Ecotourism Destinations: Australia

Outdoors & Animals

Australia Kangaroo

If you are conversant with Australia, you will know that a large part of the country is anything other than urban. It has been described as a nature wonderland, thereby a great destination for Australia ecotourism.

Australia leads the world in adventure tourism, with its vast areas of completely uninhabited wilderness, tropical jungle, and rainforests – all waiting to be explored.

If you decide to visit this vast and starkly beautiful country, you cannot be disappointed. The laws in place in Australia to protect the environment here are very necessary, given the popularity and sensitivity of its ecological wonders. These include the deserts which are home to wild camels that were introduced by early settlers and now allowed to roam freely in the outback, the jungles which are home to the largest crocodile in the world, the infamous saltwater crocodile, and the many aboriginal rock paintings/carvings which date back 28,000 years!

Aboriginal Rock Art at Nourlangie, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie in Kakadu

The importance of Australia ecotourism is reflected in these facts.

  • Tourism supports nearly 1 million jobs throughout Australia
  • Australia’s natural environment is the most important attraction for international visitors
  • Visitor interest in indigenous culture provides a significant opportunity for employment and business development for indigenous Australians.

So what are the key places which offer ecotourism in Australia? There are many, but the following are considered some of the musts.

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is known worldwide as one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth, as well as one of the most ecologically sensitive ones. Interestingly, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act created guidelines through which visitors can interact with the reef, as well as guidelines regarding which areas can be visited and at what times of the year. This heavy level of regulation is necessary to give the reef adequate protection.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest World Heritage area, consisting of reefs, mangroves, islands, and ocean waters. It is one of the world’s most important natural assets, and is the largest natural feature on earth stretching along the north east coast of Queensland.

Snorkelling at Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Snorkelling on Agincourt Reef at the Great Barrier Reef

Uluru-Katja Tjuta National Park
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is located in this national park in central Australia, and is sacred to the Aboriginal people who live in its vicinity. According to UNESCO, which conferred on the park’s World Heritage status, Uluru and the nearby rocks of Kata Tjuta “form part of the traditional belief system of one of the oldest human societies in the world.” The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is made up of sand plains, desert, and dunes. There is animal life in the form of wallabies, kangaroos, dingoes (wild dogs), foxes, and almost 200 species of birds, including the flightless emu.

Here is something to dwell on… The local Aboriginals do not climb Ayers Rock and ask visitors to refrain from also doing so. Although not illegal, many visitors do climb the rock but one should be aware that this iconic landmass is sacred to the Aboriginals. There are other reasons not to climb, one being the preservation of Ayers Rock, as the footsteps of climbers have eroded its slopes. To its credit, when you visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you are provided with information on how to preserve its environment.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) Northern Territory, Australia
Ayers Rock

Daintree Rainforest
Located in the north east coast of Queensland, the Daintree Rainforest and its authorities take their preservation very seriously. Its claim to fame includes some of these facts:

  • It is the oldest, continuously surviving tropical rainforest in the world, thought to be 165 million years old.
  • It is the most biological diverse rainforest in the world
  • It receives more than 400,000 visitors annually
  • The incredible diversity of plants and animals contained here include many rare species
  • This tropical rainforest remains rather untouched compared to many other tropical rainforests around the world.

To maintain and sustain Daintree, buildings and walkways are elevated to protect the fragile ecosystems. Open mesh boardwalks allow air, water, and sunlight to reach the forest floor. No toxic chemicals or cleaning products are ever used.

I have to believe the local promoters of the Daintree Rainforest when they say it was around before dinosaurs roamed the earth!

Mossman River, Daintree National Park, Queensland, Australia
Mossman River in Daintree National Park

Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest national park and covers a large area situated close to Darwin in the Northern Territory. It includes wetlands, rock formations, indigenous rock art, and an amazing array of bird life and aquatic life. Activities here can include hiking, fishing, boating, and crocodile, wallaby, and kangaroo spotting, as well as bird watching.

Kakadu’s rock art is one of the reasons for its World Heritage status. The paintings provide a fascinating record of Aboriginal life over thousands of years. With paintings up to 20,000 years old, this is one of the longest historical records of any group of people in the world. Rock art is still very relevant to the local Aboriginal people. It shows objects we still use, animals we still hunt, and activities we still do.

Large Saltwater Crocodile, Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Large saltwater crocodile at Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu

Tasmania
About a third of Tasmania is protected in forest and marine reserves. The Tasmanian wilderness covers around 20% of Tasmania and is home to some of the deepest and longest caves in Australia, as well as some of the oldest trees in the world. It has rich and diverse scenery and is excellent for guided walking tours, bushwalking expeditions, cycle holidays, rafting adventures, and rock climbing – all within its 20 national parks. It is no wonder Tasmania’s current ecotourism strength and most of its resources lie in nature-based travel.

Here is a good example of Tasmania’s interest in ecotourism. The Tahune AirWalk, which features a walkway in the forest, is a prime example of the use of a forest reserve in tourism. Forestry Tasmania shifted from providing community facilities in its reserves, to the establishment of a commercial tourism enterprise in partnership with the local council and community. The Tahune AirWalk has achieved monthly visitation figures of up to 10,000 people, which is good for the local economy.

Coming Across a Brook Along the Tahune Air Walk, Tasmania, Australia
Coming across a brook along the Tahune AirWalk

Our Ecotourism Series:
Ecotourism – An Important Trend in Travel
Ecotourism Destinations: East Africa
Ecotourism Destinations: Southern Africa
Ecotourism Destinations: Central and South America (Part 1)
Ecotourism Destinations: Central and South America (Part 2)
Ecotourism Destinations: Central and South America (Part 3)
Ecotourism Destinations: Asia (Part 1)
Ecotourism Destinations: Asia (Part 2)
Ecotourism Destinations: Australia
Ecotourism Destinations: New Zealand
Ecotourism Destinations: Europe