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

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.

Jungle Adventures Cape Tribulation introduce the human hamster wheel!

Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Leader certified operator, Jungle Adventures Cape Tribulation (also known as Jungle Surfing), have opened to the public the world’s first “Human Hamster Wheel” interactive cable lift as part of their Jungle Surfing Canopy Tour. The innovative and sustainable cable lift acts as a treadmill, using man-power to winch guests into the treetops for their Jungle Surfing adventure.

With no mainland electricity supply and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve, the team at Jungle Surfing had to get creative and think outside of the box for a minimal impact solution for transferring their surfers skyward. It was over a light-hearted discussion in the staff hut that the concept of a Human Hamster Wheel was born.

“We’re extremely proud of the wheel which utilises customer power to introduce the concept of alternative/sustainable energy production as part of our tour experience. We think it’s pretty innovative, as do our customers” says Managing Director, Sheena Walshaw.

Jungle Surfing is situated in the pristine Daintree Rainforest at Cape Tribulation, 2 and a half hours North of Cairns. The Queensland Tourism Award-winning Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours take guests on a unique rainforest tour through the treetops using a series of flying fox ziplines. Surfers stop at five different tree platforms to soak up spectacular birds-eye views of the rainforest, cascading streams, and the Great Barrier Reef shoreline.

Jungle Surfing has a stong commitment to sustainable best practice, with the ultimate aim of becoming a carbon neutral tourism destination. Their mission is to be a benchmark and inspiration for their community and other tourism businesses in wilderness locations, and their goal is to protect and promote the pristine natural environment surrounding them through the provision of unique, adventurous and educational activities with sustainable operations and minimal environmental footprint.

They can’t promise you a cube of cheese for your efforts, but they can deliver epic views of a Jurassic world perched on the shoreline of the Great Barrier Reef. The team at Ecotourism Australia love what they’re about!

Visit the website: Jungle Surfing.

Learn more about the Human Hamster Wheel.

Congratulations to Flyboard Cairns

Congratulations to Flyboard Cairns for achieving Advanced Ecotourism certification for their innovative Flyboard Experience, Charters and Special Events.

Flyboarding is an exciting and innovative new water sport that uses pressurized water to power a wake board like device to enable the flyer to dive through the water, hover above its surface and perform all manner of tricks and stunts. Customers can come and experience the Flyboard water jet devices with Chris and Luke offering one-on-one instruction and personal attention. Flyboard Cairns has a variety of packages suited to individuals or small to medium groups.

Flyboard Cairns have also become sponsors of Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre patient, ‘Barbarella’. She is an Olive Ridley Turtle who was found trapped in Ghost nets up in Cape York and transported to the Centre with the assistance of Pennefather Rangers and Qantas Link. Marlin Coast Vet Hospital treated Barbarella and were able to save her life by amputating a flipper. She has received ongoing treatment for the deep hole in her top shell but has been recovering well with a healthy appetite. Sponsorship of a patient assists the centre to meet the cost of her food while she continues her rehabilitation with the care provided by Jennie Gilbert and the dedicated team of volunteers at Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Check out the turtle rehabs Facebook and Website to see how you can get involved at the centre too.

To find out more about Flyboard Cairns, click here.

To find out more about Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation, click here.

(Photos Courtesy Christian Miller)

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat awarded full registration for “Land for Wildlife” program

Ecotourism certified Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat has been recognised for their ongoing efforts in environmental activity, habitat restoration and regeneration through recently being awarded full registration for their “Land for Wildlife” program by the Gold Coast City Council.

In their new program, Gwinganna partners up with the Conservation Partnership Officers. Together they aim to protect and improve native vegetation and wildlife on Gwinganna’s property, ranging from the critical corners of Currumbin and Burleigh-Springbrook to the east-west corridors of the coastal lowlands to the foothills and ranges. Full registration for the program demonstrates the government’s respect for Gwinganna’s work in their local environment.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is located in a hidden region of the Tallebudgera Valley, which is only a short drive away from the Gold Coast Airport and Burleigh Heads Beach. By the end of March, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat will have been certified by Ecotourism Australia for 5 years. They combine organic living, spa, movement and relaxation with delicious organic cuisine and vital wellness seminars in a dedicated low tech environment. Fully Inclusive packages are from two to seven days in length.

Additionally, under the guidance of Wildcare Australia Inc Gwinganna have been able to release an injured koala, a 2 year old female named Sherbert (pictured), back into the wild after she was cared for at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Hospital.

To find out more about Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, click here.

Boat Club Adventure Cruises achieves Ecotourism Certification

Congratulations to Boat Club Adventure Cruises for achieving Ecotourism Certification for its tours; Whale Watch Cruise, Mary River Cruise, Great Sandy Straits Cruise and Activity Cruise.

Boat Club Adventure Cruises offer a range of affordable cruise options to showcase the beauty & diversity of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, and The Great Sandy Marine Park. Tours depart from Hervey Bay and showcase the best of the region, its wildlife and natural beauty. With more than 15 years of experience the crew around Captain Phil House delivers a remarkable experience, transferring his great knowledge and passion to all guests. Cruises provide unforgettable opportunities to see dolphins, dugongs, turtles, and abundant bird species in the protected wetland area, as well as a chance to witness the annual humpback whale migration.

Boat Club Adventure Cruises has been awarded Ecotourism certification as a result of their sustainable best practice operations and motivation to increase visitor education and environmental awareness. They display great effort in incorporating a variety of eco-initiatives. They are active participants in the Eye on the Reef and Reef Rescue programs, they utilise vessels constructed to guarantee low impact on surrounding ecosystems and operate vessels with an aim to keep energy and water usage at a minimum, and they closely monitor and record all waste and environmental impacts.

Find out more about Boat Club Adventure Cruises here.

Find out more about ECO certification here