GSTC began designating valuable GSTC partners as Country Representative in 2014 to serve as the “eyes and ears” and in many ways the voices of GSTC in their respective countries or regions. They have played a valuable role, helping stakeholders better understand and engage with the GSTC. The GSTC Country Representative Program will cease […]
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Global carbon accreditation programme reports solid growth in airport climate action in its 10th year
The Flinders Ranges & South Australian outback are often considered one of Australia’s ultimate travel destinations. From Adelaide, the ranges are a five-hour drive, and the region is dotted with a number of interesting townships. As we journey on an exploration of this region, come along with us. The diversity of history, amazing landscapes, rich Aboriginal heritage and variety of accommodation options make this region a unique experience. Along the way, you’ll marvel at ancient mountain ranges, red dusty roads and expansive craters which are iconic of the outback, resembling the scenes of another universe.
Self-drive or guided 4WD expeditions are the best way to get an overview of the wide expanses of this rusty, red landscape. The Outback Loop self-drive trip includes ten destinations recommended to capture the highlights of the region. Whether you’re looking for self-guided, tagalong or fully guided experiences, these ECO certified operators will have you covered:
- Pindan Tours & 4WD Training
- Just Cruisin 4WD Tours
- Skytrek & Willow Springs Station
- Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
If you prefer to see the region in stylish comfort, treat yourself to the luxury of The Ghan, the train which offers three routes to and from Adelaide, stopping at the outback South Australian towns of Coober Pedy, Marla and Manguri. If you like a guided experience, check out SA Eco Tours for small group safaris and tours.
Finally, there are also multi day hikes into this beautiful region – such as this one offered by Respecting our Culture certified Diverse Travel Australia – and, if you’re looking for something completely different, why not try exploring the Flinders on a camel? Camel Treks Australia’s guided camel treks offer great relaxation, fresh air and sunshine. The camel string travels slowly, far away from modern developments and the unpolluted atmosphere makes for great evenings under the stars around the campfire.
Where to stay
When it comes to accommodation in this beautiful region, you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for a glamping outback experience, check out Wilpena Pound Resort. It’s located within the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park, 430km north of Adelaide. Here, you can enjoy a haven of outback hospitality with 60 hotel rooms, 15 glamping safari tents, a picturesque campground, national park visitor information centre, a restaurant, bar/bistro, swimming pool and general store. There is so much to see and do with a range of 4WD tours, guided Aboriginal cultural tours, stargazing, nature and bush walks, and scenic flights over Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges.
Outback-style glamping is also available at the beautiful Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, an Advanced Ecotourism certified hotspot known for its incredible stargazing and astronomy tours. Complete with tracks, trails and scenic flights, this is an environment with abundant wildlife and minimum human interaction. The pinnacle experience here is the famous Arkaroola Ridgetop Track, only accessible on a tour.
If you want to experience an immersive outback stay, why not try an outback station accommodation? Sheep and cattle stations have been a huge part of South Australia’s history for more than 150 years, and properties in the Flinders Ranges and outback combine traditional farm life with luxury, providing a unique experience for guests. Stay on a sheep or cattle station in shearers’ quarters, cook your own meals or join your hosts for dinner. Check out Rawnsley Park Station, with its fascinating 50-year history as a traveller’s rest spot, for lush eco villa style accommodation. Catninga offers a bed & breakfast option, or caravan and camping spots surrounded by fields (the hosts have even been known to invite guests to their deck for sunset, wine and cheese!) and Skytrek & Willow Springs Station offers accommodation in cabins, a homestead or cottages, plus camping options.
Should your travels take you closer to the Queensland border, make sure you stop off at Innamincka Hotel – it’s got accommodation, an outdoor cinema, a traditional Aussie pub vibe and Australia’s most remote mini golf course!
Things to do
There is so much to discover in this region – and the landscapes you’ll find are surprisingly varied. Check out the waterfalls at Alligator Gorge in Mt Remarkable National Park (3.5 hours’ drive from Adelaide), go opal mining in Coober Pedy or marvel at Arkaroola’s granite mountain views and spinifex-covered hillsides. Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is Australia’s largest salt lake the lowest and darkest point in Australia, fifteen metres below sea level. To get a birds-eye view, check out Outback Spirit Tours, who include a fly over on their South Australian tours.
Another great thing to do is expand your knowledge on the state’s flora at the 250-hectare Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta. This garden was established to research, conserve and promote the wider appreciation of Australia’s arid zone flora, and today features thousands of plants and is home to over 150 bird species. You can enjoy peaceful walking tracks, stunning views of the Flinders Ranges or even an interesting guided tour. For coffee lovers, the visitor centre’s café, gift and plant shop will be a welcoming sight.
Finally, this region of dramatic landscapes is famous for its sunsets and stargazing opportunities. The Breakaways, deep orange mountains approximately 33 kilometres north of Coober Pedy, were once covered by an inland sea. Now, the spot flourishes with a vivid ecosystem of native fauna and flora and are a magical place to admire the sunset. Sunsets from the spectacular Rawnsley Park hilltop summit, a 30-minute drive away from Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, are also well worth the drive.
For star gazing, you can’t go past Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary – it’s famous for having the clearest skies in the southern hemisphere and houses Australia’s largest privately-owned astronomical observatories.
As night falls – whether you’re sprawled out on a luxurious bed in the middle of the Flinders Ranges or tucked up in a sleeping bag under the stars – you’re sure to fall asleep peacefully, with the sounds of nature surrounding you, drifting off into dreams of red landscapes and wide open roads, subconsciously planning your next trip back to this wonderful and fascinating region.
November 18, 2019 – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that Hilton’s corporate responsibility management system has achieved ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status. Hilton is the first major hotel company to achieve this recognition. In 2009, Hilton launched LightStay, its award-winning platform that enables the company to track its environmental and social […]
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Congratulations to Peak Potential Adventures for achieving Ecotourism certification for their tours – Six Foot Track Trek, Three Capes Trek, and Overland Track Winter Trek.
Peak Potential Adventures invite you on the adventure of a lifetime: to some of the most iconic trekking destinations in the world. Their collection of boutique, small group treks with (more than a few) creature comforts create memories and positive experiences which will exceed expectations and last a lifetime. Peak Potential Adventures provide you with all the preparation, support and training you need, so you’re ready to take that first step —no matter your age or fitness level.
Peak Potential Adventures’ founders come from army backgrounds, meaning they have extensive training in how to handle all kinds of outdoor terrain. The guiding team brings 25 years of combined industry experience, a connection and immense respect for the great outdoors and a deep understanding what makes a great adventure experience.
To enhance the experience, guides impart their knowledge of the local culture, history, flora and fauna during all treks. The experience is always improving as guides trek and climb in other parts of the world for ideas and inspiration.
The Six Foot Track Trek, in the heart of the beautiful Blue Mountains, is a two-day walk from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves and includes an overnight stay in the ecolodge at Coxs River: operated by a passionate environmental scholar and Crown Lands representative for the Coxs River and Six Foot Track region. Throughout the walk the guides discuss local environmental issues and point out rare and threatened species like the pink-purple blossomed and critically endangered Megalong Valley bottlebrush.
The Overland Track Winter Trek is perhaps the best way to experience the true essence and beauty of the Tasmanian Central Highlands. Trekkers will spend seven days walking, eating and sleeping in a landscape of ancient rainforests, moorlands, meadows and spectacular valleys carved by glaciers.
The Three Capes Trek package comprises four days spent exploring the spectacular coastlines of south-east Tasmania and three nights relaxing in four-star accommodation and restaurants. By providing specific information on the protection of national parks and a history of the Indigenous groups which once inhabited the area, the Peak Potential Adventure guides encourage appropriate behaviour while in the national park.
Peak Potential Adventures take environmental awareness and climate action seriously. Water bottles and enamel camp cups have replaced single use plastic water bottles and styrofoam cups on the Six Foot Track Trek. Guides point out areas which might be affected by climate change in the future and facilitate conversations about climate change’s impacts in general.
The company’s minimal impact policies and leave no trace principles allow clients to experience the personal transformation that nature can bring yet be assured that they will not be transforming nature. The guides lead by example, putting minimal impact bushwalking guidelines and ‘Adventure Activity Standards’ into practice and adapting them for use beyond bushwalking. A Peak Potential Adventures trek is a life changing experience with guides directing participants to take responsibility for their own environmental actions both on the trip and following it.
Peak Potential Adventures constantly strive to implement sustainable best practices across all aspects of their business. Their NSW office is committed to recycling, using minimal consumables (paper, water, power) and becoming a 100% paperless office. Currently they use 100% recycled paper and provide all information on their website (no physical brochures). They have also reduced their emissions by investing in a natural gas-powered troop carrier to take groups of eight or less to start of tracks.
The company also improves the local community by donating to charities including The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, the local community BMX Club and, through their Mt Kilimanjaro charity Trek, over $150,000 to Make-A-Wish Australia. Shane, Managing Director, talks with the troubled and disadvantaged youth of ‘Camp Breakaway’ about adventure and high altitude mountaineering in hopes of inspiring optimism and aspiration.
On the 18th of October this year, interested residents of the greater Sydney region were treated to a free guided trek through a costal section of the Bouddi National Park. Every month, Peak Potential Adventures host one of these free community walks to encourage people to go outside and enjoy the benefits of nature.
Ecotourism Australia is proud to welcome an operator who is guided by wilderness and the outdoors and who believes in the personal transformation nature can bring.
Congratulations again to Peak Potential Adventures on achieving Ecotourism certification and joining the Ecotourism Australia family.
If the stillness of water calms you and vast expanses of unspoilt nature make your spirit soar; if the mention of local oysters, cheese and wine whets your appetite and the idea of a luxurious glamping experience surrounded by paperbark trees is what your holiday dreams are made of, then the sensational South Coast of NSW may be just the destination you didn’t know you needed to discover until now.
A coastal strip that starts below Sydney and continues on to the border to Victoria, the NSW South Coast is made up of four main geographic regions: the Illawarra Coast, the Shoalhaven Coast, the Eurobodalla Coast and the Sapphire Coast. Each of these is flanked on one side by the Pacific and on the other side by national parks. It’s an endless string of picture-perfect beaches and dramatic headlands, dotted with charming towns and interspersed with experiences just waiting to be discovered as you drive through the region.
Will you come with us as we journey?
Stop 1: Illawarra Coast
Explorers will find a few hidden treasures in the top quarter of the NSW South Coast. Inland, the Hampden Bridge – reminiscent of an entrance to a British castle – welcomes you to the small hamlet of Kangaroo Valley Town, home to art galleries, local produce stores, antique shops and even a pet friendly beer garden. Just 6km down the road, on 160 sweeping acres of farmland, you’ll find Broger’s End Kangaroo Valley, a dairy farm and shed-turned-haven of sustainable living, which welcomes overnight visitors with high ceilings, reclaimed timber carpentry and double-sided fireplaces, warming both the living area and open bay.
Not far down the road is luxury accommodation and spa retreat Crystal Creek Meadows – a self-contained B&B surrounded by Morton National Park’s emerald forests and frequented by birds, wombats and kangaroos. Wildlife spotting, fruit picking, stargazing and board games go hand-in-hand here, and there’s nothing quite like home-baked scones with a view of the surrounding landscape.
Stop 2: Shoalhaven Coast
Travelling further south you’ll find a seafood-lovers’ paradise: Greenwell Point, famous for oysters and home to the relaxing South Coast Retreat. Whether it’s the spacious, family and pet friendly waterfront accommodation or the chance to get out in a boat or on one of the freely available bicycles that attracts you, this eco-friendly spot is sure to be a place you return to time and time again.
Heading back inland, you’ll find Paperbark Camp – Australia’s original glamping accommodation. Founders Irena and Jeremy Hutchings, inspired by the tented safari accommodation they discovered on their own travels through Africa, built this hideaway among the trees some 20 years ago, laying the groundwork for many others to follow and giving international visitors and city escapees alike the chance to be immersed in nature.
Speaking of immersion – on your way down the coast, be sure to stop at Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness and have a chat to founder Dwayne Bannon-Harrison. This Aboriginal owned and operated cultural service provider runs Aboriginal tourism experiences in the Narooma/Tilba region on Yuin Country and also works with the corporate, event and education sectors to help ensure that traditional Koori knowledge is upheld in the region.
If you happen to be on the lookout for a wedding venue (or just like the idea of a bungalow in the forest), make sure you stop in at Bewong River Retreat, just 10 minutes’ drive from beautiful Jervis Bay. Nestled amongst temperate forest on 160 acres of Australian bushland, this riverfront accommodation is halfway between Sydney and Canberra on the map and, as such, a perfect venue for special occasions – but be prepared for some unusual wedding guests!
If you prefer to stay by the beach, The Cove Jervis Bay may by just the spot for you. Sandy feet and windswept hair are the style of choice here, and what better way to relax from a day on the beach than in an outdoor bathtub surrounded by nature? Oh – and if you’re still on the lookout for a wedding venue (maybe llamas aren’t your thing – which we don’t understand, but we won’t judge you), then rejoice: The Cove is a magical place for weddings, too.
Stop 3: Eurobodalla Coast
After all that lazing about, it’s time to get a bit active. Luckily, your drive south now takes you into the stunning and serene Eurobodalla – a word which literally means ‘land of many waters.’ Here, long, empty beaches invite hand-in-hand strolls, the morning light provides the backdrop for early rising surfers and the interwoven expanses of rivers, estuarine and ocean waterways draw you in. It’s the perfect place to hire a sea kayak, meander peacefully and feel the weight of the world lift off your shoulders. The best place to do this? Region X, who offer both self-hire kayaks and guided kayak tours. They even have glass-bottom kayaks, giving you a fresh perspective on life below the surface.
Stop 4: Sapphire Coast
You’re nearing the end of your trip through NSW’s south coast, and in fact by now you are halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, and just a three-hour drive from Canberra. Unless you’re heading inland to explore our nation’s capital or perhaps travelling onto Mount Kosciuszko after being inspired by our recent journey into Australia’s alpine regions, stop in at quaintly historic Central Tilba town for morning tea before taking the Coastal Wilderness Drive (Tourist Route 9) south to the turnoff to Haighs Road and Tanja Lagoon Camp Luxury Safari Tent Accommodation, your resting place for the night. Did we mention the NSW South Coast region is a glamper’s paradise?
Nature lovers will feel completely at home here, as a stay at Tanja Lagoon Camp is all about immersing yourself in your surroundings and appreciating the simple things: comfortable beds, slow breakfasts, bushwalks, star gazing. If you revelled in your sea kayaking experience in Eurobodalla, you can rent a canoe or kayak here too, for free – and if you want to share your time on the water with the local pelicans and swans, try an early morning or late afternoon paddle.
If you’re someone who prefers to explore their surroundings on dry ground, with feet secure in comfortable hiking boots, then make sure you stop further south along the Sapphire Coast to experience one of Australia’s best undiscovered walks: the 30km Light to Light walk through Ben Boyd National Park, from Boyd’s Tower to the Green Cape Lighthouse. The landscape here is diverse and dynamic: heathland to forest, tea tree groves to banksia woodlands.
If you’ve got time to do the whole hike, we recommend checking out Light 2 Light Coastal Walks for locally-guided, accommodated and amazing-food included options, but if you’ve only got a little bit of time, you can simply enjoy a small section of the track as well.
Who knows – you may just be back in this incredible region next year.
Planning a getaway? Make sure your vacation is a win for the environment. © CHRIS GASH/WWF-US Planning a getaway? Consider destinations, hotels, and tour operators that meet the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standards. By doing so, you can minimize your environmental impact and send a powerful message to the travel industry about […]