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

Green Spot.Travel Discovers Tropical North Queensland

Owner and Founder of Green Spot.Travel, Richard G Edwards visited Tropical North Queensland in October, while attending the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference in Cairns.

During his visit, Edwards visited and experienced Advanced Ecotourism Certified operators.

Discussing his experience, Edwards says ‘The reef was spectacular, and the whole visit was top-notch, with world-class Eco Lodges that can stand next to anybody and all the tour providers are great’. He also expressed his thoughts on the potential of incorporating Indigenous tourism, ‘I feel there is huge opportunity to better integrate indigenous history and culture throughout every product I experienced’.

During his trip to Tropical North Queensland, Edwards created a video on his experience with ECO Certified operators which can be viewed here.

Richard G. Edwards has had wide-ranging career in the adventure travel industry and his work as the founding Executive Director of the Trusted Adventures consortium allowed him to assist a host of pioneering adventure companies on their marketing, positioning and branding efforts. Edwards was a key note speaker at the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference, in October discussing Product Development IS Marketing: getting rewarded for innovation.

For more information on Ecotourism Australia’s Certified Operators please visit our website.

For more information on the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference please visit the website.

North Australian Tourism Operators Take Out Ecotourism Honours

North Queensland and the Northern Territory have emerged winners at this year’s Ecotourism Australia GECKO Awards announced in Cairns at the 2012 Global ECO Asia Pacific Tourism Conference.

North Queensland tourism operators Daintree Discovery Centre and Low Isles Sailaway have won the Ecotourism Award and Climate Action Award respectively, while John Rumney owner of Eye to Eye Marine Encounters has been awarded the prestigious Ecotourism Medal of Individual Excellence.

Northern Territory’s Far Out Adventures has won the Indigenous Tourism Award  and Mike Keighley, owner of Far Out Adventures has won the EcoGuide Award of Excellence for the third year in a row.

Professor Ross Dowling, Chair of the GECKO Award Judging Panel and Director of Ecotourism Australia said “We were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality the award submissions and the Judging Panel had a really tough job deciding the winners this year!”

The 2012 Ecotourism Australia GECKO Award winners are:

Climate Action Award sponsored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Winner: Low Isles Sailaway, Queensland

Low Isles Sailaway is family owned and operated by Steve and Katrina Edmondson, who take an active role across all elements of the business from skippering the vessel to international marketing. This close operational involvement and passion for the Great Barrier Reef’s long-term conservation have enabled Low Isles Sailaway as a business to achieve best environmental practice and to be proactive in the development of climate change action emission reduction innovation and the provision of reef friendly offsets to deliver a carbon neutral tourism product.

Indigenous Tourism Award sponsored by Gumala Aboriginal Corporation

Winner: Far Out Adventures, Northern Territory

Far Out Adventures began in 1994, when the Mangarrayi Aboriginal people on Elsey Station invited Mike Keighley to bring tourists into their one million acre property on the Roper River, Northern Territory.  They explored the location and saw potential to run tours with the Aboriginal people. They see their role is to interpret and facilitate enjoyable learning experiences. Over a period of days this impresses on guests the sensitive nature of these environments, the Aboriginal culture and the need to maintain these experiences for future generations.

EcoGuide Award of Excellence sponsored by AVANA

Winner:  Mike Keighley

Mike started guiding in Katherine seventeen years ago. His focus is on Wildlife, Ecosystems and Aboriginal culture.  Mike is motivated by the outcomes from guiding – the gratitude expressed as fellow humans learn of new ways to care for the earth – along with opportunities to breakdown racial barriers often formed by ignorance. Mike sees is role as guide is to safely facilitate these experiences so guests can look at country and its people with heightened respect and empathy.

This is the 3rd year in a row that Mike has won this award

Highly Commended: Michael McCulkin, New South Wales

Ecotourism Award sponsored by Tourism NT

Winner:  Daintree Discovery Centre, Queensland

The Daintree Discovery Centre is a multi-award winning environmentalinterpretive facility that allows people of all ages to learn about, explore and help conserveone of the few unspoilt pockets of lowland rainforest left in Australia – the Daintree. It welcomes 85,000 visitors per annum and manages to do so without causing damage to this world heritage icon.  Opened in 1989 the site was chosen for its extraordinary biological diversity. The Centre was especially designed to protect theecological integrity and preserve the cultural heritage of this pristine environment.  Daintree Discovery Centre is helping visitors to understand climate change impacts and how to better manage protected areas.

Highly Commended: Dolphin Discovery Centre, Western Australia and Phillip Island Nature Park, Victoria

2012 Ecotourism Medal for Individual Excellence

About the award: This award recognises the extraordinary personal and professional achievement and contribution by an individual over many years to the Australian tourism industry. Judges consider in particular the activities and contribution of the nominee outside the expectations of normal employment.

Winner: John Rumney

With over 30 years of experience as a marine tourism operator, research coordinator, professional skipper and adventure diver, John Rumney has a vast knowledge of the reef and its inhabitants. He has consulted for international panels on Climate Change and participated in conservation movements around the world. One of the earliest advocates for ecotourism, John has spent the last 20 years promoting sustainable practices through education, research partnerships and conservation initiatives.

John operates Eye to Eye Marine Encounters out of Port Douglas. This marine tourism company aims to be continually funded and profitable through tourism, marine science and documentary revenue and support significant marine science, conservation management and climate change mitigation.   Through this unique business model, guests gain a deeper personal interaction and understanding of the natural world and are inspired to protect it. Marine research and conservation projects that John has coordinated include the internationally renowned Minke Whale Project, Osprey Reef shark and nautilus tagging expeditions and innovative tiger shark and turtle research in the waters of the Far Northern Great Barrier Reef (around Raine Island).

For more information contact: Kym Cheatham Chief Executive Officer Ecotourism Australia at or 0407019685

The Ecotourism Australia vision:: “To be leaders in assisting ecotourism and other committed tourism operations to become environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially and culturally responsible”.

The Global Eco Asia Pacific Ecotourism conference is Ecotourism Australia’s annually conference attracting an impressive line up of world renown international and Australian speakers.  A full conference program is available at

Ecotourism Australia was formed in 1991 as an incorporated non-profit organisation, and is the peak national body for the ecotourism industry.  Ecotourism Australia aims to grow and promote ecotourism and to assist tourism operators to become environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially and culturally responsible. 

Membership includes tour operators, ecotourism accommodation, tourism planners, protected area managers, academics and students, regional tourism associations and travellers.

Ecotourism Australia’s certification program is a world first. It provides objective monitoring and auditing of organisations’ ecotourism claims and provides travel agents and tourists with an assurance of best practice ecological sustainability, natural area management and quality ecotourism experiences

In 2008, Ecotourism Australia was awarded the prestigious World Travel and Tourism Council “Tourism for Tomorrow” Award for Conservation at the World Tourism Summit in recognition of Ecotourism Australia’s significant contribution to the conservation and preservation of natural heritage.