Bay of Fires, Tasmania © Tasmania Walking Company
Regenerative travel experiences
Wishing your travels could benefit the places you visit? Read on to find out how travel in Australia can be a force for good.
By Carolyn Beasley
The act of travelling has obvious benefits for the traveller themselves; meeting new people, learning about cultures, and being inspired by natural wonders. But what if travel could not only benefit you, but the places you visit?
Regenerative travel is not simply another name for sustainable travel. Beyond the concept of “treading lightly,” regenerative travel involves actually giving back more than we take from the ecosystem or the communities we visit.
Regenerative travel opportunities can take many forms, and can be found right across Australia. Here are a few of our favourites for you to try on your next trip. They’re guaranteed to generate positive impacts and positive vibes.
Help rebuild wildlife habitat
The quantity, quality and connectivity of natural habitats are critical factors in wildlife conservation. Historically they’ve been impacted by factors such as clearing and bushfires, but now there are several ways you can contribute to the restoration of vital habitats during your visit.
In Victoria, embark on a four-day wildlife journey with Echidna Walkabout through breathtaking East Gippsland, stopping to conduct conservation research on koala habitats and lending a hand to preserve marine environments amid your travels. For a luxury option, Arkaba Conservancy, nestled in South Australia's ancient Flinders Ranges, offers guests the chance to spend days supporting their conservation efforts before sleeping in a beautifully restored 1850's homestead. Join a biologist on land surveys, set up cameras for monitoring wildlife or search for ecologically critical vegetation, then soak in the beauty of the landscape you've helped to preserve.
Assistance for the marine world
Coral reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef, face challenges associated with global warming. Many parts of the reef are still thriving, vibrant ecosystems, and when tourists visit, they fall in love with the reef and become ambassadors that spread the message of conservation far and wide. Plus, each visitor pays a small Environmental Management Charge which contributes to reef management. And there are hands-on ways to get involved thanks to tour companies taking action on a local scale.
On their trips to the outer reef, Passions of Paradise offers an Eco Tour, where guests can ‘be a marine biologist for a day,’ helping with citizen science, reef surveys and the planting or maintenance of coral nurseries. The coral nurseries are replanted fragments of naturally broken coral, and they aim to repopulate a degraded area. The tour is offered for Scuba divers and snorkellers. Other companies promote guest involvement through the citizen science App, Eye on the Reef, which allows visitors to upload photos into a database for scientists.
Discover regenerative farming
Agriculture is one of our biggest industries, and Australia takes food production seriously. Increasingly, farmers are seeking out production methods that are gentler on the environment, such as certified organic production, which requires no addition of synthetic chemicals or fertilisers. Some farmers use integrated pest management, permaculture, and other methods that help encourage biodiversity and repair the land.
For visitors, there are opportunities to connect with this regenerative farming. A one-hour-drive from Port Macquarie, you’ll find Grazed and Grown Farm where food is produced without chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. Join a tour to see how the rotation of vegetables, pigs, chickens, cattle and sheep helps to increase microbes in the soil, capture carbon and increase nutrients in the produce. Grab some of the tasty harvest from their farm gate shop on Saturdays or Sundays.
In Margaret River, stay in rammed-earth cottages at Burnside Organic Farm, an integrated winery, avocado, capers and meat production farm. In the morning, join the owners for a walking tour, feeding the friendly pigs and geese, and participating in the morning routine. Learn how worms recycle organics, chickens and geese are used in pest control, and how sheep make excellent weed controllers.
Try an outback station stay
Vast, leasehold cattle and sheep stations are part of Australia’s outback culture, but grazing can be harsh on the land, especially during droughts. In Western Australia’s Murchison region, Wooleen Station is a pioneer of regenerative agriculture, and a great stop on your way further north to places like Ningaloo Reef. Keen to see their land recover from historic overgrazing, the young owners have vastly reduced their stock, only keeping cattle when the land can provide. Don’t miss the sunset tour, where you’ll learn about the regeneration progress, and take in the stark beauty of this semi-arid landscape. Accommodation is provided in the historic homestead, where you’ll chat with the pastoralists and other guests over dinner.
In South Australia, the Arkaba Conservancy sits on 60,000 acres of land that was grazed for 150 years. These days it’s a private conservation reserve, and guests stay in the luxurious homestead. Visitors keen to explore the regenerative side of this property may join ecologists in radio tracking feral animals, or a biology survey.
First Nations cultural projects and environmental regeneration are often intertwined. In Tropical North Queensland, travellers can contribute by taking a flying day tour to Normanby Station from Cairns. Fly over the reef, then land at Normanby cattle station, learning how the Indigenous rangers are repairing their country using ancient fire management and contemporary techniques for controlling feral animals and habitat restoration. These activities also help protect the Great Barrier Reef by preventing erosion and sediment run-off.
Near Cairns, the Mandingalbay Yidinji Traditional Owners and rangers manage large swathes of rainforest-clad mountains. Together with researchers and the government, they have been involved in rehabilitating the degraded East Trinity mangrove and saltmarsh area. The Mandingalbay Hands On Country Eco Tour combines a boat ride from Cairns with a slow walk through the rainforest to learn about bush tucker and ancient ways. Visiting this important project helps the Traditional Owners fund ongoing regenerative initiatives.
Travel as a fundraiser for regeneration
Some travel activities may have regenerative effects in less obvious ways. In Tasmania, Tasmanian Walking Co. operates multi-day guided hikes, some of which run in conjunction with WWF-Australia, and the entire ticket price is donated to the conservation organisation for their regenerative projects. Similarly, boat tour company Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has contributed over $350,000 to regenerative projects in Tasmania, including the planting of 200,000 trees.
With activities like these, you can be assured you’re not only having a transformative, once-in-lifetime holiday, but also making a positive difference to the places and communities you visit.