Responsible tourism: Victoria wildlife vacation in Australia
Our mission as a tour operator is to ensure that wild animals have a future in wild habitats around Australia.
Guide Training – Leading by example and information All our tours are fully guided by experienced, well-trained Wildlife Guides. Our Wildlife Guides are trained to impart an environmental ethic that respects the animals and ecosystems that we encounter. We inform our guests of the least intrusive way to behave around wild animals. We speak quietly around wildlife, walk slowly towards them, stopping often, and we insist that our guests do the same. We all remain at least 10 metres away from wild koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and possums, as these animals are easily distressed.
We train our Wildlife Guides intensively and continuously and we encourage further learning on all aspects of the environment. Natural history books are available to all Wildlife Guides on loan from our collection.
The owners, each with over 23 years experience with wildlife, are often invited to give talks to interest groups, universities and community groups about wildlife behaviour and working with Australian wildlife in the wild. We often work with media, promoting the intrinsic value of wild animals, the region and the ethics of eco- and wildlife-tourism.
Reduce, re-use and recycle Water Conservation: We clean our vehicles with one small bucket of recycled water and an “Enjo”-style re-usable cloth that uses no chemicals and very little water to clean. After use the water is put on our native garden. We wash linen/tablecloths and all our own clothing in phosphate-free, biodegradable washing detergent. Our garden is never watered with fresh, unrecycled tap water, we only water with 'grey water'.
We minimise vehicle travel and fuel use by employing local people and using local suppliers and businesses as much as possible. We avoid disposable products, plastic bags & cling film and discourage the use of throw-away water bottles. Our cutlery, crockery and food containers are all enamel, metal, glass and (phasing out) hard recyclable plastic and are washed and re-used. 95% of our rubbish is food scraps and paper – all is collected and composted or recycled (paper). We recycle all paper, glass and suitable plastics & aluminium through the local government recycling system. Our office and home use low-voltage light globes; 100% recycled paper; all lighting, heating, computers and office equipment are turned off overnight; we do not have, and do not want air-conditioning in our office or home.
Aboriginal/Indigenous involvement From the beginning, the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and the Gunai/Kurnai Community have been involved in our planning and research for tours in their area. They taught us what to say about their Culture and how to say it. They continue to be valued mentors to our business. We promote and encourage Aboriginal–guided cultural interpretation on all group, special and private tours.
One of our Wildlife Guides/Koala Researchers is an Aboriginal Person from the Wathaurong community.
We employ Aboriginal Guides for cultural talks as much as possible. No non-Aboriginal person should speak for the Aboriginal People of Australia. In addition, we and our Aboriginal mentors teach our non-Aboriginal Guides about the protocols of dealing with, and speaking about, Aboriginal People.
We create awareness and understanding of the local Aboriginal Culture by working with and learning from the local indigenous people, employing indigenous people where possible, including them in tours where possible and passing on respect for their culture to our guests and staff.
Local community involvement: We use locally-owned and operated accommodation, food suppliers and experiences. All the food on this tour (except lunch on the first day & some snacks) is supplied by local businesses in the Orbost area. We are active members of the local Field Naturalists Groups and bird observers clubs in the areas we work in.
Every month over summer we operate subsidised Koala Conservation Days for locals as a way of educating local people about their wildlife asset and environment. These days are extremely popular and sell out every time. The day is heavily subsidised by Echidna Walkabout to encourage people from all backgrounds to be able to participate.
We share our wildlife sightings with local people visiting the National Park – often passers-by notice our group looking at a koala or a lyrebird, for instance, and so we invite them to join us for a short time to see and learn about the animal. This encourages local pride in the wildlife and in the area.