Responsible tourism: New South Wales walking holidays, Australia
Minimal impact walking: We lead by example and encourage others to follow. We believe that we are doing our job well when our customers leave a tour having had a fabulous, fun filled holiday but also come away with a broader appreciation of and respect for the natural environment. Ideally they come to walk and leave as ambassadors for the environment. We stay on formed tracks, avoid trampling vegetation, insist that all rubbish is carried out, pick up rubbish left by others. Group sizes on self-guided trips are usually only two. On group guided trips the maximum size is 15 but there are two guides so we can split into smaller parties, limiting our impact.
We plan our walks to utilise toilets wherever possible and if not available, we provide clear instruction on burying waste and carrying out any sanitary items. We view wildlife from a distance and never feed native animals. We do not light fires in the bush and we do not allow people to smoke on walks. Our motto is “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos and a piece of someone else’s rubbish”.
We donate money to different associations that manage the park – these funds are used to assist with regeneration work in the walk areas. We’re fortunate to be based in one of the most spectacular natural regions in the world - the Grampians National Park. Yes, the kangaroos really do hop by the windows! Our office is very energy efficient with its passive solar design, double glazing, rainwater tanks, solar hot water, evaporative cooling, green power and a worm farm for sewerage waste. We adopt a reduce, reuse then recycle policy wherever possible.
On the Roof of Australia Walk, we employ local guides and drivers. As we are a small company, in some areas the guiding is done by Phil and I, the owners of the company. All guides undergo our comprehensive training program and this is tailored to each individual’s needs. It covers areas such as safety, first aid, group management, minimal impact techniques, environmental interpretation, cultural considerations. On our trips we stay in comfortable local accommodation properties with lots of character. Each one has been personally selected by the owners. It could be an historic guesthouse, comfortable B&B, cosy home-stay, seaside cottage, alpine ski lodge, resort hotel, a luxurious Ecolodge or country motel. When we use motels, we look for small, family-run places in attractive locations. Occasionally, remote locations mean that the only accommodation available is simple in nature, such as lighthouse keepers’ cottages and outback cattle stations, but the ones we select have character and ambience that more than compensates for star ratings. Good food is an important aspect of all our trips. Meals are plentiful, nutritious, wholesome and wherever possible offer local ingredients or specialties. No matter which holiday you choose, the accommodation and meals will add an interesting local flavour to your experience. Wherever possible we incorporate quality local tourism experiences into our walking holidays. Examples include bush tucker walks with indigenous people, tours of historic lightstation precincts, lake or river cruises, snorkelling with marine biologists etc.