8 of Australia’s Greenest Eco-Stays
‘Sustainability’. It’s a buzz word, and it’s taking the nation by storm. Yet it’s not just a buzz word, it’s so much more – it’s the future of the industry.
Eco travel. Sustainable travel. Eco tourism. They all mean basically the same thing - that we are starting to realise we should care more about the environment and the different places we visit on vacation. We are not there to trash the place. We are not there to devastate the ecosystems that attracted us. We are there to be inspired, to learn and to take a break in a sanctuary of our choice.
Not so surprisingly, hotels are a wasteful industry, and more often than not have large negative impacts on the environments where they are located. Thankfully, and largely due to the rise of the eco-conscious traveller, a new sector of sustainable accommodation is emerging. This new sector allows eco-friendly travellers to spend their time (and dollars) on hotels that have a minimal environmental impact. Many are even going that one step further and contributing to the local community, or initiating nature rehabilitation programs to invest for the future.
Recently I was visiting my baby sister over in Perth and we were lucky enough to spend a night at Discovery Rottnest, a gorgeous glamping accommodation on Rottnest Island. I was blown away with how they had managed to create these sustainable ‘tents’ with such minimal disruption to the environment. It was actually the first development allowed on the island in 30 years, which gives you some indication of the stringency of rules. The eco status of the accommodation was such a strong drawcard for me, as I’m sure it is for many others, and it really sparked my interest in what else was happening in the industry. So, I have spent the last month looking at what makes a place eco-friendly, and which places are taking off in Australia. When you think about it, it’s pretty cool that you can boost the local economy whilst having such little impact on the ecosystem. Of course, in a perfect world there would be no disruption to the environment at all, but in today’s society, that’s just not realistic!
Well that’s enough eco-sustainable-travel-babble from me. Let’s get down to it. Ladies and gents, let me present the highlight of today’s article – my recommendations for eco-friendly accommodation in Aus.
Let’s kick off with the luxury end of things.
Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley, New South Wales
Looking for a blend of high-end luxury and a quintessential Aussie stay? This award-winning (and spectacular) resort was the first resort in the world to gain an international carbon neutral status. They are on track to have zero waste to landfill by 2023. The resort itself is set on 7,000 acres of land where they operate a wide range of conservation activities. Their conservation aims to protect the regional NSW diversity and restore their habitats to secure a future for the area’s 1,500 species of native flora and fauna. One & Only was recently awarded a Banksia Award for its ongoing commitment to a cleaner environment. The resort was built with an abundance of sustainable design principles, including solar panels, water recycling, rainwater collection, as well as the usage of recycled building materials on site.
Swell Lodge, Christmas Island
Honeymooners, this one is for you! Floor-to-ceiling glass panels framing knockout views of the Indian Ocean. It’s secluded luxury, nestled in the Christmas Island National Park. Visits to Swell Lodge are all inclusive – private chef, guided tours, 4wd access, you name it! The resort is solar powered, has solar heating, composting toilets and a carbon offsetting program, all of which have helped this resort attain Australia’s Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business awards. Part of the daily rate goes towards conservation projects in the National Park. Sustainable tourism is a particular appeal for Christmas Island, with its pristine environment home to many species of birds, as well as providing phenomenal diving with coral reefs and drop-off cliffs. The best thing about this island is that it is just so untouched – hopefully, we can work to keep it that way!
Daintree Ecolodge, Queensland
Nestled among the canopies of the world’s oldest living rainforest, this stunning accommodation has recently attained their Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Certification awards. The ecolodge produces its own renewable energy, is carbon neutral, recycles water, composts, and much more (see here). They also donate $50 from each stay towards The Reef Keepers Fund, which aims to protect the largest coral ecosystem in the world. Daintree Ecolodge uses toxic-free cleaning products and also has their own onsite garden, which the chefs use to produce delectable meals for the guests. There is also the option to go on a guided history walk to learn about the abundance of local flora and fauna in the property’s surrounds.
Discovery Rottnest, Western Australia
I know I mentioned this earlier, but Discovery Rottnest would easily make my list. Discovery Rottnest is the ideal location for relaxed coastal luxury. Their eco-tents are built using local, sustainable materials and they are extremely low-impact on the environment. Discovery Rottnest has also implemented a revegetation program to help strengthen the natural ecosystem on the Island. They have remediated the wastewater treatment pond, and are building up the nearby dunes in an effort to strengthen the local environment.
Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Queensland
Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is situated within a protected ‘Green Zone’ at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort runs almost completely on renewable & sustainable energy including solar and gas technology. By 2020, they will be 100% sustainable, and have also created an educational Climate Trail to educate guests on the effects of climate change on the reefs.
Great Ocean Ecolodge, Victoria
The award-winning Great Ocean Ecolodge is actually a social enterprise, which means it pours all its profits into the conservation of Australian wildlife. Visitors are therefore providing much needed funds to support conservation research, much of which is conducted from its on-site research centre. The lodge itself was designed to be sustainable – water is supplied from filtered rainwater tanks, energy is derived from solar panels, as is the water heating systems. They also feature biodegradable products and a ‘garden to plate’ menu. To top it off, the location is set in some of the most rugged and majestic wilderness that Australia offers. Definitely one worth checking out!
Forest Walks Lodge, Tasmania
There’s no TV at Forest Walks; no phone coverage either, but who needs it when you’re a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Tasmanian bushland. The lodge is surrounded on all sides by spectacular scenery, and is far enough away to make you feel like you are totally secluded. The lodge was built by a couple with the environment at the forefront of their minds. It’s constructed in a shallow arc that traps sunlight and heat within the building. Solar panels generate electricity to power the lodge, with a trusty water turbine as back up for cloudier days. Staying here is a one of a kind experience that allows you to get back to basics and connect with nature.
CycleTrek Eco Accommodation, Western Australia
CycleTrek is a self-contained lodge in WA’s Kambarang. The cabin is built from recycled jarrah, including windows and doors. It has a standalone solar polar system, solar heating system, and rainwater tanks. All products supplied are fragrance free and all paint / supplies used to create the lodge are eco-friendly. It’s located just 2 hours from Perth, but feels like you’re in the middle of the bush. It’s the perfect place to go for good access to mountain bike trails, as well as for those more inclined to spend their time seeking out wild flowers, which are in abundance around the lodge!
Sustainable travel is a huge topic and by no means do I think I have even scratched the surface with this article. There are so many different areas to explore – different budgets, locations, travel methods and styles. Interested in an eco-travel series? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Instagram (@our.soul.purpose).