Exploring Ecotourism in Australia

Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

Recently I came across a call for entries for writers to design their ideal trip to Queensland, Australia. Since we cover sustainability in business here on TriplePundit, I immediately thought of the ecotourism trade in Australia, and wondered how robust it might be in Queensland. Turns out, ecotourism is big business, gauging from the number of ecotourism operators that turned up with a little research. Having never been to Australia, I have no way of knowing if these carbon-neutral travel experience claims are real, but I would love to find out.

Five days of eco-exploration

Being from the Great Lakes region, water ecosystems and their conservation are really interesting to me, so exploring the Great Barrier Reef is number one on my list. Spending summers on Lake Superior, we grew up paddling our canoes and sailing our small sailboats around the bay. Several low carbon tourism-certified sailing charters, like Passions of Paradise and Sailaway offer day cruises and True Blue Sailing Whitsundays offers an amazing-sounding 2-day, 2-night tour around the islands (Atlantic Clipper) and Australian Tall Ships offers 3- to 6-day voyages. Under my own steam, I would like to take a kayak tour and learn more about the area in the water and on land. I can’t think of a better way to see the water wildlife than by silently gliding through the waves or snorkeling below the surface.

I also found Pumpkin Island – a private paradise with five cottages, powered by wind and sun. How do they do that and what inspired this idea? It looks like the pristine, clean energy-powered island is so popular it’s booked through September 2015!

There is no shortage of fascinating ecosystems to explore. Daintree River Cruises claims to have alternative fuel engines that have the minimum emissions possible and also ensure a quiet tour that doesn’t disturb the wildlife.

Cooper Creek Wilderness also offers an up-close look at the rainforest with guided hiking tours. Its website says, “Cooper Creek Wilderness presents a living museum that contains every stage in the evolution of plants and animals. It is more than an exciting and interesting place to visit; it contains the forebears of Australia’s more modern forests and through its complex interrelationships provides inspiration and knowledge for understanding of the environment for all humankind.” I’m sold. I can almost feel the moisture on my skin and hear the different animals. My camera is itching to capture the landscape.

I think there is a lot to learn by taking the tours and learning about the unique animals and ecosystems and conservation efforts. But, I would also like to look behind the scenes and talk to the tour operators, other travelers and local residents about how much impact ecotourism has on Queensland and its authenticity.

On another note, when not touring, I wonder how many sustainable eateries I can find to relax in at day’s end?

Where would you go? Any recommendations?

[image credit: Paul Toogood: Flickr cc]

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at andrea.g.newell@gmail.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.

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