When we're on holiday, many of us would follow the "take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints" rule. These days, however, even leaving footprints - carbon footprints, that is - may be considered a bad thing.
This is why many countries around the world have started introducing initiatives that support and emphasise sustainable tourism. Travellers, too, have welcomed these initiatives as it allows them to have peace of mind while on vacation.
And in a country like Australia, it's easy to be more mindful of your holiday itinerary as sustainable practices are not uncommon there. Here are some ideas to make your travel experiences in Australia more memorable:
There is no denying that Australia is famous for its wildlife. Iconic Australian animals like the koala, kangaroo and platypus need no introduction, really. Of course, there are many more animals that are endemic to the country, and you can even see some of them in their natural habitats.
To get the best experience for this, join some wildlife tours operated by reputable companies like the Australian Wildlife Journeys. This collective curates a list of wildlife tour experiences from well-known operators all over the country. Among them are Exceptional Kangaroo Island in South Australia, which has been providing expert interpretation of the natural environment and endemic species that inhabit this incredible sanctuary for over 25 years; and the Maria Island Walk in Tasmania, an award-winning tour that takes guests on guided treks across the Maria Island National Park, regarded as Tasmania's very own "Noah's Ark".
If you're looking to spend more time with marine animals rather than furry four-legged cuties, then head to the Lady Elliot Island in Queensland, said to be one of the best places where you can swim with manta rays. You can stay at the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, an eco-conscious accommodation that observes sustainability practices. Guests can support its Great Barrier Reef conservation efforts by taking pictures of the reef and sharing them on an app to help scientists and researchers with their marine surveys.
Over in Victoria, check out Phillip Island for a closer look at the "little penguins", the world's smallest penguin species. The Penguin Parade is one of five attractions managed by the Phillip Island Nature Parks, an organisation dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and the environment on the island.
Apart from penguins, guests can check out some koalas, too, at the Koala Conservation Reserve.
Alternatively, you can choose to visit a zoo or wildlife sanctuary if that is more convenient for you. Australian zoos maintain high standards when it comes to animal care and welfare, and they also have guides that would be able to teach guests all you need to know about wildlife conservation.
Holiday at a nature or wildlife conservancy. Many of the top lodges - as well as glamping sites - in the country are located on beautiful ancient lands, and the companies which operate these accommodation emphasise on the protection and conservation of the areas.
When you stay at one of these properties, you would be helping the community in the area through economic trade, as well as supporting conservation efforts.
One such is Luxury Lodges of Australia, a collection of high-end lodges and bush camps located on some of the best natural landscapes in the country. Among the notable properties to look out for in its collection are the Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley in New South Wales and the Sal Salis at Ningaloo, Western Australia.
One & Only Wolgan Valley is a luxe conservation retreat located in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. It is surrounded by two national parks, so you can be sure to get some gorgeous views.
Sal Salis, meanwhile, is a tented lodge based at the Ningaloo Marine Park. The property overlooks the Ningaloo Reef, where you can not only spot but swim along with whale sharks. If you're really lucky, you might even get to swim with humpback whales.
Another lush glamping location is the Spicers Canopy Eco Lodge in Queensland, where you stay in safari tents and take part in the two-day guided Scenic Rim Trail walk. With the mountain range in the background, the all-inclusive experience is best for small groups looking to reconnect with nature, and one another.
Enjoy breathtaking views when you explore Queensland’s Great Dividing Range on the Scenic Rim Trail walk. — Spicers Retreat/Great Walks of Australia
There’s more to Australian food than just fish and chips, or meat pies. In fact, Australian cuisine can be pretty hard to define today as there are just so many cultural influences involved.
However, the highlight of a good meal in any city or region in the country is the freshness of its local produce. Australia prides itself in having some of the best produce in the world and you will definitely agree with this when you're savouring a dish featuring locally-grown vegetables.
In fact, a trip to the local farmer's market will provide an amazing experience for the senses. The Adelaide Central market in South Australia is one of the best markets to check out with over 80 stalls selling seasonal fruits, vegetables, seafood and more.
Join the Early Risers Breakfast Tour at the market for a taste of the best that the market has to offer.
Many restaurants in Australia also prefer to use locally-sourced produce from community growers and sellers, constantly reinventing their menus to incorporate seasonal items, as this guarantees better quality and freshness.
By doing this, restaurants are not only helping local businesses to flourish, they are also encouraging diners and customers to support these sustainable practices. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
In Tasmania, the Seafood Seduction Tour by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys lets diners devour freshly-oysters the tour includes a short cruise around the Hobart coastline, where nature guides dive into sea for abalones and sea urchins and prepare them on the spot for guests.
Apart from unique dining experiences, there are cooking classes available too. Some of these are oftentimes organised by hatted restaurants ("hats" are the Australian equivalent of Michelin stars), and celebrity chefs.
Did you know that you can find the world’s oldest living culture in Australia? The history of the Aboriginal people in Australia dates back more than 50,000 years
Amazingly, many of their traditional practices remain active today. Understanding the people and learning more about their history will help to preserve the culture, and this is part of the global sustainable development goals for tourism.
When you connect with an Aboriginal guide or join one of their cultural tours, you would be regaled with stories of the ancient people, their customs, ancestors and more. You can learn about their cuisine too, which is known as "ancient bush tucker".
RT Tours Australia, part of the Discover Aboriginal Experiences collection, takes guests on a journey through Central Australia via tasty Aboriginal cuisines. Enjoy bush barbecues for lunch or dinner at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory with RT Tours founder Bob Taylor, an Aboriginal Australian and a member of the Aboriginal Arrernte nation. During your meal, Taylor will take you through a quick history of his people's culture and traditions.
You can also go on extended tours with the company, exploring more of what the region has to offer.
If you're looking for something unique to do in the city, go on a leisurely walking tour of Sydney's famous harbour, where you will learn about modern Aboriginal culture. Operated by Dreamtime Southern X, the 90-minute tour will offer guests a look at Australia before colonisation via meaningful stories told by your expert Aboriginal guide. You will also get to visit sacred Aboriginal sites located in the heart of the city.
You can experience Australia in many other ways, and at any time of the year too. While international travel is still restricted, now’s a good time to get a head start on planning your Australian holiday. For more ideas, check out the Tourism Australia website.
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