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9 Ways to Travel Sustainably in Australia

Cute koala at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary | © Hayley Simpson
Picture of Hayley Simpson
Writer
Updated: 16 July 2018
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Ecotourism is becoming significantly more important with every year that passes. Fortunately, when visiting Australia it’s easy to travel sustainably. Follow our guide to discover the small things you can do on an Australian vacation to make a big difference to the country’s beautiful environment.

Carbon offset

To arrive in Australia, you’re going to have to fly. Hence one of the most sustainable things you can do before even touching down in Australia is offset that flight. Australia is also a big country, so flying from coast to coast is usually the easiest option. If you’re flying within Australia, chose to offset those flights as well. It’s a (very) small price to pay to help the environment.

Carbon offset all flights to, from and in Australia

Pack reusable items

It took Australia a while, but as of mid-2018, the country’s two main supermarkets are no longer providing free plastic bags to customers. Ensure you pack a few reusable bags if you’ll be going shopping in Australia; even if that’s just personal souvenir shopping. Reusable bags are fortunately lightweight and many styles can be folded, too. Another reusable item to bring on your Australian travels is a BPA-free water bottle. You can drink the tap water and there are water fountains located around popular areas in major cities as well. Finally, why not bring your own reusable metal straw too?

Don’t forget your water bottle!

Enjoy ecotourism activities

There are more and more companies becoming eco-certified and offering ecotourism experiences across Australia. In particular, there are plenty of ecotourism operators along the Great Barrier Reef, so you can experience the reef without threatening it further. Other popular ecotourism activities in Australia include the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, the multi award-winning Bruny Island Cruises in Tasmania and Taronga Zoo. Visit the official Ecotourism Australia website to find an eco experience near you today.

Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Stay in sustainable accommodation

Another way to travel sustainably in Australia is to stay in eco-friendly accommodation. There are various sustainable options, from hostels to luxurious resorts. For backpackers hitting the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay Eco YHA has implemented energy and water-saving techniques to reduce its environmental impact. Located on the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort aims to be 100% sustainable by 2020. Finally, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains is the world’s first hotel to receive CarbonZero’s internationally accredited carbon-neutral certification.

Lady Elliot Island
© Janelle Lugge / Shutterstock

Take public transport

Greyhound is the largest bus network in Australia. They also have a carbon offset initiative, where passengers can pay an extra $1 to help support carbon dioxide reduction projects. Once in major Australian cities, make the most of their public transport networks. Melbourne has a public bike network, as well as trams, trains and buses. Meanwhile, Brisbane and Sydney’s public transport networks also include ferries. Don’t forget, walking is the best mode of transport for the environment.

A tram in Melbourne

Visit wildlife sanctuaries

One of the best parts about visiting Australia is seeing the adorable native wildlife. There are many wildlife sanctuaries across the country, which are focused on conservation and reducing their carbon footprint. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary participates in 16 different conservation projects. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania has several sustainability initiatives in place, and won the EPA Sustainability Innovation in Industry Award in 2013. Steve Irwin’s legacy, Australia Zoo is also working to reduce its carbon footprint in all areas, from biodegradable coffee cups to a mobile phone recycling program.

Cute koala at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
© Hayley Simpson

Support locals

Ecotourism is all about having a positive impact on the environment you’re visiting. One big way to do this is through supporting locals. This can include visiting farmers’ markets, buying products in independent shops and joining locally-run tours and cultural experiences. At Mossman Gorge near Cairns, you can go on a Dreamtime Walk led by a local indigenous guide, to learn more about the area’s Aboriginal history. In Uluru, there’s the Aboriginal Homelands Experience, where a traditional owner of the land teaches visitors about the Anangu people’s history.

Take a walk

As mentioned, walking is a very carbon-neutral and environmentally-friendly way to explore Australia. If you enjoy bushwalking and extensive hikes, here are some suggestions. The Great Ocean Walk is a 100-kilometre (62-mile) trek that follows the infamous Great Ocean Road, from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. The Murray River Walk is an eco-certified company that organises a three-night, four-day journey along the Murray River. Another local operator, Tasmanian Walking Company does several hikes across the island state, including at the Bay of Fires and Cradle Mountain. They take sustainable travel seriously.

Respect your surroundings

Just like you would at home, always respect your surroundings in Australia. Don’t litter, but instead place your rubbish in the bins and recycle bins provided across most cities. Switch off lights when you exit a room and conserve water whenever possible, as Australia is unfortunately known for its droughts. When in rural areas, it’s important not to feed wildlife and to stay on designated trails, too. Don’t forget, it’s often the most simple things that have the biggest impact.

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