AUSTRALIA’S SOUTH WEST
DESTINATION OF THE MONTH
WEEK 4 OF 5
As a destination with some of the most pristine coastline and natural landscapes this side of the equator, there’s no wonder ecotourism is at the forefront of travellers’ and tourism business owners’ minds.
In fact, the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is Western Australia’s first Certified Eco Destination, and one of only four in Australia. The rigorous certification process by Ecotourism Australia is recognised globally and is awarded based on all aspects of local sustainability, assessing efforts from the entire community, local government and the tourism industry.
With this in mind, here are some Eco Accredited luxury experiences in the Margaret River region & beyond in Australia’s South West that will have visitors feeling good about their contribution to sustainable travel.
Up Close with Wildlife
Extending 1.841 kilometres over the protected waters of Geographe Bay, Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Heritage-listed, the jetty also features a solar-powered electric train to ferry visitors to its end, where they will discover the Underwater Observatory. Descend 8 metres below the waves to view Australia’s greatest artificial reef on the piles, watching the marine life in awe through eleven viewing windows at various levels within the 9.5 metres diameter observation chamber. Think vividly coloured tropic and sub-tropical corals, sponges, fish, invertebrates and much more – all while staying dry.
Servicing the entire Margaret River region, South West Eco Discoveries takes visitors on nature and wine tours that showcase the best of the region. Owned and run by brothers who have lived in Busselton and Dunsborough their entire lives, they offer a unique guided insight into the marine environment, flora, fauna, geography and history of Geographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste. Their Nocturnal Animal Tour in particular is a favourite – giving guests the chance to observe critically endangered Woylies (Brush-tailed Bettongs) and other night animals on an evening tour in the Australian bush.
Images courtesy of South West Eco Discoveries, Nocturnal Animal Tour – Margaret River Region
Australia’s South West has one of the longest whale migration seasons in the world, with more than 30,000 humpback, southern right and even blue whales passing through the south west corner annually. Join experts at Naturaliste Charters from Augusta (May – August), Busselton (August – November) or Dunsborough (September – November) for an up-close experience with these gentle giants. Further afield than Margaret River, they also offer Bremer Bay Orca Tours, a full day charter off the coast of Bremer Bay to the Bremer Canyon, where the largest known pod of orca in the Southern Hemisphere congregate from January to early April each year.
Although not officially Eco Accredited, local vineyard and cellar door Passel Estate provided refuge to a family (or Passel) of Western Ringtail Possums that were displaced by bushfires in 2011. Since then, two soft-release enclosures have been built alongside the creekline, to enable the successful rehabilitation of more Western Ringtail Possums at the estate, working alongside local conservation groups and guided by the code of practice for wildlife rehabilitation in Western Australia. Experience the local flora and fauna that co-exist in the vineyard on the Nature and Wine Walk, a private tour of the conservation sanctuary that pairs tastings of wine in situ alongside the very vines that went into the glass.
Adventure in Nature
The 124 kilometre-long Cape to Cape Track is considered a bucket-list end-to-end hike for many travellers to Western Australia.
Premium operator Walk Into Luxury is considered one of the Great Walks of Australia, offering a 4-day Cape to Cape Walk which combines guided walking on the best sections of the trail with luxury accommodation and Margaret River food and wine.
Cape to Cape Explorer Tours is an award-winning ecotourism operator that specialises in eco-conscious experiences with premier multi-day hiking tours on both the Cape to Cape Track and Bibbulmun Track. Join their passionate guides on 8-day guided end-to-end tours of the Cape to Cape Track to learn about the landscapes, savour incredible views, enjoy great coastal accommodation in either comfortable glamping bell tents, or 4-star Ultimate comfort resort, and feast on delicious catering that uses the freshest local ingredients.
For the ultimate in eco-luxury, Untamed Escapes offer a 4-day Yoga Retreat from Perth to Margaret River. Travellers will be connected with mind, body and country on this Margaret River Wellness Glamping Adventure. Untamed Escapes pride themselves on regenerative travel, focusing on becoming carbon-neutral and fostering environmental education to preserve the natural environment for generations to come.
Rest your Head
At Olio Bello Glamping, six luxury safari-style bungalows offer a unique lakeside glamping experience on a spectacular and award-winning 130 hectare organic olive farm. The 100% certified organic property is committed to the environment and world-class hospitality, with the bungalows built for minimal environmental impact and maximum comfort – each boasting a private en-suite, kitchenette, spacious viewing deck and bespoke interiors. Designed to withstand the South West’s most inclement winter weather, bungalows are airconditioned for comfort and offer bioethanol real flame fireplaces in winter months.
For special self-catering accommodation, try Bina Maya Yallingup Escape – set amongst 3 hectares of beautiful native Australian bushland on Wadandi Boodja (the land of the Saltwater people), the two Villas and Residence are sustainably built for the conscious traveller, welcoming couples, singles, friends and families.