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Ecotourism: Packing For An Adventure

Ecotourism: Packing For An Adventure

Guest blog from SocialMonsters writer Milton Herman

Kangaroo jumping on the beach at sunrise

Ready to trade in the bustle of major tourist attractions for the serenity of wilderness? Summer is here and escaping to the temperate south or scaling the mountains will surely fulfill your travel appetite. Must haves for your excursion include more than just woolies and mozzy spray. Take a look at what you need to bring along the next time you’re spotting wildlife or camping under the stars.

Bike When You Hike

Ecotourism trips are a chance to shed the motor powered vehicles in exchange for man-powered bikes and boats. Life’s An Adventure offers mountain bike tours through the Blue Mountains or outside of Sydney. Lunch and refreshments are provided for the half or full day tours. Bike, helmet and glove hire is also provided. Skip the motorcycles and ‘eco’ RV tours if you’re set on eco-travel. Although fun, it’s more of an environmental burden than old fashioned two-wheelers.

GoPro, Bro

If you’re content with just the ol’ camera – you’re ignorant. A GoPro is an ideal tagalong for any safari or water adventure. Choose a mount that fits your itinerary. A suction mount for the kayak or a chest harness for the hike. Even the dog can share his POV with the Fetch dog harness. Still shots can be taken when the moment is right. Easily create slow motion and timelapse videos with the free GoPro Studio software. A little editing allows you to document your trip via a YouTube video or on Facebook for friends and family.

No Fear With The Gear

Facing the elements is a challenging joy of ecotoursim excursions. You’ll need proper gear for living safely outdoors. Be prepared on all survival fronts:

  • Fire. A pack of matches will suffice for starting up your campfire. However, always be prepared by carrying steel wool, which can be ignited without a lighter or matches if you have a battery or makeshift magnifying glass.
  • Food. No matter your taste, a must-have for camp cooking is tin foil. Use it to cook meat and veggies over the coals and to preserve food.
  • Shelter. An extra shelter seems overzealous but it’s more on the practical side. A tarp and rope bundle takes up half the room of a sleeping bag in a pack; haul it along when going on long hikes or day trips.

App Out Before You Camp Out

What separates cold nights from comfortable nights? Proper packing. If you’re new to camping, pack a night early and sleep on what you may have forgotten. Then go even further with an app like Packing Pro. The app will autofill many common items so you can save time as you organise belongings.

Once you get on the go, on-the-go needs emerge. Check the EveryTrail site and app for hikes in your real time proximity. Android users can try out Map My Hike GPS and the BackCountry Navigator app for real time navigation. Check out other useful apps like Campee, which is recommended by Australian Geographic.

Not only does it offer sites of the world’s largest coral reef, but more than 80 percent of plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs found down under are unique to Australia, making it an ideal destination for ecotourism.

Wildlife Tourism Workshop 2015

Wildlife Tourism Workshop, September/October 2015

“Wildlife Tourism: a Force for Biodiversity Conservation and Local Economies?”

29th September to 2nd October 2015, Geelong, Victoria


Koala in You Yangs (near Geelong). Photo: Echidna Walkabout

So far the program includes:

  • Saturday to Tuesday 26-29th September – pre-workshop field trips
  • Tuesday 29th September – late afternoon or evening opening reception
  • Wednesday to Friday 30th Sep to 2nd Oct – morning presentations and afternoon roundtable discussions
  • Saturday and Sunday 3-4th October  – post-workshop field trips

Tentative Wednesday to Friday program:
Wednesday:  international aspects

  • How do other countries value, present and manage wildlife tourism?
  • Which countries have associations similar to Wildlife Tourism Australia, and what are their roles?
  • What is new in wildlife tourism in our our nearest neighbours (New Zeaand, New Gionea, Southeast Asia, Antarctia, and could there be more cross-promotion of wildlife travel between our countries, and promotion of our general regin to the rest of the world?

Thursday: contributions of tourism to conservation

  • What is already working well, both in Australia and elsewhere?
  • What is the potential for increased contribution by wildlife tourism and the tourism industry in general to conservation of wildlife and habitats  (which can include monetary contributions, habitat restoration, public education, conservation breeding, citizen science etc.)

Friday: the value of wildlife tourism to local economies

  • What do we already know of the contributions of wildlife tourism to local and regional economies?
  • What kinds of wildlife tourism can encourage tourists to visit less-traveled regions, spend an extra night , or make repeat visits?
  • What obstacles are faced by small businesses and NGOs trying to stay afloat while offering wildlife experiences and interpretation to visitors?

Remember the above is tentative, and could be subject to change in coming months

Expression of interest and Call for Abstracts:

To be on our mailing list for updates, please send a (no-obligation) Expression of Interest  to Also let us know if  you would be likely to present a paper (and if so, whether you prefer oral or poster, and what the topic is likely to be).

Call for abstracts will open in early 2015


Please also let us know if you would potentially be interested in sponsoring this event (levels of sponsorship will be announced in early 2015).

Young people and volunteer research

Young people and volunteer research

WTA Chair Dr Ronda Green presented this 4-minute talk in the “Inspiring the Next Generation” theme at the recent World Parks Congress n Sydney:

birdwatchgirlIt’s great when young people get ‘switched-on’ to nature, but they can then become frustrated and discouraged by not knowing others who share their enthusiasm, a lack of opportunity to actually do something for conservation of the animals and forests or reefs they have come to love, and a lack of confidence in their ability to do something useful if such opportunity does arise.

The Australian Wildlife Research Network was founded by Wildlife Tourism Australia, originally for communication between tour operators conducting or assisting with research but not knowing of each others’ existence, but has been expanded to include networking between tour operations and academics for mutual benefit, and between tour operators and volunteer tourists, including young adults, teenagers and families with children.

The network website also includes information on identification guides, field equipment, monitoring methods, literature on working with volunteers and other guidelines for academics, tour operators and the volunteers themselves.

Young folk can be inspired and encouraged by opportunities to experience wild places and wildlife, socialising with other enthusiasts and interacting with researchers, and knowing they are contributing to useful research or monitoring for conservation management or to the general understanding of our wildlife ecology and behaviour.

The network, which includes tours, ecolodges and wildlife parks involved in research, is the only one we know of that focuses on wildlife research and monitoring connected with tourism throughout Australia and including projects for all budget levels and ages to join in with.

A successful project involving volunteers has to be well-planned, including clear explanation to participants on what to expect, friendly greeting, effective training on what needs to be done, appropriate assignment of tasks, from carrying or cleaning equipment through helping to find animals to actually taking measurements or recording observations, opportunity for participants to socialise, and where possible to safely experience being alone in nature, and to learn about the animals and ecosystems they are experiencing, and also whether the data is to be collected in a way consistent with valid analysis or comparison (for instance between seasons, or the progression of a restoration plot) and for valid conclusions to be made, and how the information collected will ultimately be used. Feedback from participants and stakeholders is also important

It’s not enough to ignite a fire, we have to keep the flame alive amongst our youth, and the Australian Wildlife Research Network is one vehicle to assist with this.

To find out more, please visit

Moonlit Sanctuary wins Victorian Tourism Award

Moonlit Sanctuary wins Victorian Tourism Award

Friendly betting on night tour

Friendly betting on night tour in Moonlit Sanctuary

Pearcedale’s Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park has been named as the state’s best Eco Tourism business at the 2014 Victorian Tourism Awards, held last Monday night at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The most prestigious event on the Victorian tourism industry calendar, which was attended by 1000 people, celebrated the outstanding tourism businesses, attractions, events and individuals from all corners of the state.

Since opening in 2001, Moonlit Sanctuary has engaged and delighted visitors with an outstanding wildlife experience, while at the same time promoting the conservation of Australian animals through breeding, research and education.

The 10 hectares of bushland is home to over 300 animals from 80 different species, where visitors can meet endangered species, feed kangaroos and wallabies, cuddle up to koalas and enjoy encounters with mammals birds and reptiles such as Tasmanian devils, cockatoos, pythons and dingoes. The sanctuary also comes alive at night with its famous lantern-lit tours, with birds actively swooping overhead and endangered quolls, gliders, pademelons and bettongs foraging for food under the cover of darkness.

Director Michael Johnson said he is very proud that Moonlit Sanctuary was recognised with this award, which strengthens its position as a leader in the Eco Tourism sector.

“It is extremely gratifying to receive this award as recognition the immense respect for our animals and the environment we operate within. We have spent a lot of time and effort caring for endangered species and educating visitors about our amazing flora and fauna.”

“In addition, we have always been committed to implementing sustainable practices in the management of the sanctuary. Some of the measures we have taken include solar cell electricity generation, a worm farm for composting, black and grey water treatment, greenhouse-neutral pellet fire heating, planting over 10,000 native trees and plants, as well as an entry building that was constructed using environmentally-sensitive materials,” Michael said

Moonlit Sanctuary will join all the Victorian winners to take on the best tourism businesses across the nation at the Australian Tourism Awards ceremony in Adelaide next April.


Echidna Walkabout wins international award

Echidna Walkabout short-listed for international award -
***They Won! Get The Update Here

koalaEchidnaWalkaboutWTA member Echidna Walkabout has been short-listed for an international award in responsible tourism, and even have their koala photo (see pic on right) heading the page of the website:

The category they are short-listed for involves commitment to the conservation of habitats and animals in the wild and using tourism to achieve conservation objectives.

From the website:

The winners will be announced in a special ceremony as part of the World Responsible Tourism Day celebrations at the World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, in London on Wednesday 05 November before a packed audience of the media, industry and responsible tourism professionals. – See more at:

WTA offers hearty congratulations to Janine Duffy and Roger Smith for the short-listing

At time of writing Janine is on her way to London for the awards dinner on 5th November 2014

Read more on Echidna Walkabout’s own webste:



AND THE WINNER IS:  Gold award: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours

Congratulations Echnida Walkabout Nature Tours!

Read more here:  Best for wildlife conservation

Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours

WTA at Australia’s first national Bird Fair

WTA at Australia’s first national Bird Fair

Australia’s first national Bird Fair has just been held over the weekend of 25-26 October

More accurately, it is the Australasian Bird Fair (that is, including not just Australia but also New Guinea and New Zealand)


Wildlife Tourism Australia held a display on wildlife tourism, birds and minimal-impact wildlife-viewing, and promoted many of our members’ products

It was also a great event for networking with folk from around Australia (including Christmas Island) and the rest of the world (including PNG, New Zealand, India, Guyana, Colombia and Africa). Displays included birding tours, conservation and natural history groups (not just birds – bats, reptiles and frogs were there as well), retailers of binoculars and spotting scopes, and some delightful arts and crafts. Events included many talks, films, bird walks and children’s activities.

It was good also to catch up with some WTA members who attended, from Cassowary House, Sicklebill Safaris, O’Reilly’s and Boutique Tours

We found many visitors to our display were surprised and pleased at WTA’s commitment to environmentally-responsible tourism, supporting the protection of wildlife habitat and minima-impact wildlife-viewing.

We hope this Bird Fair is just the beginning of a line of valuable annual events

Venus Bay Eco Retreat selected!

Congratulations Venus Bay Eco Retreat!

Venus Bay Eco Retreat has been selected as one of four finalists in the Victorian Regional Achievement and Community Awards in the Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability category.  The final category winners will be announced this coming Friday, and you’re invited to attend the awards night!

Awards Gala Presentation Dinner:
The Gala Awards Presentation Dinner is an event where finalists from all over Victoria come together to celebrate the fantastic achievements of those in regional and rural areas. The Gala Dinner consists of a 3 course dinner, feature presentation of finalists and winners from each Award Category.

Date:  Friday October 24th 2014
Times:  7.00pm – midnight
Location: Etihad Stadium
Admission:  $99 (includes three course meal, beer, wine and softdrink)

More info on the awards night here:

Good luck Mae from everyone at Wildlife Tourism Australia!

Heroic Tourism

Heroic Tourism

Heroic tourism“Saving the world one holiday at a time”

Two environmental graduates, Gemma Lunn and Jessie Panazzolo have recently uncovered a new and exciting method of achieving global conservation through nothing more than mass tourism and some changed perspectives. Heroic Tourism is defined as the art of saving the world whilst travelling and it stresses that becoming a tourism hero is no more difficult than deciding which pair of socks to put on. The fundamental difference to sock choices is that heroic tourism aids in not footwear decisions but rather decisions on what tourism ventures tourists should be and shouldn’t be partaking in, with the intentions of education and good decision making influencing a few saved animals and ecosystems here and there.

Heroic Tourism currently stands as a website ( and a facebook page (, both of which have been developed to provide all the knowledge needed to make conservation conscious decisions while on holiday.

The theory behind Heroic Tourism is that western societies contribute to supporting a vast array of tourism ventures worldwide, and thus with the right decisions, ethical tourist destinations can be supported and thus some unique wildlife and habitats may have a chance of survival.

Many critically endangered animals all around the world are currently being negatively impacted by tourism such as endemic Madagascan lemurs, Asian elephants and many many more species which fall threat to tourism ventures such as feeding parks and elephant rides.

Hopefully with Heroic Tourism, people will have all the tools needed to choose the right venture to suit their holiday, and also the lives of animals and habitats on a global scale.

So check out Heroic Tourism and be a hero, save the world on your next holiday!

Top 5 Wildlife Destinations for Caravan Travel in Australia

Top 5 Wildlife Destinations for Caravan Travel in Australia

Australia offers travellers a cornucopia of potential wildlife experiences, with many diverse ecosystems spanning across our great nation. Here are the top 5 best caravan holiday destinations for getting amongst the wildlife.

Daintree Rainforest (Mossman Gorge)

Daintree Rainforest (Mossman Gorge) CC Image Courtesy Francisco Martins

1. Daintree Rainforest (Mossman Gorge)

The Daintree Rainforest is the biggest tropical rainforest in Australia. It spans some 12,000-square-kilometres and it’s one of the most diverse and complex rainforests on earth. As such, the habitat is home to thousands of living creatures, including 90 per cent of Australia’s bat and butterfly species, and three per cent of our reptile and marsupial species. It is perhaps the best vantage point to see some of Australia’s more exotic creatures.

Although you can’t actually caravan within the rainforest area, the Daintree Riverview Caravan Park is just around the corner, sitting beside the Daintree River.

If you would like fun and informative commentary while traveling through the Daintree Rainforest, take a look at the Self-Drive audio guide. Here is a great library of images displaying the beauty of the Daintree.


Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island (Vivonne Bay Jetty) CC Image Courtesy Roger Smith

2.  Kangaroo Island (Vivonne Bay Jetty)

When it comes to Australian animals there is hardly a better place to visit than Kangaroo Island, off the coast of Adelaide.

Named after one of the country’s mascot animals, the island is not only home to countless kangaroos and wallabies, koalas were introduced there to the point where they are now eating up all of the gum trees.

If you’re lucky you’ll catch a seal sun baking on the beach, or you’ll spot a goanna rummaging in the bush.

Kangaroo Island Shores Caravan Park is the closest park to the mainland, just off the Sealink ferry.

Find more great parks in South Australia here.


Great Ocean Road (Twelve Apostles) CC Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Great Ocean Road (Twelve Apostles)
CC Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

3.  Great Ocean Road (Twelve Apostles)

You can’t devise a list of Australia’s best driving trips without mentioning the Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria.

It is regarded as one of the country’s most scenic and interesting routes. It’s also home to the Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park, which is 20 minutes from the iconic Twelve Apostles.

You can expect to see almost all of Australia’s much-loved animals, including kangaroos, koalas and wombats.

On the shore there are excellent whale watching opportunities, as well as the chance to see dolphins frolicking and seals basking in the exquisite surroundings.


Kimberly (Z Bend) CC Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Kimberly (Z Bend)
CC Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

4.  Kimberley (Z Bend)

If you’re up for a bit of adventure, the Kimberley region in northern Western Australia is one of Australia’s treasured areas, and one of the earliest settled parts of the country.

Arid landscape, exotic reptiles including snakes, lizards and crocodiles, and a plethora of birds species, the Kimberley is a spectacular place to visit.

In terms of places to stay, you have the option of camping in outback style or you can go for a bit more luxury and book a site at one of the many fine caravan parks such as the Kimberleyland Holiday Park on Lake Kununurra.


Cradle Mountain CC Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Cradle Mountain CC Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

5.  Tasmania (Cradle Mountain)

Once you get over Bass Strait, Tasmania is an incredibly tranquil and relaxing place to caravan.

There are plenty of opportunities to see some of Australia’s cutest and shyest animals. Have you ever seen a platypus? Your chances are significantly higher in Tasmania, where there are loads of crisp freshwater creeks.

Wombats and pygmy possums (the world’s smallest possum) also enjoy living in Tassie, and being nearer to the South Pole, there’s also a great chance to see penguins on the beaches.

Driving around parts of the mainland is easy and there are heaps of caravan parks, including top-rated BIG4 parks in Hobart, Bicheno, and across at Ulverstone.


Author - Brett Davis

Author – Brett Davis

Author: Brett Davis is obsessed with driving and travel, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After earning a degree in journalism he started his career as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine and then moved on to Currently he is an editor at

Wildlife Tourism Workshop Perth 25 November

Wildlife Tourism Workshop:

Innovation and diversity of experience in Sustainable Wildlife Tourism

 Perth 25 November 2014

Half-day workshop conducted by Wildlife Tourism Australia, at Murdoch University, Perth, attended by almost 30 people from diverse backgrounds. Thanks to Professor David Newsome of Murdoch University for arranging the room and afternoon tea for us (and attending part although extremely busy organising the ITSA conference that week).

This report is still somewhat in draft form, and we would appreciate feedback from hose who participated, especially if we have left anything out or misinterpreted any of the notes from our scrubes

Innovation and diversity of experience in Sustainable Wildlife Tourism

What wildlife species are fascinating and appealing but not well promoted for tourism? Why?

Suggested discussion points:

  • What features of these animals would appeal to visitors? All visitors or a subset of visitors?
  • Ae there some that would be easy to show visitors but just not yet ‘famous’ enough?
  • What makes some of them difficult to view? Consider small vertebrates, invertebrates, nocturnal animals, cryptic species, marine, aquatic and terrestrial, animals in remote areas, etc. Can these difficulties be overcome?

Results from discussion:

Animals that are not well promoted for tourism:

  • Numbats, honey possums, tammar wallaby, bilbiesunique species but with a restricted range, not easy to find and not well-known by tourists (or Aussies!)
  • Rock-wallabies, phascogales, ringtail possums, woylie (bettong), chudditch (quoll), mulgarras, quendas, bandicoots, water rat, other small and medium-sized mammals
  • Echidnas (should be better-known as the ‘other’ egg-layer, not compared to porcupines or hedgehogs)
  • Many mammals are very active – don’t hang around for long – ths hard to predict where to view them
  • Emu – common in Australia but exciting for visitors
  • Malleefowl – unusual breeding behaviour and handsome bird
  • Black cockatoos – not as well known as other cockatoos (not used in pet trade) but are striking birds (and cockatoos are an Australian group of birds – very few outside of Australia)
  • Thorny devil (Molloch horridus) – bizarre appearance and movement, and intriguing adaptations for moisture retention, but can be hard to find in wild
  • Perentie (largest Australian reptile other than crocodile), bob-tailed gecko
  • Dragons
  • Shark Bay sea-snakes – endemic and non-tropical, need to find out whee and when to view them’
  • Frogs can be very appealing, but are nocturnal, some are only seen or heard seasonally, and it can be difficult to predict when conditions will be right (e.g. warm wet evenings). They sometimes need to be handled for identification but a permit is needed for this. Chytrid fungus and other diseases could be spread if not very careful, and frogs can start dehydrating from the saltiness of human hands if held too long. If keeping captive frogs, their progeny can not be released, but if keeping only females (to prevent breeding) they won’t call, as only males call.
  • Blue-ringed octopus (not for petting though! Venomous)
  • Insects – e.g. spider-eating wasps: large, colourful and conspicuous, quite common, and not aggressive
  • Plants shouldn’t be ignored as being part of our wildlife – e.g. wildflowers, orchids, mangrove tours at Dolphin Discovery Centre, Christmas bush
  • Bush tucka (wild foods)
  • Feral animals – camels, dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits (for interpretation about conservation problems?) Some suggestion of recreational hunting as a way of controlling these, others felt it better to employ professional hunters as needed, not promote hunting as a sport
  • Reasons for research often not well communicated

Places deserving more attention in or near Perth:

  • Birds at Blue Gum Lake, dusk and early morning
  • Lake Joondalup – many birds are feeding as it dries up
  • Busselton Wetlands (Ramsar-listed Vasse-Wonnerup System) – Wetlands with open water and salt marsh. Peak of 35,000 birds of 60 species plus ‘feeding frenzies’ of egrets, herons, etc. in Dec-Jan each year. Largest regular breeding colony black swans (mid-July – late Sep/Oct) in SW WA. Limited public access. Trails Masterplan developed and first stage of construction commenced.
  • Milyu in South Perth (
  • Melville Waters ( Bibra Lake (,_Western_Australia)

Other notes:

  • Attributes that make tourists want to see animals – cuteness, danger/adrenalin (snakes, crocodiles, sharks), uniqueness (kangaroos, platypus), peculiar/bizarre (platypus, thorny devil),
  • Attributes of birds: new, lesser-known birds for twitchers, large flocks of birds (or bats), spectacular birds, unusual birds (for visitors) such as cockatoos, malleefowl, jacanas
  • Cost can make travel prohibitive – e.g. going north for crocodiles, from east to west coast for whale-sharks
  • Some good wildlife viewing areas are on Indigenous lands with very limited access, permits needed (but the permits are possible, and there is great potential for tours by Indigenous guides), or on private lands which would be very suitable if public liability costs were not so prohibitive
  • Some locations are difficult to access due to remoteness, difficult terrain, lack of experience etc. or potentially dangerous (ocean, other water, desert). 4WD needed to reach some areas – and we need protocols for off-road driving.
  • There are some quarantine areas because of infectious diseases of plants or animals
  • More education is needed for tour operators and tourists on opportunities for new experiences and on appropriate behaviour etc. (for safety and environmental sustainability)
  • Feeding or other habituation to bring animals close for viewing can sometimes alter behaviour to the extent that the experience is less satisfying for those who want to view authentic wild behaviour
  • Critically-endangered species should not be disturbed (we need some no-go areas, or seasonally no-go, or remote viewing)

How can we enhance the viewing experience without increasing negative impact?

What are some existing innovations in wildlife viewing that could be more widely employed? What are some potential ones that haven’t yet been tried?

Suggested discussion points:

  • Think of those that are difficult to view. Can we view them
    either directly or indirectly (remote-sensing, tracks and burrows …)?
  • Can conventional ways of viewing better enable closer views without disturbance – educating of small groups of tourists before approaching animals, habituating shy animals before bringing in tourists, better understanding of behaviour of animals, to work in with their behaviour patterns
  • Underwater hotels
  • Ziplines through forest canopy (if done well, they can be unobtrusive and quiet journeys through the canopy with emphasis on interpretation rather than adventure)
  • Apps that lead you on a nature trail that also takes you ‘out of the app’ and really experiencing nature
  • incorporating wildlife-related experiences into theme parks – e.g. fly like a bat, glide like a gliding possum, explore underground worlds or deep ocean, travel through a platypus tunnel ….)
  • new ways of experiencing wildlife in zoos? In national parks? On private lands?
  • webcams at outback waterholes, reefs or treetops for hotel guests to watch animal behaviour while enjoying dinner or breakfast …)

Results from discussion:

Ideas for viewing and interpretation:

  • Frogs – they can (with a permit) be handled with clean, moistened hands, viewed in terraria or identified by their calls. Should there be some research into the safe release of un-diseased captive-bred frogs so more can be kept and bred in captivity. Frog tourism would appeal only to small subset of tourists, but frogs could be combined with other features such as platypus-watching or nocturnal birdwatching, or situations such as the terrariums at Cedar Creek winery and glow caves
  • Handling of wildlife generally – may be okay for trained tour guide to handle animals and show guests if linked with research project. Consider qualifications, certificataion of competency.
  • Mammals that can be hard to find (e.g. numbats, honey possums) can be ‘matched up’ with searches for easier creatures (e.g. woylies in the west, or fruitbat colonies on the east coast)
  • Trapping can be used – especially if this can be part of a conservation or research project, not just trapping solely to show tourists. Some animals can become trap-shy – or trap-happy (knowing they’ll get a free feed!).
  • Marine petting pool – can expand, and used in more sites
  • Nocturnal tours – can combine animal-viewing with star-grazing, and include invertebrates (fire-flies, spiders ) and luminous fungi, not just mammals and birds. Night-vision goggles are a novelty for many and allow unobtrusive watching of animal behaviour.
  • Feeding can be used in some ‘sacrificial sites’ as long as tourists are told clearly not to feed them elsewhere, and if they are not fed enough to become dependent or seriously alter behaviour. Some could be fed for a while and weaned off it to see if they still hang around.
  • Indirect evidence of animal presence can be used as a backup plan for times the animal itself doesn’t appear- e.g. scats, tracks, nests, burrows, hollows, food-plants, scratches on trunks
  • Recorded bird calls can be used either for identification or to call up birds, but there are problems with the latter if it wastes too much energy of birds coming to defend their territories (e.g. 40-spotted pardalote in Tasmania), or scares some birds by playing predator calls (such as powerful owl)
  • Bat detectors, Anabats and apps can be useful for microbats – identification will improve as more calls are added to a reference library, but even demonstrating the variety can be of interest without necessarily identifying all
  • ultraviolet light can be used to view scorpions, torches (flashlight) show spider eyes, red light can be used for mammals and turtles as they don’t see it as well as white light (although Robyn Wilson found that for several species of possum the dimming of the light was more important than the colour of the filter)
  • Radio-tracking is very useful for showing where animals are, and could be useful to research and monitoring if linked with suitable projects
  • Remote-controlled drones with cameras could be used if eco-friendly and ecotourist-friendly, especially for colonies such as sea-lions – if not too loud
  • Use of webcams at water-holes, treetops, underground burrows etc. – important to place in area where viewing is likely, to show there really is wildlife around. Film from webcams can be viewed remotely – best used as supplement rather than substitute for direct viewing (tourists have travelled to see animals, don’t want to only view what they could see on internet back home), but could be very useful when direct viewing is not possible, or to demonstrate the presence of animals in nearby habitats to travellers who would otherwise be unaware of it. Once they are aware they may see the habitat as more interesting, and be more prepared to subsequently support its conservation.
  • dung-cams (? David Attenborough mentioned in connection with these), other cameras used by DA, endoscopes in burrows, hollows or logs, scopes in nestboxes with plug-in laptop attachment for viewing and monitoring
  • live footage with explanatory notes, narratives – could be of anials outside vehicle, being shown at visitor centre, accommodation or within vehicle (if not readily viewed directly – e.g. leaf-tail geckos on high tree-trunk, shy animals that would flee if people leave vehicle)
  • Could a go-pro be attached to an animal??? Dolphin bird, wombat … (probably wouldn’t get permit to do this with wildlife – what abut go-pro on domestic animal on a farm stay or cattle station open to ecotourism, e.g.a sheep or cow that might wander through the bush amongst emus, kangaroos and flocks of parrots etc.)
  • Viewing platforms could be used in trees, underwater and perhaps underground
  • Underwater observatories at Busselton Jetty? Monkey Mia?
  • Submarines to 100m Perth crater/canyon
  • more walkways at Mt Franklin, Poronorups, Albany
  • Organise different categories of tours – less interactions, less cost, more interactions, more cost; take small groups to see nocturnal animals and provide vale-for-money experiences
  • Hovercrafts?
  • Zip-lines? (they can be environmentally-sensitive and used for serious viewing of camopy flora and fauna, not Tarzan-style)
  • Eco-friendly cable-cars, and live footage from these
  • Fear (e.g. of sharks) can be a drawcard, and visitors can get an adrenalin rush even when not in danger (swimming with reef sharks, enhanced by a feeling that underwater is not our natural habitat, taking us out of our comfort one). Interpretation can be effective while the emotional arousal is high. Recent interest in sharks in WA (because of attacks and culling) can be used for PR. Consider hotspots for shark presence, swimming restrictions, link with whale migration patterns
  • Invertebrate sampling, as used to be done by Ribbons of Blue.
  • Include flora amongst wildlife – flowering, fruiting plants, fungi (great variety, including ‘ghost fungi’)
  • Take people walking in water in wetlands through routes where impact is minimal
  • Alternative forms of transport – e.g. quad bikes used responsibly on establish trails (as in Local Bay at Monkey Mia)
  • Consider different factors appealing to different kinds of tourist (adventure-seekers, backpacker volunteers, passive natural experience) – endangered, dangerous, size (e.g. pigmy possum)
  • nature walks (developed and undeveloped), walking safaris
  • bird hides, overnight hides, tree-houses (accommodation, also act as hides)
  • Nocturnal hotels?
  • underground tunnels to viewing platforms at waterholes
  • Science safaris – volunteers pay to participate in research that allows them to see animals otherwise difficult to view (e.g. Whiteman Park, Karyana, Mallefowl Centre, Dryandra)
  • Apps for nature trails, info on animals you see, where animals are now, butneed more reception for mobile phones and wifi in many regions
  • Geocaching (including earth-caching and puzzle-caching with wildlife theme)
  • Hot air balloons

Other notes:

  • Shires need to promote their “treasures”
  • WA tends to attract more eco-minded tourists (those wanting city life tend to go t east coast) – so may have subgroup of tourists already more disposed to nature tourism, visiting remote areas, seeing rare wildlife, voluntourism etc.
  • Main market seems to be 20- to 40-year-old foreigners (but there is also market for families, gap-years and middle-age/seniors
  • Breeding programs for conservation can be supported by tourists wanting to see the rarer creatures (in captivity)
  • Tour operators need to educate visitors through website information on the animals, on difficulties of finding some (so their expectations are not too high and they know they need to be patient) and on appropriate behaviour when viewing them
  • Must develop correct protocols and make these known
  • Animals live in wide territories, so ourists need to be taken or directed to specificic sites where probability of sighting is increased
  • if viewing aquatic species, special skills may be needed – diving, boating etc.

What seasonal spectacles could we make better use of?

Suggested discussion points:

  • Migrating birds, mass irruptions of insects, coral spawning …
  • Direct and indirect viewing
  • Linking with another experience (evening cocktails under the moon waiting for outdoor screen showing live-streaming of coral spawning …..)

Results from discussion:

Species that migrate

  • Are there some butterflies or other insects that migrate predictably like the monarchs in North America?
  • Bogong moths in alpine areas, and the small mammals that feed on them
  • Birds – regular migrants and nomads (e.g. Broome, Rottnest Island, saltlakes in wheatbelt or outback)
  • Whale sharks – already well-known

Other seasonal events:

  • Flora flowering/fruiting, emergence of fungi after wet season
  • Birds and butterflies that come in for wildflowers, interpretation can include plant-animal interactions, and inclusion of wildlife in promotion can have wider appeal
  • Coral spawning??? But water top murky to see anything
  • Turtle nesting (already well-known)
  • Other reptiles – snakes, goannas etc. more active in warm months
  • Rhianthella – underground seasonality
  • At change of wet/dry seasons – big scorpions, phasmids etc


How do we best employ tour operations in wildlife research to enhance our knowledge of wildlife and monitor for conservation?

Suggested discussion points:

Wildlife Tourism Australia’s Australian Wildlife Research Network connecting tour operators, researchers and volunteer tourists

What can tourists, professional researchers and operators gain from this?

What are some of the problems involved in using volunteers and tour operators

without a science background for research projects and how do we best overcome these?

What are some of the wildlife research projects we most urgently need to pursue?

Which projects would most lend themselves to collaborative research between

operators, both within a region (e.g. to get enough data on similar observations for valid analysis) or between different regions (e.g. migration routes)

What kinds of research do we need for different kinds of tourist? Ways of communicating to people of different nationalities, ages and personality types? Etc.

Results from discussion:

How do we fund the research?

  • Crowd-funding – contributors can be rewarded by having animals named after them, being allowed to participate in special research activities, being sent t-shirts etc. Website connected with this
  • Grants
  • Lotteries West (for not-for-profits)

Most urgent research:

  • How much public awareness exists of particular animals, interesting sites, conservation issues etc.?
  • What kinds of wildlife experience could encourage travellers to stay an extra night, make repeat visits etc. (thus assisting tour operators and local economies), including regional areas?
  • Research on impacts of tourism on species and on natyre generally
  • Research likely to bring financial gain to tour operators, or indirectly helping with their businesses, is most likely to be supported by them
  • How does disease spread between humans, domestic animals and wildlife? How do we then best get accurate messages out to the public without the media distorting and sensationalising?
  • What are the potential impacts, both in general and at particular sites, including unintentional side effects that could result from new activities? (e.g. provision of more water could bring in common animals displacing rare ones, as used to happen at GluePot Reserve in SA, planting more winter-fruiting plants in high altitudes in NSW resulted in currawongs staying in the mountains for the winter and then preying on nestlings of other birds in the spring)
  • Research into effective interpretation, including a variety of interpretation methods and styles to suit different individuals and groups.
  • Research on fisheries to be opened up in the Abrolhos
  • Rehabilitation projects


  • Dryandra
  • Project Eden – most of the year
  • Project Fairy Tern already use Volunourism
  • Whale-watching at Ningaloo
  • Bird projects – 2020 bird counts, Peel Harvey 2-day workshop (research projects, lots of people on ground), cocky count
  • Cat sterilisation (we were told it is happening, but what part does research or voluntoursm play?)

Other matters

  • Some research may be costly in resources that could better be used for viewing or conservation purposes, especially if the results of the research are not likely to be acted upon
  • collate statistics via questionnaire/feedback forms – e.g. how many animals seen. Share this information.
  • Can we take people out into less-travelled regions using iconic animals to bring in voluntourism research (myrtle rust etc)
  • Conservation activities can be based on research fndings o iconic species, endangered or priority species, and their survival or disappearance
  • Results of research should be communicated for use in management plans and projects
  • Collaborate with research groups, universities – e.g. feeding dolphins by volunteer groups, educate people of nature of animal benefits and potential problems (e.g. disturbance to ecosystem, spread of disease, misinformation)
  • Consider whether it is worth the cost to employ specialists
  • Much research by academics stays in the academic literature and is not readily available to travellers or tour operators. Much needs to be distilled and communicated in appropriate language to various end-users. One-page reports ar best for busy readers.
  • Citizen science brings in a new tourism audience
  • Appropriate methodology is essential for research and monitoring if results are to be meaningful and useful. Research must be robust, repeatable, rigorous: identify those parts of research that tourists can do, to ensure this is adhered to.
  • Identify attractive wildlife to get punters. If the research that really needs doing doesn’t sound attractive, marry it to something that does – e.g. if studying Phytphthera on Banksia, marry this to honey possums and colourful nectarivorous birds that depend on the banksia, and nclude some spotlightin/birdwatching or at least videos of the animals amongst the experience of observing fungi on plants.
  • Tourists need ‘cliches’ to attract them – e.g. Pinnacles Tour
  • Tour operators can be trained to participate in research with government (and academia)
  • Better communication is needed between researchers and managers, so researchers know what managers need and managers better understand the scientific process or valid monitoring methods
  • voluntourists in conservation monitoring
  • international tourists can bring their own experience and perspective (scientists travel too – and also people who have had voluntourism experience elsewhere, as well as general background knowledge and experience in their homelands or elsewhere)
  • DPAW signage is important
  • Tourists can gain much from participation – ‘warm and fuzzies,’ work experiene, acknowledgments in paper, improve English, lose weight (!), hands-on experience
  • Professional researchers gain free labour, new ideas, get to educate others, mney for research, free food and wine
  • Operators gain knowledge, unique selling points, reputation, eco-accreditation, income and employment, expansion f operations
  • Australian Wildlife Research Network – it was asked whether this is an entity. It is a service provided by Wildlife Tourism Australia, with its own website. See
  • Volunteers contribute to conservation by ‘spreading the word’ afterwards


Also see:



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