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Clear conscience travel

 

Never before has interest in low impact travel been so high.  

As heartbreaking as the 2020/21 period has been on the tourism sector globally as a result of the summer bushfires and current COVID-19 pandemic, many believe Australia is uniquely positioned to stage a successful comeback.  

Tourism Australia, the country’s travel marketing agency, says due largely to the impacts of the global pandemic, Australia’s relative isolation from the rest of the world, coupled with the country’s sparsely populated land means it remains a desirable location for both the domestic and international markets.  

“Our natural environment has long been a key driver for visitation and tourism continues to play a key role in helping to conserve these natural wonders so they can be enjoyed today and by future generations,” the promotions agency says.  

But it’s not just international tourists eyeing up Australia’s eco credentials.  

By travelling in a way that brings sustainable benefits to the places you visit on your next Australian adventure, you can help ensure your impact will be just as positive as your experiences.  

Below, Chapter offers some more unusual eco holiday ideas to consider.

Reef repair

Climate change is considered the most significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef, thanks largely to the coral bleaching that occurs as a result of rising ocean temperatures.  

But you can help turn the tide by booking a visit to the carbon-neutral Lady Elliot Island (pictured above).  

Situated within a highly protected ‘Green Zone’ the coral cay is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of manta rays, turtles, amazing array of spectacular marine life and unspoilt coral reef.  

Easily able to be accessed as a day trip from Brisbane, Bundaberg, Gold Coast or Hervey Bay, it’s best to allow at least a two night stay to soak in all this incredible island has to offer. With the aim of being 100 per cent renewable, The Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is a great place to rest your head as it produces all its own electricity, desalinates its own water, treats all water and sewage and removes all waste.  

Guests are encouraged to support its conservation work by downloading the Eye on the Reef app to share photos of what you see on the reef to assist scientists, and undertaking marine surveys on behalf of the Reef Check reef monitoring organisation.  

While in the region, you may like to consider spending a day or two volunteering with Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc, a not-for-profit environmental organisation based out of the Whitsundays, which has helped shift more than 234,000 kilograms of plastic debris from the waters that lap some of Australia’s most famous isles.

Open air art galleries

The water tower and silo art movements are rapidly growing pace as a way of encouraging all Australians to do their bit to help sustain rural economies while also treading very lightly on the landscape.  

The movement’s Australian origins can be traced back to 2015 when Form WA, a non-profit art and cultural organisation, started off painting the CBH Group grain silos in the wheatbelt town of Northam in Western Australia. In doing so, they created Australia’s first ever silo trail – a concept that has now been adopted by many other regional communities, and one which has since spread across four other states.  

Having grown significantly in both quantity and quality in recent years, currently the Australian Silo Art Trail covers nearly 50 painted silos across Australia, with more being planned for the future. It also stretches over 8,500km beginning in Northam WA and ending in Three Moon in Queensland.  

In recent times, the movement has encouraged other towns to rejuvenate their own large canvasses, with around 80 water towers nationally also being painted.  

Often touted as the largest outdoor gallery in the world, by taking part in the silo art movement you get to indulge the feel-good factor of supporting drought affected communities, but also enjoy the satisfaction of making your way to places well off the usual tourist traps.

Staying local

If crossing state borders seems a tad too adventurous, heading into the regions too risky or jumping aboard a plane too big of an ask, big city dwellers could always try getting your sustainability fill a little closer to home.  

While the farm to fork concept isn’t exactly new, the desire of many city dwellers and urban travellers to connect with agriculture can never be underestimated. With this in mind, there has been a marked increase in the number of Australian urban developers going green.  

Melbourne’s newest shopping centre, Burwood Brickworks features a rooftop farm, renewable energy generation, and wastewater recycling system and is the first retail centre to attempt – and achieve – Living Building Challenge® Petal Certification, the world’s most rigorous measure of the built environment.  

After picking up souvenirs from the stores below – each of whom had to agree to a number of stringent conditions including agreeing to avoid the use of PVC in their fit outs and committing to separating their waste streams – visitors are invited to head to the rooftop Acre Farm and Eatery to help plant vegetables that, a few weeks later, will be consumed at the onsite restaurant.  

Similar to the Sydney City Farm or the Northey Street City Farm concept in Brisbane, travellers can also learn practical skills and find out how sustainability practices may change in the future by attending onsite workshops or short courses.

Environmental Travel Tips

  • Consume less electricity by keeping your devices charged via a solar charger;
  • The environment could do without more plastic bottles, and you could do without having to lug around large plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Pack your own bar of soap and try a shampoo bar instead;
  • A lightweight hammam-style towel is a great multi-purpose addition to your suitcase. It will dry quickly and can also be used as a scarf, sarong, or picnic blanket;
  • To avoid having to wash your clothes as frequently, pack some clothes made from natural fibres such as merino wool and organic cotton. These can be hung up to air after wearing and won’t smell the way polyester does, meaning fewer washes;
  • Select a reusable bottle over buying bottled water;
  • It’s easy to quit single-use plastics when you’re well-equipped. The perfect example is cutlery; say no to plastic knives and forks for takeaway meals by bringing your own 

 

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