Congratulations To Ocean Park Aquarium

Congratulations to Ocean Park Aquarium for achieving Ecotourism certification for their Aquarium Tours and 4WD Adventure Tours.

Ocean Park is an award-winning, Eco-friendly aquarium located on the shores of the Shark Bay Marine Park in Western Australia. Guests may explore the wonders of the marine park with a marine scientist on a fun, highly educational guided tour of the aquarium. In the company of a marine scientists, guests are guaranteed a fun and highly educational experience, as they watch shark feeding, meet rescued sea turtles, and see venomous sea snakes and stonefish. Alternatively, guests can take a 4WD tour exploring the rugged terrain of the World Heritage listed Shark Bay, Steep Point, and Francois Person National Park on a fully guided eco tour.

Ocean Park Aquarium has a comprehensive Environmental Policy to ensure they operate in the most sustainable way possible. The Ocean Park is powered by one of the largest private solar installations in Western Australia, generating 273 kilowatt hours each day. The installation powers the parks lighting and pump systems, as well as a reverse osmosis desalination unit for generating fresh water. The educational guided tours of Ocean Park Aquarium engage the public in sustainable thinking by promoting ecosystem understanding. They also look out for the environment in which they operate by contributing to the conservation objectives of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Shark Bay Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park and Edel Land. The Ocean Park is also a rehabilitation centre for injured marine reptiles, working with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife to care for injured marine life and release them back into the wild.

To find out more about Ocean Park Aquarium, please visit their website.

Congratulations To Sugarbag Safaris!

 Congratulations to Sugarbag Safaris for achieving Respecting Our Culture (ROC) certification, and Ecotourism certification for their 5 Day Kakadu, Katherine & Litchfield Tour, and Private Tours.

Operating out of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Sugarbag Safaris take guests on unforgettable Private tailored or 5 Day Tours visiting World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Parks, and Arnhemland. Sugarbag Safaris are privately owned and expertly led by award-winning EcoGuide of Australia certified guide, Hamish Clarke. Guests enjoy his 17 years of guiding experience, and eclectic local knowledge of the flora, fauna and culture of the Top End.

Hamish is dedicated to developing in his guests an appreciation for the natural wonders and Traditional Indigenous Culture of the Top End while identifying the environmental impact of human influence. He works closely with National Park Agencies to conserve the environment in which he operates, participating in conservation programs and reforestation, feral animal and erosion control, and monitoring programs. He also supports local initiatives in the best interest of sustainable development and preservation of the natural environment. His close personal relationship with the local Indigenous community also guarantees a quality, genuine cultural experience.

Whether your interest is bird watching, nature and wildlife photography, bushwalking, bush tucker, local history or just soaking in all the Top End has to offer, Hamish’s expertise will ensure you an in-depth experience like no other. Hamish is renowned for his commitment to customer safety, passion for the outdoors, his sense of humour – as well as for cooking up a mean steak over the coals!

To find out more about Sugarbag Safaris, visit their website.

New Species Of Gecko Discovered At Cobbold Gorge

Newly Advanced Ecotourism certified operator, Cobbold Gorge Tours, has recently made the news as two new species of gecko have been discovered in the Cobbold Gorge Nature Refuge. The two new species were discovered in May by scientists from Australian National University (ANU), who work collaboratively with Cobbold Gorge Tours to classify and register fauna in the area.

Gaye Bourke from ANU’s Research School of Biology says the recent discovery has been an exciting find, as the two new species are genetically distinctive, “The genetic data indicates that the geckos from this area are distinct from the common and widespread group of striped geckos they resemble, but there are differences in scales and colour patterns” she said.

“The individuals from this region are strikingly different genetically… We are still working on the physical examination of the genetically distinct geckos and hope to name and publish full descriptions of these groups as new species in coming months.”

The find is also a positive indication that there may be more unidentified species to find in Far North Queensland, and brings greater understanding of the biodiversity of the Gorge. The remote Jurassic, sandstone gorge environment provides an ideal habitat for geckos, the recesses in the sandstone providing refuge from the elements.

Bourke also noted, “Understanding the biodiversity of an area can also assist in land management.”

Working collaboratively with Universities, National Parks and Government Agencies can be a great way for tourism operators to become involved with research projects and conservation efforts for the environment in which they operate, and a great opportunity to work together toward sustainable management of our valuable ecosystems.

Cobbold Gorge is situated deep in the heart of the Gulf Savannah region of Far North Queensland, only a six hour drive from Cairns and Townsville. Cobbold Village offers all of your modern comforts, as well as modern ensuite cabin accommodation, and RV and caravan friendly camping facilities. Cobbold Gorge Tours provides guests the opportunity to explore the unique environment and Nature Refuge, which boasts a spectacular landscape, and North Queensland wildlife and birdwatching, for the ultimate Outback Queensland experience.

Read more about the discovery of the two new species of gecko here.

Find out more about Cobbold Gorge Tours’ ECO certification here and visit their website here.

Cobbold Gorge Tours Achieve Advanced Ecotourism Certification

Congratulations to Cobbold Gorge Tours for achieving Advanced Ecotourism certification for their tour products and accommodation.

Cobbold Gorge tours has achieved Advanced Ecotourism certification for:

  • Cobbold Gorge Tour
  • The Ultimate Outback Adventure Tour
  • Robin Hood Cattle Station Experience
  • Cobbold Gorge Village (Accommodation)

Cobbold Gorge is situated deep in the heart of the Gulf Savannah region of Far North Queensland, only a six hour drive from Cairns and Townsville. Cobbold Village offers all of your modern comforts, as well as modern en suite cabin accommodation, and RV and caravan friendly camping facilities, while the unique environment boasts a spectacular landscape, North Queensland wildlife and birdwatching, for the ultimate Outback Queensland experience.

The protected Cobbold Gorge area is accessible only by guided tour. Cobbold Gorge Tours take guests to explore the ancient geological landforms on their awe-inspiring and educational, guided tours of the vast sandstone gorge. Then to ice the cake of your outback experience, the Robin Hood Cattle Station Experience offers a rare opportunity to experience life on a working cattle station! Cobbold Gorge is an ideal weekender destination for the whole family to enjoy.

In the establishment of Cobbold Gorge Tours the main criterion was, and is to this day, that the operation is conducted with minimum impact on the environment. In line with this commitment, they conduct their business in accordance to an outstanding and strict Environmental Policy. The 4720 hectare Cobbold Gorge Nature Refuge was established in 2009 through a voluntary, formal agreement with the Queensland Government. The agreement acknowledges a commitment to manage and preserve the land, which holds significant conservation and cultural values, while allowing them compatible and sustainable land uses to operate their business. Cobbold Gorge Tours is also an accredited Savannah Guides Station, whereby accredited guides foster ecologically sustainable, interpretive tourism and demonstrate high standards of operation. They also work in collaboration with Australian National University to classify and register fauna in the Cobbold Gorge Nature Refuge, which has lead to the discovery of a previously unidentified species of velvet tailed gecko which is to be named in honour of Cobbold Gorge. Through these efforts, their Advanced Ecotourism certification has been well-deserved.

To find out more about Cobbold Gorge Tours, please visit their website.

Image: Cobbold Gorge Staff proudly showing off their Advanced Ecotourism certificate

Superpod Receives 2015 Good Design Award

Ecotourism Australia Business Member, The Superpod, has recently been recognised with a coveted Good Design Award®, coming home with an award in the Hardware and Building category. The Good Design Awards are Australia’s oldest and most prestigious award for excellence in design and innovation. The Awards showcase superior examples of good design across a broad range of industries and design disciplines and has its origins dating back to 1958. There are seven main categories represented with more than 25 sub-categories, representing one of the most comprehensive design awards in the world.

The Superpod® is an inventive, thermally efficient, building design calculated using a building physics program in International Passive House Standard. The Superpod utilises a new supply chain and methodology for achieving that Standard in a very fast build, using prefab and long life components, without use of plaster, with low building waste and very low energy use during occupation. The design can be adapted for virtually any climate or country, size or shape of building. PHS is the best energy standard to combat climate change with optimum indoor comfort. It can be challenging. Superpod brings to PHS a new look and building concept, which is architecturally innovative, beautiful, easy to build, live with and understand.

The Judges commented: “This is an innovation from the ground up that meets and exceeds all the criteria for design excellence. Operating in a very competitive marketplace, this project has the potential to transform the building industry and pave the way forward for thermally efficient, low maintenance building design and construction”.

The Awards were announced at the 2015 Good Design Awards Ceremony on 29 May in front of 700 national and international guests as part of the annual Vivid Sydney celebrations.

The Good Design Award® is regarded as one of the most coveted awards for design and innovation in the world. Entries must represent excellence in design at every level where judges carefully consider various factors including innovation, quality, functionality, sustainability and above all, world-class design. The Good Design Awards conducts one of the most rigorous assessment processes in the world and to receive this honour is a brilliant achievement. Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia who manages the annual Awards program said, “This year’s Awards attracted some of the most innovative companies from all over the world. For a project to be recognised at this level means without doubt, it is the best of its kind in the world,” Dr. Gien said.

Ecotourism Australia wishes them a huge congratulations!

Read more about Superpod’s acheievement here, more about the Good Design Awards here, and visitSuperpod’s website here.

Ecotourism Australia Certified Businesses Reach $1.11B P/Year

EA Logo Hi Res

Last year Ecotourism Australia’s certified businesses combined annual revenue reached over a billion dollars for the first time. This year the total has reached $1.11B!

“This huge result demonstrates the resilience and growth potential of tour operators who focus on delivering quality products” said Rod Hillman, CEO of Ecotourism Australia. “The Ecotourism industry in Australia is making huge strides forward with a 6% growth in revenue over the past year”

  • The combined annual revenue of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators rose by 6% in 2014/15 to $1.11B.
  • Using the Tourism Research Australia (TRA) multiplier of 1.9 shows the financial contribution of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators in 2014/15 is $2.12B.
  • Victoria has shown the highest individual State increase with a staggering 23% growth in combined revenue during 2014/15 with the certified operators contributing revenue of nearly $160M for the year.
  • Queensland remains the engine room of ecotourism in Australia with a 7% increase in 2014/15 and a combined revenue of over $560M pouring into their economy from the hard work of their Ecotourism Australia certified operators.
  • NSW added solid growth of 14% generating close to $135M to their economy.
  • WA is steady in its contribution of $112M.
  • SA, Tasmania and NT struggled in a tough year with small reductions but still contributed over $150M to their economies.

“Australia’s ecotourism operators have focused on quality and yield” said Rod Hillman, CEO Ecotourism Australia, “This has been demonstrated by Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators making up 40% of the finalists at the 2014 Tourism Awards, a third of all winners at the awards and 20% of all sellers at the 2015 Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE). Not a bad effort by a group of 500 hundred of Australia’s best tour operators!”

The vast majority of ecotourism operators are based in regional centres creating sustainable jobs, development and a sense of pride within the community. Each and every Ecotourism Australia certified operator has committed to delivering quality tourism products, running a sustainable business and making direct contributions to the environment they work in and the community they live in.

Over a quarter of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators have been certified continuously for longer than ten years, many fifteen years and more, clearly demonstrating the sustainability of our industry and the value they place in Ecotourism Australia’s certification.

ENDS

Rod Hillman – 0427 279 414

ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA
T: +61 7 3252 1530 | F: +61 7 3257 0331 | E: eco@ecotourism.org.au
Office: 6/67 O’Connell Terrace, Bowen Hills QLD 4006
www.ecotourism.org.au

Straddie Camping Introduce New Eco Shacks

Advanced Ecotourism, ROC and Climate Action certified operator, Straddie Camping, has unveiled two ‘first‐of‐a-kind’ EcoShacks at Amity Point Camping Ground on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), with the first guests welcomed on the 1st of July. The EcoShacks bring a new and unique ‘glamping’ accommodation experience to Straddie.

The new accommodation offering is part of Straddie Camping’s strategy to improve the North Stradbroke Island camping holiday experience, and to present the campgrounds in such as way that the nature and Aboriginal culture of the Island is celebrated and respected. The design of the EcoShacks, refers to the local traditional Aboriginal culture and kn wledge, while also reflecting on North Stradbroke Island’s proud history as a holiday destination.

Inspiration for the design of the EcoShacks was drawn from three sources:
1. The style of the traditional Australian tent,
2. The quintessential North Stradbroke Island beach shacks, and;
3. Quandamooka People’s culture and connection to country.

They feature their own rainwater tanks, large windows, fan cooling, and off-the ground positioning to take advantage of the island breezes. Windows and doors are fitted with heavy-duty roll down canvas zippered screens, and the main door features an inlayed design by local Quandamooka Artist Belinda Close. The EcoShacks face directly onto the beachfront, taking advantage of the magnificent sunsets over Moreton Bay.

A world renowned design team oversaw the construction of the EcoShacks, ensuring the Quandamooka People’s cultural considerations to land, seasons and wildlife, were integrated in the design concept and application. Environmental best practice technology is utilized for the treatment of water and sewerage to ensure a minimal environmental footprint, and landscaping use native species endemic to North Stradbroke Island.

Along with the new EcoShacks, a family friendly interpretive walk has been established, with signposted points of interest around the Amity Point Camping Ground providing information on the area’s rich Aboriginal history, as well as featuring ancient Aboriginal stories. The interpretive walk lets guests immerse themselves in the living cultural landscape of Minjerribah, and learn about the Quandamooka people’s connection to the land – dating back tens of thousands of years. Long before European settlement, Aborigines would meet on Minjerribah to share and exchange food, stories, knowledge; to trade, dance, perform initiations and participate in other cultural activities. This tradition of the Quandamooka people is one of generous hospitality and sharing. It’s a message that is equally important today.

The Amity Point township has a laid back seaside village vibe that welcomes all visitors, and is a popular fishing spot with the locals. The Amity Point Camping Ground is a spacious family friendly campground with calm water beach perfect for the kiddies, and an abundance of native wildlife. Straddie Camping will market test the new EcoShacks for use in other camping grounds, and will continue with cutting edge sustainability and cultural initiatives throughout all aspects of the business going forward.

Straddie Camping is a partnership between the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) as shareholders, trustee and Traditional owners of the landand Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), a Commonwealth Statutory Authority. Considerable funds have been invested into the business, which have been used to refurbish the camping grounds and extend services, resulting in strong growth in recent years.

The business has also been awarded a number of Queensland tourism awards, including a Best Campground in QLD award.