We are so excited to announce that Iris Lodge Alpacas, a tourism business for only 18 months, has successfully achieved ECO Certification at the Nature Tourism level. Well done! The lodge offers a great opportunity for guests to experience real life on a working farm. Guests can choose to have either a farm stay or a breakfast/afternoon tea with alpacas and can engage with day-to-day farm activities depending on their schedules and seasons.
Even though it started as a normal farm more than seven years ago, Iris Lodge Alpacas have developed this concept of providing touristic experiences as a way of covering their farm costs. They started the farm with just two alpacas and have developed it for a farm with 60+ alpacas, two llamas, plus sheep, cows and horses. The purpose of promoting their farm experience is not only to give people an opportunity to get up close and personal with alpacas, sheep and cows, but also to explain how they have developed the farm, including what they have done to protect the environment, such as the water catchment to attract swift parrots to the farm. As a result of this water catchment, Iris Lodge Alpacas have been able to provide a home for hundreds of birds including hawks, eagles, pelicans, black swans, corellas, kookaburras, parrots and a variety of finches and meat birds.
Iris Lodge Alpacas have always been proud to say that they have constantly worked hard to improve their efforts in running a sustainable operation within the farm since the day they purchased the property. At the outset, it was a grazing property and barely had any trees. Since taking ownership of the property, current owner Sean Hooper and the staff have planted more than 9000 trees and grass varieties to make it a better place for farm animals as well as for other wildlife to flourish. One of their main concerns in choosing trees was to provide liveable habitats and food sources for critically endangered swift parrots living around the area.
Significant resources have also gone into erosion control measures and protecting Jilliby Jilliby Creek, which the farm fronts and which is a part of the local water catchment. Iris Lodge Alpacas always make sure that they harm no large trees during any of their development or expansion projects and make sure they are continuously removing exotic species such as lantana and blackberry to make more space for native species. Revegetation of areas that have been affected by previous farming activities has been one of their major concerns throughout the past few years.
Finally, Iris Lodge Alpacas’ waste management plan strictly adheres to local council recycling programmes and staff make sure no food is wasted as there is always a hungry chicken waiting for food. The farm uses solar power as a sustainable energy source and tries to only use biodegradable cleaning agents as protecting soil-based microorganisms is essential for them being a farm-based business.
Kudos to Iris Lodge Alpacas for promoting sustainable tourism practices in Australia and we expect more good practices in future. To get to know more about Iris Lodge Alpacas, please visit their website or Facebook page.
It is also a great pleasure to announce that Iris Lodge Alpacas received $500.00 from WWF-Australia as an incentive to assist with the first year of the process.
Read more on WWF-Australia funding on Eco Certification in Central Coast – (More local tourism operators becoming ECO Certified | Central Coast Council (nsw.gov.au))
All images courtesy of Iris Lodge Alpacas