Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.


The magic of storytelling lies in its ability to simultaneously educate and inspire you; to pull you into another’s world and then spin you around to see how their life relates to yours.

When Michelle Reynolds, great granddaughter of pastoralist Steve Reynolds, tells the story of Skytrek Willow Springs Station, a Nature Tourism certified working sheep station 21km north east of Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, it’s easy to see all the elements of a great tale of endurance and adaptability.

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Brendan, Carmel and Michelle Reynolds // Credit: inmyshoesPhotography

Once a large family business in Merino Wool, Skytrek diversified into tourism when Michelle’s parents Brendan and Carmel joined her grandparents, Kevin and Margaret, as partners in the farm. With long-term environmental and economic sustainability of the farm as their prime motivation, they could not have imagined the many benefits that this sideways step would bring.

A humble but modern recently constructed shearer’s quarters that was only being used by farm workers for up to two weeks of the year was easily converted into accommodation for visitors, and Skytrek’s prime location near Wilpena Pound meant that their first venture into the tourism industry was relatively easy.

Tourism thrived in the region and despite the many hurdles they faced – a collapse in wool prices, high interest rates, droughts, floods and bushfires, just to name a few – the Reynolds family resolutely continued expanding the tourism side of their business. Soon, other existing buildings were converted to additional accommodation for travellers: the former Jackeroo’s Cottage became a self-contained cabin with two bedrooms, and the building which once housed School of the Air classes became a quaint holiday home perfect for couples and young families.

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Skytrek Willow Springs Station’s accommodation is the perfect place to relax. / Credit: Skytrek Willow Springs Station

But the Reynolds family didn’t stop there: in 1994, Brendan and Carmel opened a 70km 4WD track which catapulted Skytrek from a station with some visitor accommodation to a destination for 4WD enthusiasts from all over Australia. Soon, the success of the 4WD track meant the family had to set up extra facilities for people to camp, and an increased workload meant that they had to bring on additional staff.

By the time Michelle came back to take over the tourism part of the business in 2011, her parents had diversified into yet another direction by starting a waste management business together with neighbouring properties. This business service today services many other parts of the region including Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business certified Rawnsley Park Station, Advanced Ecotourism and ROC certified Wilpena Pound Resort and others.

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The stunning landscape around Skytrek 4WD track. / Credit: Skytrek Willow Springs Station

The tourism side of Skytrek, which is by now a stand-alone enterprise, meanwhile employs two permanent staff and two additional casual employees throughout the main tourism season.

Although the Reynolds have diversified their work significantly since the station’s early days as a sheep farm, Michelle says that pastoralism is still a major focus of the station.

“Despite the drought, wool growing is still a major focus,” she says.  “We’ve destocked to just a bare minimum of breeding ewes, under a quarter of our normal carrying capacity for the station. However, we remain confident it will bounce back in time – unfortunately tourism can’t make it rain.”

Whilst tourism can’t bring rain, it can bring visitors to the region who in turn provide jobs and income for local residents (not only stations but local cafes, petrol stations and stores benefit when people visit the region). Tourists also bring seasonal income which can help through periods of drought or downturn, and perhaps most importantly, they can provide real mental health benefits for rural landowners.

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Camping under the stars. / Credit: Skytrek Willow Springs Station

“The opportunity to see the area through someone else’s eyes is uplifting and reminds us how beautiful the landscape can be even at its harshest,” says Michelle.

“Sometimes just that short conversation with a visitor can completely change your day.”

Interestingly, whilst the drought provides an ongoing uphill battle for the Reynolds in terms of their pastoral side of their business, it’s not something which has put off Skytrek’s visitors. In fact, Michelle notes, guests are coming to realise that you “don’t need wildflowers or running water to make the Flinders Ranges beautiful.”

“Visitors to the region aren’t just looking for a resort to relax anymore,” she explains.

“People want to be educated, they want to learn about the different lifestyles and find out new and exciting things. We regularly get questions from our guests about life out here – how does the station work? What are the daily activities? How do the stock survive in such difficult times? This is bringing more meaning to their everyday lives back at home. They are appreciating where their clothes are from, how the meals got on their plates, etc. Additionally, we find people are being more respectful around water usage and their environmental impact.”

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The entrance sculpture/sign to Skytrek was designed and created by South Australian artist George Aldridge. It is designed to show how powerfully art and tourism can work together to capture the essence of the landscape, its spirit and the authentic experiences available to guests here. / Credit: Skytrek Willow Springs Station

It’s this storytelling aspect that is key to the visitor experience at Skytrek, and which can really leave a lasting impact on visitors.

“Tourism gives you the ability to socialise and be proud of something,” Michelle says. “Your product may put a smile on someone’s face and leave them with an unforgettable memory that they may still be talking about 20 years later. It’s an adventure that imprints on their minds, [something] that they may continue to tell their children about for the rest of their lives.

“That is something we can be proud of through this difficult drought.’

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The beautiful scenery surrounding the station. / Credit: Skytrek Willow Springs Station

To find out more about Skytrek Willow Springs Station, check out their website or Facebook page.


[Header image credit: Skytrek Willow Springs Station]




Our ecotourism journey has been full of adventures and opportunities. We successfully applied for Advanced Ecotourism certification in 2018 so we could display our commitment to sustainability. We have always felt what we are doing is ‘bigger’ than our business of Noosa Everglades Kayak Tours. That said, we have a responsibility to protect sacred natural places and to educate our guests and other operators within our industry. Since we began the journey our business has grown in leaps and bounds and we have been inspired to further develop our sustainability and ecotourism practices.

Advanced Ecotourism Certified Kanu Kapers guest post

Operating kayak tours in a pristine natural area, it became apparent sustainability practices were needed to take us in to the future. Sustainability for Kanu Kapers means we can operate a successful and profitable business with little or no impact on this delicate eco system.

Established in 2002, our passion is to provide unique and awe-inspiring experiences to people of all ages, whilst promoting love and respect for nature and preserving the Noosa Everglades System for future generations to enjoy. Considered by Lonely Planet as ‘One of the most pristine water ways in the world!’, we feel privileged to have created a business where we share such an awesome Noosa day tour experience whilst educating our  guests from all over the world on sustainability and the cultural heritage of this special place we love so much.

Top of world 2 kayaks Kanu Kapers guest post 

Our Kayaks

Kanu Kapers’ kayaks are an integral component of our tours, designed and purchased with sustainability at our core. They leave no trace on this pristine waterway. They are locally handcrafted expedition sea kayaks that are comfortable, fast, sleek and stable. The kayaks are durable (the original four still in use today) and have a long water line and rudder system, allowing guests to enjoy the full extent of the Noosa Everglades 65km waterway in comfort with full kit and without the need for a motor.

Our Sustainable Kayak Adventures and Business Practices


Kanu Kapers continues to be recognised as the best sustainable adventure tour company in Australia. We will use our sustainability innovations – to inspire change for other businesses and help to implement solutions to environmental issues.

Applying for our accreditation inspired us to:

  • Implement recycling with vigour-including compost to grow fresh veggies
  • Become Plastic Free Champions by eradicating single use plastics from our operation
  • Work towards being carbon neutral by 2020. We continually strive to reduce our carbon footprint.

Every morning following our welcome to country we share with our guests Kanu Kapers’ commitment to sustainability. We then take the opportunity to educate our guests on their carbon emissions created by their drive from Noosa and give them the option to offset their carbon via a donation to our partners the Queensland Koala Crusaders. Our courtesy bus travels to Noosa and Sunshine Beach every morning to transport our day tour guests, so carbon offset is imperative as this is the only aspect which hampered us being carbon neutral. We believe due to the generous donations from our Noosa Day Tour and Multi Day Tour guests we have achieved our goal of being carbon neutral.

Our Partnership with The QLD Koala Crusaders

This has been our proudest and most important partnership innovation to date. The QLD Koala Crusaders ( are on a mission to create safe koala habitat in QLD, in order to help improve koala numbers.

While educating our guests about delicate koala habitat we give them an opportunity to be Koala Heroes by offsetting their carbon and donating their gold coins to the QLD Koala Crusaders.

Koala Offset emissions Kanu Kapers guest post

How you can become an Ecotourism Hero

Anyone operating a tourism business or any business for that matter can make sustainability a priority. You can undertake a sustainability audit assessing your recycling practices and anything you do that harms the environment. Where can you reduce the use of harmful chemicals which damage our precious natural environment? Kanu Kapers Australia is a chemical free operation, using only natural cleaning and other products. We also switched to a carbon neutral power company. Is there a wildlife charity you can become partners with?

It feels good to operate sustainably and we have found our guest numbers have increased on our Noosa kayak tours because people are looking for clean green experiences.


Thank you to Kanu Kapers for sharing their ecotourism journey with us! To find out more about them, visit their website or Facebook page.

If you’re an Ecotourism Australia certified operator and you’ve been inspired to share your ecotourism journey in the world, get in touch



With beach, reef, rockpools and trails a stroll from guests’ doorsteps, the newly certified Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat is the perfect place for a family holiday.

Ecotourism Australia congratulates Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat on achieving Nature Tourism Certification for their cottage, oceanfront villas, delux and studio cabins and powered and unpowered camping.

An hour and a half drive from Melbourne, nestled between Phillip Island and Inverloch, this retreat is also an ideal home-base for exploring the Bass Strait, Cape Woolamai or Cape Paterson. The stunning coastal views and atmosphere of this landscape can be enjoyed from accommodation suiting any guest. The villa and cottage design and neutral colour scheme incorporating natural light, double glazing and insulation enhance guests’ experiences without the intrusion of excessive noise and artificial light. Guests bringing their own tent or caravan have the comfort of a communal kitchen, barbeque and dining areas; and access to courts for tennis, cricket, volleyball and other sports.

Ending a short stroll from retreat grounds, the George Bass Coastal Walk offers clifftop views of  whale migration, birds and native flowers. The new linkage with the Nyroa-Wonthaggi Rail Trail, skirting the retreat, makes accessing the Kilcunda Coastal and Punchbowl Reserves, historic sites, and close by towns a breeze.

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Photo: George Bass Coastal Walk, rockpool / Monica Muranyi, Flickr

Planted with drought tolerant plants requiring no watering, the grounds are designed and managed with sustainability in mind. Grounds staff are inducted in environmental management procedures and any work with potential environmental impacts is discussed in-depth. Mechanical weed removal is used preferentially and pesticides, carefully selected for minimal impacts, used sparingly. The retreat is working to re-establish native vegetation by propagating and replanting species native to the area, along with a weed eradication program and the pest control management plan (supported by Bass Coast Shire). Permission is also granted for Landcare to plant vegetation which prevents coastal erosion on their land.

The retreat is working to keep their resource use low. The reception and amenities’ hot water are solar powered, and the washing machines and shower heads are water efficient. Their recycle and reuse management program ensures broken equipment is repaired first, then replaced with usable parts saved.

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Photo: Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat villas / Facebook

Holidaying with Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat supports the sustainability of the region. They source supplies from local businesses and employ local people. They encourage patronisation of the array of local tours, restaurants and attractions by making recommendations, supplying brochures, and creating accommodation packages which include local services (i.e. discounted cruises).

Kilcunda considers the experience and satisfaction of every guest when deciding how to improve the Holiday Retreat.

Congratulations again on joining the Ecotourism Australia family!

For more on the Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat visit their website and Facebook.


[Cover image: ocean view cottage front veranda]


One of the many memorable moments of last year’s (2019) Global Eco Conference was Bundaberg Regional Council’s presentation on their new program for Reducing Urban Glow (Reducing urban glow: supporting sea turtle survival using open data)  Created in collaboration with university researchers, community groups, tourism organisations and other bodies, this program “aims to empower the community to make informed decisions about their use of light and take positive action to reduce urban glow.” [Bundaberg Regional Council, 2020].

Why is reducing urban glow important for the Bundaberg region?

Reducing urban glow is particularly important for the Bundaberg region, as its coastline and the beautiful Mon Repos beach support the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland. This region actually has the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region!

This nesting turtle population has become a prime attraction for tourists to the region (Mon Repos hosts the only ranger-guided turtle encounter available on the east coast) and it is instrumental for research into turtle conservation. The success of nesting and hatching turtles on the Bundaberg coastline is critical for the survival of the endangered loggerhead turtle.

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Nature Tourism certified Kelly’s Beach Resort offers Turtle Tour Packages to visitors to the region.

How does the Reducing Urban Glow project work?

The Bundaberg regional community, especially in the prolific turtle nesting sites along the coastline, have a real sense of ownership and responsibility for the success of the breeding turtle population in the region. The collaborative Reducing Urban Glow project has not only brought together the council, community members and the tourism industry; it’s also engaged everyone in tangible ways to make a difference and work together towards a common goal.

At its crux, the project seeks to improve the nesting and hatchling success of Bundaberg’s sea turtle population. It consists of a network of sensors that produce a publicly accessible heat map; the data from which also guides changes to disruptive streetlights.  

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Reducing Urban Glow heat map from 29 January 2019. Updated heat maps like these are currently generated every 5 minutes. // Credit: Bundaberg City Council

What has urban glow got to do with turtles?

The most important factor in sustaining turtle populations is the survival of hatchlings to maturity. Statistics aren’t promising – only 1 in 1000 turtles make it.

Populations are most vulnerable to any kind of human disturbance during nesting season (November – March). Beach erosion, predation (by both native and invasive species) and conflict with human beach use (i.e. night driving, resort furniture) are threats to nesting turtles and their young.

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Photo: TEQ / Lauren Bath

The biggest impact, however, comes from a less direct source: artificial light.  Because turtles have evolved to locate the sea by observing its brighter horizon, artificial light (a form of light pollution) interferes with their ability to navigate to and from the sea. Hatchlings head instead towards the brighter light of coastal settlements, expending energy needed to reach feeding grounds and encountering hazards such as roads and remaining exposed when predatory birds appear at dawn to feed.

Urban glow spilling onto turtle nesting beaches is one of the few variables which the Bundaberg regional community can directly influence. Bundaberg Regional Council’s Reducing Urban Glow project began in December 2018 and is scheduled to run, throughout the breeding season, until June 2020.

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Photo: Nesting turtle returning to the ocean / Bundaberg Regional Council

Project background

For this project the council, in conjunction with the Sea Turtle Alliance, applied successfully for Ergon energy to fund the streetlight component. Trial alteration of seventeen of the most disruptive streetlights, close to Oaks, Kelly’s and Archies Beaches, and Elliot Heads Beach, took place in May 2018. Some were moved across the street and others were attached lower on the pole to reduce the light spillage towards the ocean.  More than two hundred streetlights are currently in the process of being replaced with energy efficient LEDs – these produce more light for less electricity meaning less lights are required. Ergon energy are also working with the council to identify opportunities and locations for lights which can be dimmed or turned off as required.

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Photo: Mon Repos Beach / TEQ

Benefits and how to get involved

The greatest expected benefit of the program is not from changes to streetlights but the heat map’s promotion of more turtle considerate light use by residents and businesses. If you’re visiting Bundaberg, you can get involved by checking whether your accommodation or tour operator:

  • Uses minimal outdoor lighting, preferably shaded, and on motion sensors or timers
  • Has installed turtle friendly light fixtures which focus light on the ground and on objects requiring illumination, minimising spillage into sky and towards the beach
  • Uses blinds or curtains to minimise glow from indoor lighting
  • Educates guests on how to avoid turtle disturbance: i.e. No flash photography; dark clothing

Other simple things which can help turtle hatchings survive are:

  • Planting vegetation to create light barriers and/or to stabilize sand dunes
  • Providing alternative decorations to balloons and alternate carriers to plastic bags – both of which can end up on the beach and in the ocean
  • Using red-light torches
  • Removing beach furniture at night
  • Sticking to small tours and maintaining a safe viewing distance from turtles

Whether you’re traveling to Bundaberg to see the turtles or just to relax on one of the region’s many beaches, make sure you check out the Green Travel Guide for some ECO certified travel inspiration. For more information about the Bundaberg Region and the turtle experiences on offer, check out


[Cover photo: Jewels Lynch – TEQ]



MEDIA RELEASE: Ecotourism Australia Former Directors Recognised with Order of Australia Medals

Two of Australia’s true ecotourism leaders – both of them former directors of Ecotourism Australia – have been recognised with Medals of the Order of Australia (OAM) this week, which were presented as part of the 2020 Australia Day Honours.

Lizzie Corke, Co-Founder of the Advanced Ecotourism certified Great Ocean Ecolodge and CEO/Co-Founder of the Conservation Ecology Centre and new Otways attraction Wildlife Wonders, was recognised for her service to conservation and the environment.

Peter Gash, Managing Director of Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Leader certified Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort and Co-Owner/Chief Pilot of Seair Pacific, was recognised for his service to eco-tourism and aviation.

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Lizzie Corke / Credit: Doug Gimesy

“I am delighted to accept this award and gratefully acknowledge the enthusiasm, expertise and unwavering support of the people who make up our team at the Conservation Ecology Centre,” says Ms Corke of the award.

“The Otways are home to many species which have been lost from other places and the ecosystems here provide an important haven to help secure their long-term survival.

“As we’ve seen bushfires devastate huge areas of this beautiful country this summer, it’s likely the Otways will play an important role in securing populations of some of our most iconic species, such as the koala, and other elusive but very important species, such as the quolls, potoroos and bandicoots.”

Peter and the turtle 2 photo credit Kara Murphy

Peter Gash / Credit: Kara Murphy

Peter Gash, who has been Co-Lease Holder and Managing Director of multi-award-winning Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort since 2005, says that the award belongs just as much to his family and friends as to the passionate people who support the work of ecotourism, conservation, reef education and renewable energy at Lady Elliot Island.

“The award came as a great surprise and I feel very humbled by the fact that people have gone to the effort of nominating myself for such an accolade,” he said.

“To have been awarded this accolade in the two areas of ‘eco-tourism’ and ‘aviation’ speaks volumes for the fact that these areas can be mutually supportive and beneficial for the advancement of education and environmental stewardship without detracting from each other. This indicates a remarkable approach by the Australia Day Awards Committee to the challenges the planet faces in the future.”

Lizzie Corke served on the Ecotourism Australia board from 2013 to 2018 and Peter Gash was director from 2012 to 2014.


For questions and comments, please contact:

Lina Cronin – Communications Manager

07 3256 6777 / [email protected]


Moab Area Travel Council Joins GSTC

Moab Area Travel Council Joins GSTC January 2020 – Moab Area Travel Council has joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) as a destination member. The Moab Area Travel Council (MATC), directed by State code, seeks to improve the local economy by promoting, marketing, and supporting recreation, tourism, events, and conventions in a manner […]

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GSTC Assurance Panel is the new name of the former Accreditation Panel

GSTC has changed the name to “Assurance Panel” from the former name of “Accreditation Panel” of its internal but independent body that plays the important decision-making roles for the Recognition of Standards (whereby a set of standards voluntarily requests GSTC to mark their standard as compliant with the GSTC Criteria) and to oversee the […]

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