How to have a holiday that helps heal the land
The reefs and rainforest of Tropical North Queensland are more than a magnificent place for a holiday – they are also fragile eco-systems that need protection. As a responsible traveller, you can make a big difference simply by being a bit thoughtful when you are planning your break.
Choose eco-friendly accommodation
From the islands to the mainland coast, Queensland resorts are showing how to leave a light footprint. Lady Elliot Island has been setting new standards for almost 20 years. Known for the incredible marine sightings that guests can enjoy, this carbon-neutral resort also has impressive sustainability credentials, including its status as the first resort on the Great Barrier Reef to ban single-use plastics. Equally impressive is Thala Beach Resort at Port Douglas, which continues to do extensive regeneration work on the former plantation land that it sits on.
" Explore the Mossman Gorge sustainably using only paddle power with Back Country Bliss."
Support a wildlife rescue group
Anyone who has ever had the thrill of swimming with a wild turtle has a soft spot for these lovely creatures. The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, many of which are considered endangered. The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at Cairns Aquarium cares for sick and injured turtles and runs daily tours that let you look behind the scenes. All proceeds help fund the centre’s work.
Become a wildlife volunteer
Maybe looking isn’t enough and you are ready to lend a hand to help save the turtles. Then spend a week volunteering with the Cairns Turtle Rehab Centre on Fitzroy Island. No Limits Adventures can organise the placement which will see you helping with daily tasks such as cleaning tanks, feeding turtles and doing beach clean-ups. The work is generally finished by lunchtime, after which you are free to get into the swing of island life.
"The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, many of which are considered endangered."
Cut down your carbon emissions
Adding a few low-impact activities to your itinerary will help you tread lightly on the earth. One fun option is to explore the Mossman Gorge sustainably using paddle power. Back Country Bliss offers a range of tours including half- and full-day tours where you can drift down the river on a lilo! Alternatively, a number of indigenous-owned companies in and around Port Douglas offer the opportunity to learn traditional stories and skills, including hunting mud crabs: try Walkabout Cultural Adventures or Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours.
Become a scientist for a day
The continued survival of the Great Barrier Reef depends on the collection of accurate data about its health. You can be part of the process when you take part in Eye on the Reef, a monitoring program run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. For the full experience, sign up for Passions of Paradise’s one-day Marine Biologist for a Day experience out of Cairns. Snorkellers head out with underwater slates where they record the coral and fish species they see. A master reef guide is on hand to help you make accurate identifications.
Image credits: Tourism and Events Queensland and Back Country Bliss.