guide’s bike. Find out more here.

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Photo: Campfire dinner / Credit: Far Out Adventures

5. Share campfire stories with one of Australia’s National Treasures

He is a master storyteller (songman), descended from the proud and resourceful Wardaman people of the Victoria, Flora and Katherine River Districts of the North Territory. He has written two books, speaks seven languages, and is the last senior lawman (knowledge custodian) of his people. He has travelled widely in Australia and around the world, sharing his culture with didjeridu performances and as an artist, his works are displayed in the National Gallery of Australia, the Federal Parliament and the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. Ydumduma Bill Harney is an elder, and a good friend of Far Out Adventures’ owner, Mike Keighley. That’s why he regularly joins Mike on tours throughout his homelands, camping with visitors under the stars and sharing stories of the area’s heritage. By joining one of these tours, you’ll be contributing to the maintenance of Bill’s culture, as a percentage of the money generated goes back to the Wardaman people to assist with ongoing education and cultural projects. Find out more here.

Diamond1 min Kingfisher Tours website

Photo: Kingfisher Tours

6. Visit a Diamond Mine with an Indigenous guide

Mining and Aboriginal culture may not be the most common combination, but when you travel with Kingfisher Tours, you have the unique opportunity to visit Argyle Diamond Mine – one of the world’s largest producers of diamonds and the largest supplier of natural coloured diamonds – with an Indigenous guide. After being welcomed with a traditional “Muntha,” a ceremony to ensure safe passage through the land, your local Luridgii guide will take you to the lookout at the top of the tailings dam wall and tell you about the geological formation and eventual discovery of diamonds on this country. You will learn about the sorrow and desecration of an important sacred site, but also about the opportunities and partnerships that have since benefitted the Luridgii people. You’ll get to visit the processing plant and the mine gallery and, if your circumstances allow, have the opportunity to purchase your very own diamond directly from the mine. Find out more here.

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Photo: Artist Manuel Pamkal with visitors / Credit: Top Didj

7. Learn from an award-winning artist

It’s not every day you get to meet an award-winning artist, let alone talk to one face-to-face and learn the insider secrets of their style and success. With Wayoutback Australian Safaris, you get the chance to do just that as part of a five-day 4WD Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine Tour, as you’ll visit the award-winning Top Didj Cultural Experience and learn in-depth knowledge from Brolga Award winning artist, Manuel Pamkal. Manuel was taught the traditional art of bark painting by his father at age 15, including how to harvest, burn and straighten stringy bark ready for painting and how to find and use traditional pigments like white clay (bim); red ochre (marnarr); yellow ochre (gilidih), and black charcoal (jardij) from the bush. Today, Manuel teaches young people traditional painting techniques, just like his father once taught him. Find out more here.

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Photo: Mbantua Sunset and Starlight Bush Dinner / Credit: Diverse Travel Australia (Facebook)

8. Enjoy a three-course dinner under the stars

With an Indigenous Master Bush Chef cooking you dinner, the expanse of the Milky Way above you and the sounds of the desert coming alive around you, the Mbantua Sunset and Starlight Bush Dinner in the Simpson Gap National Park just outside Alice Springs is definitely a special night to remember. Dinner is cooked over an open fire and features bush foods and traditional cooking styles of the local Aboriginal people. Find out more about this memorable experience offered by ROC certified Diverse Travel Australia here.

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Photo: Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu

9. Learn about buffalo hunting 

The Gabarlgu Billabong and South Alligator mangrove forest in Kakadu were traditionally areas where magpie geese, wallaby and fish were caught, but the arrival of Europeans brought gold mining and buffalo. When commercial buffalo hunting began in 1885, it became the only way for Indigenous people to stay on their country. With the Kakadu Historical Buffalo Camp and Wildlife Tour offered by Ecotourism and ROC certified Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu, you’ll hear first hand from local Indigenous man Victor what life was like before Europeans came to the area, and what it was like to work as a buffalo hunter in the 1970s. Lean more here.

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Photo: Mount Gulaga Hike / Credit: Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness

10. Hike up a mountain 

Mount Gulaga, on the south coast of New South Wales, is an extinct volcano rising 797 metres above sea level. It’s also the sacred centrepiece of the Yuin people, rich in cultural knowledge that’s been handed down through generations. Dwayne ‘Naja’ Bannon-Harrison, founder and managing director of Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness, takes visitors on a two hour ascent of the mountain, sharing traditional knowledge and protocol not available from anywhere else. It’s part of the company’s two-night Gulaga Creation Experience tour, which you’ll be happy to know also features a relaxing dinner and traditional yarning circle to recover from the day’s physical activities. You may even have the opportunity to experience a traditional healing ceremony! Find out more here.

 

What’s been the best unexpected Indigenous experience you’ve had? Let us know in the comments below!

 

[Header image: Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness]

 

 

 

ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA PARTNERS WITH WWF-AUSTRALIA TO BOOST TOURISM SECTOR RECOVERY

The recovery of Australia’s bushfire-affected tourism regions is being given a boost, thanks to a new partnership between Ecotourism Australia and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia).

The partnership, signed by Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman and WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman, sets forth a multilayered, long-term approach to assisting Australia’s bushfire-affected communities to build back better.                                                                                               

One of the first projects will be establishing six new certified ECO Destinations, which will utilise Ecotourism Australia’s Destination Certification framework to embed sustainable tourism and build community support. Funding from WWF-Australia will also support the development of a bushfire interpretation toolkit for ecotourism operators and a proposed bushfire recovery symposium for bushfire-affected regions to get together and share their learnings.

All of these projects build on Ecotourism Australia’s existing Bushfire Recovery Position Statement.

Dermot OGorman CEO of WWF Australia and Peter Cochrane Ecotourism Australia Director

Dermot O’Gorman (l), CEO of WWF-Australia with Peter Cochrane (r), Ecotourism Australia Director

Quandamooka Country in Queensland and East Gippsland Shire Council in Victoria will be the first regions to benefit from the agreement, with both embarking on the journey to become certified ECO Destinations.

“It’s perfect timing for us,” said Cameron Costello, Chief Executive Officer of Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), the organisation leading the charge to have

Quandamooka Country (which includes Minjerribah, or North Stradbroke Island) World Heritage listed. 

“We’re 100% committed to working collaboratively with our communities for the long-term sustainable management of Quandamooka Country. Being able to engage them through this process, especially as we celebrate Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism in 2020, is just fantastic, and aligns perfectly with our vision of Tourism for a Glad Tomorrow.”

TW photo credit QYAC

Photo credit: QYAC

East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr John White said utilising the framework of Ecotourism Australia’s internationally recognised ECO Destination program to rebuild the community after the bushfires was a logical step. 

“We want to use the opportunity we have now to rebuild our region to be stronger and more resilient than what it was before, with a community-led approach,” Cr White said. 

“To do that, we need to take a long-term, sustainable approach, and Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program is perfectly suited to that.”

Light on water Credit East Gippsland Shire Council

Credit: East Gippsland Shire Council

For Dr Claire Ellis, Chair of Ecotourism Australia, the partnership with WWF-Australia is symbolic of the integral relationship between ecotourism and conservation:

“Ecotourism and conservation are essential to each other,” she said. “More than ever before we all need to find new ways of working to grow sustainability in our sector, to create rapid and lasting outcomes for tourism, our communities and conservation. Our new partnership with WWF-Australia highlights the significant value add collaboration with like-minded agencies brings and we look forward to growing this relationship.”

For WWF-Australia, the partnership is an opportunity to help bushfire-affected communities reduce their vulnerability to future disasters and revitalise local economies through nature-based tourism.

“Many communities that rely on tourism are hurting like never before after the devasting double blow of bushfires and COVID-19,” said Mr O’Gorman. “This partnership with Ecotourism Australia will lead the charge in helping Australia’s nature-based tourism sector get back on its feet and support tourism activities that are good for people and nature.”

Updates and more details about the partnership projects will be published in due course.

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For questions and comments, please contact Lina Cronin, Communications Manager: [email protected]