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Australia: Ecotourism Down Under

It's no secret that Australia is a big country. It's also massively diverse and full of spectacular tourism opportunities that have made millions of visitors fall head over heels for the land down under. With some epic, expansive, and exceptionally diverse landscapes, crazy coastlines, and some really special not-so-secret gems, Australia is an ideal country in which to engage in ecotourism.

Ecotourism in New South Wales

New South Wales, home to Sydney, Australia's largest city, isn't all about the city. In fact, there's a lot more to see and do in this state, especially when it comes to ecotourism.

Paperbark Camp

They say it's like camping for adults, but Paperbark Camp doesn't look like the type of place to rough it. This luxury ecotourism accommodation in Jervis Bay (about two hours from Sydney) is a unique combination of luxury, camping, and ecolodge.

Their objective is to minimise their impact on the environment, while putting visitors in the middle of nature as a way to gently remind them how precious it really is. They have an extensive list of ecotourism principles, and have long been accredited by the Ecotourism Association of Australia, so you know Paperbark Camp is serious about ecotourism.

Ecotourism in Queensland

Queensland is home to some of the most famous of Australia's ecotourism opportunities, like the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef

Most people venture to Queensland to see the Great Barrier Reef, and why not? It is a spectacular natural sight to behold, and one of the most beautiful coral reefs on earth. Unfortunately, the Reef is ridiculously fragile and should be visited with care.

Reef Eco Tours offer snorkelling ecotours of the Great Barrier Reef that include a pre-snorkel reef ecology discussion, so you know what you're seeing and what you should and shouldn't do. All of the guides are qualified Marine Scientists, so both you and the Reef are in good hands.

Paradise Bay Ecofriendly Luxury Lodge

The Paradise Bay Ecofriendly Luxury Lodge is surrounded by marine and nature parks that include animals like dolphins, butterflies, and beautiful fish. Paradise Bay practices sustainable development and ensures that their operations are ecofriendly and consistent with their seven major principles of operating an ecotourism resort. Their extensive efforts and commitments are best understood by visiting their website, as there's too much to discuss here!

Ecotourism in South Australia

South Australia produces about 50% of Australia's wine, so if you're going to check out the famed Aussie vineyards, this is the place to do it. The best way to get involved in local tourism ventures is to experience the local vineyards, like McLaren Vale's Pirramimma and Wirra Wirra. And when you're done tasting, you definitely need somewhere great to relax.

Rawnley Park Station

Rawnsley Park Station is a group of award-winning luxury eco-villas, camp sites, and a homestead, about four and a half hours from Adelaide. In particular, their eco-villas are the ideal place to escape into beautiful natural surroundings and exceptionally designed accommodation. The eco-villas are excellently situated to explore Flinders Ranges National Park, and Rawnsley Park Station helps guests book tours by road or by air, as well as mountain bike hire and bushwalking trail guidance.

Ecotourism in Western Australia

Some of the most intriguing landscapes in Australia are in its largest state, Western Australia, and there are plenty of ecotourism related activities to partake in from Perth all the way up to the north coast.

Natural Spectacles

It's an optical illusion that happens when the full moon rises low over the ocean at low tide, sparking the appearance of a staircase leading to the moon. The Staircase to the Moon can be seen from March to October, all along the northwest coast of Western Australia. The city of Broome even sets up a Staircase market to coincide with the event, featuring crafts, food, and entertainment.

Located in the Nambung National Park, the Pinnacles are an ancient limestone rock formation that is considered to be one of Australia's most awesome natural landscapes. This ecotourism attraction allows visitors to observe the Pinnacles from a variety of locations and perspectives, including an informative interpretive centre that provides insights into the geology and biodiversity of the park.

Urban Adventures

Want to get to know Perth? Check out Perth Urban Adventures' two different day tours. Urban Adventures is a global tour operator that operates locally owned and run day tours in destinations all over the world, and Perth is a fantastic place in Australia to engage in this local travel initiative. Get to know Perth from a local perspective and take an affordable, exciting adventure in Western Australia's main city.

Ecotourism in Northern Territory

Northern Territory is synonymous with awe-inspiring landscapes and incredible biodiversity, so it's natural that it is a hotspot for getting grounded in the local customs and engaging in ecotourism.

Uluru

Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is that massive iconic red rock in the middle of Australia. It is considered sacred by the Aboriginals, and represents a really important part of their heritage and belief system, something visitors can learn about in the cultural centre. There are plenty of beautiful instances of rock art and varied flora and fauna surrounding the site, and many visitors come to hike around the base - just don't climb on it!

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park covers about 20,000 square kilometres of area in Northern Territory and has been designated a World Heritage site for both cultural and natural reasons. Managed jointly by the Director of National Parks and the Aboriginal peoples, the landscapes of Kakadu are immense, and the flora and fauna are diverse, making it an ideal place to experience ecotourism in Australia. There's also a visitor's centre, Aboriginal gallery, and Aboriginal cultural centre to further enrich the cultural experience for ecotourists.

Tasmania

Australia's island state has been rising in popularity in recent years, but it still remains rather untouched by mass amounts of tourism. As such, much of the natural wildlife is unspoiled and very inviting.

Freycinet Eco Retreat

In the middle of a large ecotourism property called St. Paul is the Freycinet Eco Retreat, in the centre of the Freycinet Peninsula. This ecolodge offers accommodation in the form of eco-cabins and a private camp site, all of which have spectacular water views and operate on energy efficient low impact forms of electricity. All of the development in this area includes buildings designed to minimise the use of energy and water, and incorporate environmentally sustainable design principles. Along with all of the ecofriendly features of the property, guests can do some wildlife spotting, typically seeing wallabies and possums, sometimes even that legendary Tasmanian devil.

Ecotourism in Victoria

One of Australia's smallest states doesn't disappoint when it comes to ecotourism options. Both in and out of Melbourne, the state's biggest city, ecotourism options are easy to find.

Otway Fly Tree Top Adventures

For those of you who fancy a little adventure up high in the treetops, this ecotourism activity is for you. Victoria's Otway Fly Tree Top Adventures is just plain cool, with nature-based activities in the rainforest, like zip lining and a treetop walk. Visitors can also abseil and venture down a prehistoric path full of dinosaurs and educational bits of Australia's prehistoric eras.

Melbourne Metro YHA

As with many YHAs around the world, two of Victoria's hostels are very green, helping make your ecotourism experience that much more complete. YHA once again reinforces that urban travel can classify as ecotourism, with the green Melbourne Metro hostel in Victoria's main city.

Ecotourism is present in all of Australia's six states and one territory, leaving plenty to be discovered and experienced by tourists who are looking to get a little closer to the magnificent natural attributes of this massive country. Hopefully this guide will provide you with a little more information, and a lot of inspiration as to what Australia has in store for you.

Photo Sources: The Pinnacles - Derek A Young, The Great Barrier Reef - Sarah_Ackerman

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