Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales © Baillie Lodges/Capella Lodge
6 great holiday ideas for the conscious traveller
Putting extra thought into where you go and what you do on your next Australian holiday can make a world of difference.
By Sarah Reid
When we’re having fun on holiday, it can be easy to forget about the footprint we leave behind. By travelling in a way that brings sustainable benefits to the places you visit on your next Australian adventure, you can help ensure your impact will be just as positive as your experiences. Here are six holiday ideas to consider.
Learn how to live in harmony with the land in the Kimberley
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-run travel experiences offer authentic insights into how Indigenous Australians have lived in harmony with the land for tens of thousands of years. Simply by supporting these businesses, you’ll be contributing to the conservation of this rich cultural heritage.
At Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, on the ruggedly beautiful Dampier Peninsula in the north of Western Australia, you can learn more about sustainable living from an Indigenous point of view by joining Bardi man Terry Hunter on a Borrgoron Coast to Creek Tour. This two-hour, highly interactive walk will broaden your mind, leaving you with a deeper understanding of sustainable foraging techniques and the beauty of the Kimberley imprinted in your mind. Stay overnight on the farm's eco-friendly cabins, just a stone's throw away from the ocean.
Snorkel with manta rays and support sustainability on Lady Elliot Island
Queensland’s Lady Elliot Island is arguably one of the best places on the Great Barrier Reef, and in fact the world, to swim alongside majestic manta rays. There’s no better way to experience this than by knowing you’re doing so sustainably; the reef’s original eco-lodge, which offers a range of eco-friendly accommodation options including glamping tents, remains among the most committed to conservation. Its mission is to provide incredible tourism experiences that don’t come at the expense of the island’s long-term sustainability.
Guests are encouraged to support its conservation work by downloading the Eye on the Reef app to share photos of what you see on the reef to assist scientists, and undertaking marine surveys on behalf of the Reef Check reef monitoring organisation. You can also pledge to make more sustainable choices on the island (and back at home), such as limiting water use and minimising waste. And you can treat yourself to a single-use-plastic-free holiday cocktail, too.
Enjoy a wildlife safari for good on Phillip Island
Love penguins? Then you’ll adore Phillip Island. Less than two hours’ drive south of Melbourne, it’s an easy day trip destination. Here you can watch the island’s famously cute little penguins waddle up Summerland Beach to their burrows after a day’s fishing, knowing your entry fee supports world-leading research.
The Penguin Parade is one of five ecotourism attractions managed by conservation organisation Phillip Island Nature Parks, which is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Phillip Island's wildlife and environment. Its other attractions include a koala reserve, where you can observe these sleepy marsupials in their natural habitat.
Plan a water tower mural road trip in Queensland
In recent years, many regional communities have taken to beautifying their water towers, offering travellers a novel incentive to support small towns off the tourist trail – many of which are battling drought and other hardships – by visiting them on an artsy road trip. Exploring a small town after checking out its water towers can mean so much to the local economy. Enjoy a lunch or coffee, browse the shops and have a chat with the friendly locals.
With more than 30 painted water towers scattered across the state, Queensland is a great place to start. Check out the Australian Silo Art Trail website for more information on water tower, silo and street art, and start your engines for a road trip to remember, being sure to support the towns you visit by making a few purchases along the way.
Enjoy a sustainable city break in Adelaide
There are few better places to enjoy a low-fi city break than in South Australia’s compact capital, Adelaide, renowned for its celebration of local and ethically sourced produce.
Start the day with a fair-trade brew at Monastery Coffee before touring the minimal-intervention wineries of the Adelaide Hills, such as Ngeringa at Mount Barker and Mt Lofty Ranges at Lenswood.
Be sure to stop in at Applewood Distillery and Unico Zelo (on the same site in Gumeracha) to learn about their super-sustainable approaches to making gin and wine (such as using grape varieties that can be dry-grown to save water).
Top off the day with dinner at Adelaide restaurant Press, which is dedicated to showcasing seasonal South Australian produce, before flopping into bed at the luxe Mayfair Hotel, furnished with authentic South Australian products.
Admire the conservation success of Lord Howe Island
With a daily cap on visitors among Lord Howe Island’s many initiatives to help minimise damage to its pristine environment, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed island takes the legwork out of sustainable travel by helping you tread softly – often without you even knowing it.
Renowned for its untouched beaches and subtropical forests, this remote island, just a two-hour flight from Sydney, is the ultimate destination to enjoy being in nature, reminding us of the importance of minimising our impact wherever we go. Soak up the island views from Malabar Hill or take a more challenging trek up Mount Gower, laze on Neds Beach and spot seabirds overhead, or scuba-dive around the Admiralty Islands before bedding down in eco-luxury at Capella Lodge.