Are you an eco-tourist, or do you aspire to be one? And are you planning a trip to Australia? In case you’re unsure of what ecotourism is exactly, the International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Sounds good, right? Ecotourism is all about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. It’s aim is to promote greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture, amongst both communities and travellers. If you’re headed to Australia and want to check out some “must-do” activities approved by TIES, then read on!
1. Meet the Native Wildlife
There are plenty of places to check out kangaroos, koalas, wombats, and other native species. You could visit Sydney’s acclaimed Taronga Zoo, or head to Oakvale Farm and Fauna World, located two hours north. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane houses more than 130 koalas— and you can cuddle them! You can also hand-feed kangaroos here. You’ll find plenty of native species also at the Gold Coast’s Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as well as at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park in Melbourne, which is famous for its lantern-lit night tours.
(Photo courtesy Airflore)
2. Whale Watching Tour
Whale watching operators must adhere to strict conservation guidelines so as to protect the gentle giants of the sea. Whale watching in Australia is extremely popular, and many whales can be spotted in its waters as they migrate up and down both coasts. Getting up close and personal with a southern right, humpback, or perhaps even a blue whale will be an experience you will never forget. You will also learn a lot about whales and the conservation efforts being made by Australian authorities from your expert guides.
3. Tree Tops Adventure
If you fancy viewing all the Aussie rainforest has to offer from an unusual and exciting perspective, then you should definitely check out one of the country’s certified tree top adventures. There are several to choose from including Jungle Adventures, located at Cape Tribulation in Queensland, which allows you to take in Daintree Forest as you zoom through the trees on zip lines. They also offer night walks through the forest. Mamu Tropical Skywalk in Innisfail, Queensland is another awesome forest experience, or, if in Sydney, you could try The Tree Top Adventure Park in Western Sydney Parklands. Here, several different courses are on offer dependent on age and ability—although all are about leaping, swinging and “flying”.
(Photo coutresy Leorex)
4. Interact with Dolphins
At the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, Western Australia, you can wade in the shallow waters of the dolphin “interaction zone” for a chance to mingle with wild dolphins, or take a 1.5-hour cruise around Koombana Bay in search of bottlenose dolphins. You can even opt to take a special tour where you get the chance to actually swim with dolphins in the wild!
5. Visit Phillip Island Nature Park
This island is a little gem for ecotourists who love penguins and other wildlife. As well as featuring a Koala Conservation Centre, where you can see koalas go about their business, you can check out the world-famous “Penguin Parade,” officially Australia’s most popular natural wildlife attraction. Every night at sunset the little penguins emerge en masse from the ocean, and waddle their way back to their nest in the sand dunes. Elevated boardwalks and viewing stands give you a great glimpse at the little troopers, without disturbing them.
(Photo courtesy Matt Chan)