Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)]
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
For questions and comments, please contact Lina Cronin, Communications Manager: [email protected]
With regional holidays starting to be allowed in some Australian states by the beginning of June, we are eager to leave the house and enjoy the beautiful autumn days on the beach, surrounded by mountain ranges or in the middle of lush rainforest. Although the earth was able to rejuvenate over the past weeks, with all our travel excitement coming up, we should not ignore the fact that travelling responsibly is still so important for our environment.
So, how do we do that?
Being an eco traveller already starts with packing our suitcases. A simple tip is to pack lightly. Not only does this literally ease our load by letting us carry lighter luggage, but for the environment, every kilogram counts, too. That’s because the more a vehicle weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces.
Another tip is to take reusable items with you on your trip, whether it’s your refillable water bottle, reusable bag or food container. Those can be used for packing purposes as well as for your next grocery trip at your destination. By taking these, you’re reducing the amount of garbage contamination in your destination, by having the option to refuse plastic alternatives and sticking to the good habits you’ve likely already formed at home.
While we can’t travel overseas yet, there are lots of places closer to home to explore and travelling to these will enable you to have a smaller carbon footprint than if you were flying long-distance. Check out Ecotourism Australia’s (EA) Green Travel Guide and see what is offered around your region and rest assured that all the experiences listed there are certified as being sustainable to an internationally recognised standard. When you’re travelling, look for these logos:
Whenever we start thinking about our travel plans, we have to remember to check current travel restrictions. We might not be able to travel in big groups, but instead we can decide to holiday together with our households or families and share the ride. This will not only allow us to spend quality time with our loved ones, but also potentially reduce our negative impacts on the environment.
Photo: Broger’s End Kangaroo Valley (Ecotourism & Climate Action Business certified)
Another great way to be an eco traveller is to support the locals. Locally produced goods are better for the environment, as they haven’t travelled as far as products from overseas. Eating at a local café or trying a local delicacy will also allow you to understand the places you’re visiting better and give you a chance to interact with local farmers and craftspeople who often have great stories to share.
Whenever you stay overnight, try to stick to an eco lifestyle. Instead of taking a new towel each day, reuse the one you have. Whether it’s recycling, avoiding long showers or switching off the light whenever we leave the room, these are all things that most of us do at home, so why stop doing them whenever we stay somewhere else?
Eco friendly travel options are found worldwide and the demand for them is increasing. By staying informed and being conscious of your travel habits, you can do your part to keep our earth clean.
[Header image: Cairns Adventure Group (Ecotourism & Climate Action Business certified; Green Travel Leader; Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame)]
Australians are great travellers. For young people, travelling abroad in their early twenties remains a ‘rite of passage;’ empty nesters joining a river cruise through Europe and people of all ages going for their ‘cheap trip’ to South East Asia are still the dreams of most.
Within tourism, we’ve become dependent on an ever-growing international market for our tourism product at home – especially from China, which provides over a million visitors to Australia a year. But now, with the borders closed and Australians innately driven to travel, what happens if the borders remain ‘closed for the foreseeable future’ as has been suggested by our Prime Minister?
Studies from Bernstein Research (reported in Skift) show Australia may survive quite nicely with a possible increase in overall spend of close to $9 billion and a positive impact on our GDP of 0.6%, making Australia one of the winners from a post COVID – but not open border – business environment.
Tourism Australia is leading the push for Australians to take a ‘staycation’ this year, asking Australians to visit their backyard and explore our amazing country. Each state and territory will jump to push their case and regions will contribute to the momentum of competing interests with potential visitors about to receive some incredible offers and blanket coverage on social media, TV and everywhere.
Nature based tourism has the potential to be exactly what this holiday at home market could be looking for. It provides the experience and reassurance that people emerging from an enforced isolation will be seeking. Ecotourism can provide the opportunity to reconnect people with what matters most and in a safe setting. People will shy away from large groups, crowded places and enclosed spaces and they will seek openness, wellness, connection, sustainably managed businesses and the opportunity to just be outside.
“Ecotourism can provide the opportunity to reconnect people with what matters most and in a safe setting.”
Adjusting to this opportunity will be challenging and will require a new approach by many. The tyranny of distance still applies to this huge country: for example, how do we get people to our remote regions with social distancing seeming to put a stop to domestic flights, leaving places like the Kimberley, South Australian Outback and Far North Queensland the domain of grey nomads? How can we afford to run tours with minimal guests, and how do we limit visitor numbers to be COVID safe, despite the forecast increase in demand?
Already we have seen some smart tour operators responding to these challenges by shifting their products to better cater for this domestic focused clientele and building interest and momentum while the lockdowns continue. These include:
- Exceptional Kangaroo Island, which was badly affected by both the 2019-20 bushfires and COVID-19, conducting weekly live broadcasts on social media and working with agents and wholesalers to reposition their product to the domestic market
- Sea Darwin launching an online business selling gin and other spirits that tell the stories of the local environment and history
- King Leopold Air using the downtime to work on improving their business, using the ECO Certification criteria as a guide
- Phillip Island Nature Parks launching a podcast telling stories of the penguins and locals who look after them to evoke interest in visiting the island
- Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom focusing on maintenance and polishing paperwork and procedures, ensuring they’ll be ‘fighting fit’ on their return
Different states are taking different paths to reopening and whilst challenges will likely remain for the foreseeable future, our operators are resilient, agile and planning ahead to ensure they build back better for when they can once again welcome visitors.
There are plenty of reasons to be positive, but it won’t be a return to what was before. We need to be laser focused on what the market will be seeking and understand the crisis has truly shaken Australia, and the world. We can’t afford to pretend this was just an inconvenience and as if by magic it will all just disappear.
There is a real opportunity here. We can rebuild our industry with sustainability at its core, where communities welcome guests because they see the benefit to them; where the true tourism asset – our environment and culture – is protected and valued and where tourism contributes in all ways to the region’s own sustainability. Managing tourism sustainability is just good management and managing for the long-term benefit of all is not just a smart strategy for the recovery from COVID-19, but for the recovery of our planet for generations to come.
[Header image: Kimberley Tours (Ecotourism & ROC certified)]
Congratulations to City Terraces Apartments Cairns for becoming a certified Climate Action Business! This accommodation identifies itself as a clean, caring, convenient holiday accommodation in the heart of Cairns CBD, but what it offers is much more. Popular with holiday makers and corporate guests who seek a quiet, green retreat, City Terraces Apartments Cairns has a communal feel which reflects the owners’ commitment to sustainability.
Photo credit: Booking.com
Recognised as a local business sustainability leader (Cairns Post July 2019), City Terraces Apartments Cairns is a champion of local products, services and events. It sources locally grown and manufactured products wherever possible and partners with climate change action committed business Bunzl who supplies it with sugarcane pulp toilet paper, vegetable-based soap and pump bottle refillable amenities.
Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook
Whilst still on the grid, City Terraces Apartments Cairns has invested in solar panels and investigated the electricity reduction benefits of LED upgrades in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. Each quarter it rewards the apartment which uses the least electricity and publicises its “Eco Warrior Winners”. Reusing and sharing of resources to reduce waste and emissions is encouraged by the free-cycle basket and community bookshelf where departing guests can drop off anything useable that they no longer need. Guests can also borrow Boomerang Bags for their shopping, a bike for travelling and request a City Terraces ceramic mug at the adjacent café. A fridge magnet teaches guests how to separate waste to make the most of Cairns’ modern waste treatment facility, which will be able to process PET plastic locally from mid-2020.
Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns
As part of its commitment to sustainability, City Terraces Apartments Cairns has become a member of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre where the managers attend climate change talks including “Anthropogenic climate change: what can we expect in the Wet Tropics this century.” City Terraces Apartments Cairns is further involved in the local community via its support of Smile with Kids by donating room nights to charity auctions each year. The accommodation’s Facebook page abounds with posts promoting local sustainability and cultural events and initiatives including theYarrabah Music & Cultural Festival, Plastic Free July & Waste Levy 101 (library talk), and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.
Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook
With its lush gardens, saltwater pool, barbeque area and community herb garden, it’s easy to see why this accommodation is popular with visitors to Tropical North Queensland. The waterwise choice of native plants means the grounds provide living space, food and shelter to local wildlife, too.
Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook
Once again, we welcome City Terraces Apartments Cairns to the Ecotourism Australia family, and congratulate the business on achieving certification!
Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook
For more information, check out City Terraces Apartments Cairns on our Green Travel Guide.