Happy International Women’s Day 2021! Ecotourism Australia are proud to be an organisation driven by hard working and passionate women. EA’s Board is chaired by ecotourism expert and pioneer Dr Claire Ellis and she is joined on the Board by Directors Alysia Brandenburg, Dr Noreen Breakey, Caroline Densley, Wendy Hills, Janet Mackay and Rosie Sandover.
Now over to our members! Earlier this month, Ecotourism Australia sent out a survey asking you to share the inspiring stories of women who are shaping the future of the ecotourism industry in Australia. We would love to share the responses with you.
IWD 2021’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, EA is committed to championing female voices in the ecotourism industry who are challenging traditional ideas and providing new perspectives.
Environmental Manager, Busselton Jetty
Sophie is currently employed by Busselton Jetty Incorporated as the Environmental Manager. She began her tourism career in 2011 when she was employed as a Tour Guide at the Underwater Observatory when it reopened after extensive refurbishment. This role was short lived as she was promoted to the role of Underwater Observatory Manager in 2012. It was during this time that Sophie continued with her Marine Science degree and went on to graduate with honours. After the birth of her daughter Isabelle, Sophie returned to the Busselton Jetty as the Environmental Manager in 2017. Her responsibilities include overseeing educational programs, marine monitoring and research, tour guiding, further development of the Underwater Observatory customer journey and future development of the proposed Australian Underwater Discovery Centre.
“She isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty”
Sophie and the dive team clean the windows and the brackets of the Underwater Observatory weekly. This involves her using her SCUBA diving qualifications, braving the water of Geographe Bay (rain, hail or shine) and scrubbing the eleven windows below the water’s surface for upwards of an hour. Some days are more trying than others, but Sophie always returns to the administration building with a smile on her face. Sophie’s SCUBA diving qualifications, including specialties of deep and wreck diving help her to ensure that the subsea components of the Observatory are maintained to a high standard and bring a real-world perspective to her tours.
Sophie founded the Busselton Jetty Pile Rehabilitation project in 2015. This project requires using fragments of existing corals and sponges found on Busselton Jetty piles and relocating them to new piles installed at the jetty. The project has been a huge success receiving national and international recognition. The program helps spread awareness and in turn, supports further development at the not for profit, Busselton Jetty.
Executive Director, Morris Group (Northern Escape Collection)
Hayley is the sustainability values driving force behind the Morris Group of companies, including the award-winning Northern Escape Collection ecolodges. Hayley co-founded the environmental NGO Sustainable Table in 2009 to empower people to make decisions about ethical eating and was also central to setting up the Morris Family Foundation, which grants between $2-$3million annually to projects fighting climate change, promoting sustainable and regenerative agriculture, equitable growth, just societies, and health and wellbeing for all.
As the Executive Director of the Morris Group, she has ensured that these values of investing in good people and working to protect the planet through ethical and sustainable business leadership are throughout the award-winning Northern Escape Collection ecolodges. While busy ‘walking the walk’ of running a business striving for sustainability across operations, she is also a thought leader in environmental philanthropy, having been a board member with the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network, and hosting the Deep Dive at Orpheus Island each year to promote philanthropic investment in projects to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Hayley shows it is possible to run a successful luxury tourism business while also embedding sustainability across all operations, from big things like solar panels to small things like having no single use plastic at the ecolodges and hiring chefs who bring a sustainable food philosophy.
CEO, Women Want Adventure
Women across Australia are taking a walk on the wild side, getting back to nature to find their ‘inner wild’ and its Founder of Women Want Adventure, Monique Farmer making it happen. Monique started Women Want Adventure while working as a Physical Health and Outdoor Education teacher 4 years ago. She’s created a community that’s all about supporting, nurturing and empowering women to kick off their heels, lace up their boots and get back to nature. She’s a passionate advocate for educating women on our natural environment and experiencing the outdoors in a safe way for all fitness and experience levels. Since starting Women Want Adventure, she’s been guiding over 4800 women across Australia on hiking, kayaking, camping and a range of outdoor experience.
Monique recognized a need within the outdoor industry to encourage more women to break down barriers to getting outside and challenge themselves. She’s helped change thousands of lives, including impacting the Outdoor Industry standards for female guides.
You won’t find Monique behind the desk, she’s out there guiding trips, paddling the kayak, chatting with women on the trails, setting up tarps and immersed in what it takes to run a business with impact. She’s all about bringing women together and truly deserves the recognition of the impact she has had in women’s lives.
Lizzie Corke OAM
CEO, Great Ocean Road Ecolodge/Conservation Ecology Centre/Wildlife Wonders
In 2000, Lizzie co-founded the Conservation Ecology Centre to develop and deliver solutions to the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways. She works to facilitate this important work by leading a team committed to effective conservation and through organisational development, building partnerships, and engaging community. Ecotourism plays a critical role in the CEC’s funding and engagement programs – the Centre established the Great Ocean Ecolodge in 2004 and Lizzie is currently working the development of a new social enterprise ecotourism venture ‘Wildlife Wonders’ on the Great Ocean Road.
Lizzie is the recipient of the Banksia Foundation 2005 Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year award and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2020 for service to conservation and the environment. She has previously served as a Director of Ecotourism Australia and as Chair of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Community Advisory Group. Lizzie and team have just launched Wildlife Wonders, a new ecotourism attraction on the Great Ocean Road supporting sustainable funding models for conservation and generating local, regional employment and business opportunities through the social enterprise aspect of the operation.
Marketing and Management, Pumpkin Island and Elysian Retreat
Laureth Rumble’s childhood dream took her from a small diving mecca, Sodwana Bay, in South Africa to living on Pumpkin Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Her experience in hospitality was shaped by a series of family-owned restaurants, boutique hotels and guest houses where she started working as a young girl. Her spirit for adventure took her to all corners of the globe from mixing cocktails on super yachts in the Mediterranean to looking after celebrity children.
Now, Laureth and her husband Wayne have set their sights on boutique, sustainable island retreats. They pride themselves on exceeding guest expectations and providing an exceptional experience with a strong emphasis on giving people the chance to disconnect from busy lives.
Her love of the ocean, art and all things beautiful have inspired the style of the retreats and their combined passion for the environment and renewable energy have set the tone for their ethos and operational structures.
Laureth’s passion for people, her caring nature and her vision for a better future inspires her guests, the teams on the islands and friends and family.
CEO, Busselton Jetty
Lisa is a fantastic spokesperson for the ecotourism industry and uses her extensive network to communicate issues and work on solutions. Lisa likes to keep moving forward and consistently looks for new ways to improve the Busselton Jetty ecotourism model.
“Lisa does what she says she will do – every time!”
With a Bachelor of Business, a Masters in Regional Development, and Environmental Auditing qualifications, Lisa has worked in the non-profit, public sector and private sector for the past 28 years. As CEO of Busselton Jetty Incorporated, one of Western Australia’s most spectacular ecotourism tourist attractions, Lisa is committed to ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the Jetty
Lisa lives in Busselton with husband Nathan and daughter Calista, two dogs and two bunnies, with a son Cooper at University in Perth. Lisa came into tourism as the CEO of Busselton Jetty in 2015, and it is her mission is to ensure the Jetty is here for future generations.
Ecoguide, tour leader, snorkel instructor and Coxswain, Polperro Dolphin Swims & Canopy of Care
Jess started her career as a research assistant with Polperro Dolphin Swims & Canopy of Care, where she would observe dolphin behaviours and collect data at the direction of PhD students. She then went on to train as an instructor, qualify as an Eco Guide and became a marine biologist in her own right.
“Jess is a natural educator and enthrals tourists, students and even politicians with her deep passion for the ocean”
As part of her role, she delivers Polperro Dolphin Swims’ Canopy of Care program to adolescents in a manner that not only brings the curriculum to life but also enables students to become custodians of their future. Jess is applauded for her dedication to ensuring access and inclusion for all abilities, backgrounds and cultures.
Being young and able to relate readily to all ages, she is especially able to ensure young people go away with hope rather than helplessness, with ability rather than inaction and with amazing and indelible memories to last a lifetime. Jess has shared her knowledge and practices within the Wildlife Act (Marine Mammals) with whale tour operators in the Pacific Islands. She has travelled widely, applied herself to studies and shared without reserve to ensure that caring for the future is a shared responsibility and something we can all contribute to.
Owner, Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary
Joy Ensor’s career in ecotourism started with Perth’s King Park Guides back in the late 1970’s, completing their hands-on training to become an accredited tour guide. In 1988 she then purchased a raw 100-acre bush block with her husband Simon and over the past 30 years has built it into a thriving ecotourism destination. As Joy and husband Simon developed Yelverton Brook into a predator-free sanctuary, she began offering it as a safe release site for endangered and rehabilitated injured native wildlife.
As a member of Ecotourism Australia’s Hall of Fame, educating people on native Australia is of paramount importance to Joy and she has regularly spoken at conferences around Australia. Joy was a founding member of the Skal International Bunbury/Margaret River chapter, later becoming President of the group. She has often attended National Assemblies, speaking on Ecotourism and it is benefits to the wider tourism members.
Joy was a board member of Australia’s South West, and member to the Regional Tourism Association. She believes her industry involvement importing to adding in a small operator’s perspective with a strong ecotourism focus to champion, helping people to see the much bigger picture of the impact of tourism.
Over the years, Joy has developed Wildlife Journals for guests to record their sightings which make remarkably interesting reading. She also writes about the most popular wildlife, birdlife and fauna on their website as well as sharing live videos on their Facebook page.
[Cover photo: Shea Wittig, Dr Noreen Breakey, Nadine Schramm, Fay Dawson, Claire Ellis, Alysia Brandenburg, Caroline Densley, Wendy Hills, Janet Mackay and Alyssa Sanders]