Great Ocean Road wildlife tours, Australia

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01273 823 700

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Tour departs every day, except Christmas Day (December 25), on request with a minimum of 2 adult passengers.
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Great Ocean Road wildlife tours, Australia

Environment

Our mission as a tour operator is to ensure that wild animals have a future in wild habitats around Australia.

MAKE A HOME FOR KOALA CLANCY PROJECT
Baby koala Clancy left his mum last year to find a home of his own. Luckily, where he lives is part of the Koalas & Kangaroos IN THE WILD tour. On this special wildlife tour, travellers help make him a home.

“International travellers are so moved by seeing koalas IN THE WILD that they want to help protect them” says Janine Duffy, Koala Researcher, Echidna Walkabout. “We offer them the chance to pull some Boneseed weeds, thus making more habitat suitable for koalas like Clancy”.

Boneseed is an invasive weed that has taken over large areas in the You Yangs Regional Park, where Clancy lives. Thick infestations of Boneseed degrade koala habitat. Janine says “In our 8 years of research in the You Yangs we have noticed that Koalas don’t use areas heavily infested with Boneseed”.

For two years now, Echidna Walkabout and guests have been removing weeds from Clancy’s home range. “Our aim was to clear 5,000 weeds in the first year so that Clancy could live safely without having to fight for space” says Janine. “What we didn’t expect was such tremendous enthusiasm from our guests. We are now clearing around 30,000 weeds per year. We cleared Clancy’s home 4 months ahead of schedule, and we’re now working on the homes of other koalas! In fact, since starting the project we have seen a 370% increase in koala sightings in the area!"

Wild Koala Research
In 1998 we discovered a non-intrusive method of identifying koalas by their noses. We now have 16 years of identifying photographs & diagrams of 108 koalas, showing that the 'nose pattern' does not change over life. This method is in the process of being submitted for scientific publication.

For the past 16 years we have tracked and monitored the movements and lives of the hundreds of wild koalas that we encounter on our tours. Each resident koala is named, photographed and identifying markings are noted. These wild Koalas are not tagged, caught or handled in any way – they are identified by observation at a distance, through binoculars. Each day every koala found is located on a map, they are photographed, the tree species they are in and all behaviour is noted. At the end of each year these findings are compiled, analysed and a report for the year is provided to all our Guides, Koala Researchers and to the National Parks Service, local Field Naturalist Club and Koala-specialist Wildlife Carers and veterinarians to assist with understanding of Koalas in this particular wild habitat. This Project is our own initiative, and fully funded by our tour company. A Researcher is employed one day per week to input data, and on every tour a Koala Researcher/Field Guide goes out ahead of the tour group to find Koalas and monitor them before the group arrives. This ensures a high degree of success with koala sightings (100% over the past 3 years) and adds 3 hours of monitoring data to each day’s sightings.

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 22 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 inherent 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 and 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.

Community

Aboriginal/Indigenous involvement
From the beginning, the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative 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:
All our Wildlife Guides, Field Guides and Researchers live locally – many in the smaller towns outside of Melbourne, close to the sites where we operate. 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, 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.

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