Our Environmental Practices
Wild Koala Research
Improving our Environment on Tours
Client Pre-Trip Information
Local Community Involvement
Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle on Tours
- All our tours are fully guided by experienced, well-trained Nature Guides.
- Our Nature Guides are trained to impart an environmental ethic that respects the animals and ecosystems that we encounter. We inform our guests of the least intrusive way to behave around wild animals. We speak quietly around wildlife, walk slowly towards them, stopping often, and we insist that our guests do the same. We all remain at least 10 metres away from wild koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and possums, as these animals are easily distressed. This is a self-imposed limit.
- We train our Nature Guides intensively and continuously and we encourage further learning on all aspects of the environment. Natural history books are available to all Nature Guides on loan from our collection. We compile Special Sightings every month with a list and photographs of all unusual sightings of animals, insects, plants to keep Guides up to date. This is sent to all our Nature Guides, Field Guides, Researchers and to the local Field Naturalist Club, Bird Observers Club and local National Park Rangers.
- The owners, with over 17 years experience with wildlife, are often invited to give talks to interest groups, universities and community groups about wildlife behaviour and working with Australian wildlife in the wild. We often work with media, promoting the inherent value of wild animals, the region and the ethics of eco- and wildlife-tourism.
- For the past 12 years we have tracked and monitored the movements and lives of the hundreds of wild koalas that we encounter on our tours. Each resident koala is named, photographed and identifying markings are noted. These wild Koalas are not tagged, caught or handled in any way – they are identified by observation at a distance, through binoculars. Each day every koala found is located on a map, they are photographed, the tree species they are in and all behaviour is noted.
- At the end of each year these findings are compiled, analysed and a report for the year is provided to all our Guides, Koala Researchers and to the National Parks Service, local Field Naturalist Club and Koala-specialist Wildlife Carers and veterinarians to assist with understanding of Koalas in this particular wild habitat.
- This Project is our own initiative, and fully funded by our tour company. A Researcher is employed one day per week to input data, and on every tour a Koala Researcher/Field Guide goes out ahead of the tour group to find Koalas and monitor them before the group arrives. This ensures a high degree of success with koala sightings (100% over the past 3 years) and adds 3 hours of monitoring data to each day’s sightings.
- The wildlife habitat is a privately owned property of 14.5 ha/36 acres in the Brisbane Ranges west of Melbourne, adjacent to the Brisbane Ranges National Park. 75% of the property is natural Box-Ironbark woodland – an important and endangered habitat type. The other 25% of the property was old lightly grazed farmland, mostly cleared but largely covered in native grasses. Grasslands are one of Australia’s most endangered habitat types.
- The aim for this site is to retain the existing habitat and improve it for the use of wildlife. So far we have created a new wetland from the remains of an old shed foundation, planted over 300 indigenous trees, grasses and shrubs and improved the water quality of the existing wetland where we have frogs, yabbies and visiting herons,spoonbills and more.
- In time we will create wildlife corridors, remove all weeds, and improve the diversity of the existing woodland by putting back the species that have been removed in the past. Already we have a resident mob of Eastern-grey Kangaroos, at least 2 Swamp Wallabies, the occasional visit from a Koala, and many birds.
- we take all rubbish with us when we go, often including anything we find left behind by others. All natural products (95% of our rubbish) are brought back to base and composted.
- we check the fireplaces left by others in the National Parks we visit, and put out any campfires left in a dangerous condition.
- we gently inform other park users of the laws and codes of the National Parks. For instance we often stop and ask dog owners to put their dog on a leash while in the You Yangs Regional Park, which helps protect the wildlife.
- we are active in promoting the care and rehabilitation of injured native wildlife. The owner and three of our Guides hold permits for wildlife rescue and care.
- train all our staff to look out for injured native wildlife, and we carry a first aid kit for wildlife in all vehicles. We stop and check road-killed animals, and often move them off the road to prevent native predators from being killed by cars whilst feeding on roadkill.
- we drive slowly in National Parks and wildlife areas to avoid killing or injuring wildlife on the road
all tours that visit the You Yangs Regional Park the Guide and Koala
Researcher remove Boneseed - an invasive, introduced weed.
Boneseed covers large areas and crowds out smaller native shrubs
(particularly fruiting saltbushes) and grasses that are food for
wallabies, kangaroos and a huge variety of small birds. Over
five years we have been visiting this Park we have seen a noticeable
reduction in this weed species in the areas we visit most.
- As a serious and committed ecotour operator, our emissions from vehicle fuel have long been a concern for us. While we can't forego the use of vehicles, we do everything we can to limit unnecessary usage. So we have implemented a simple, set pickup schedule, just for the Savannah Walkabout one day tour. We have chosen five hotels that are quick and easy to access, are easy to find, and are already popular with our guests and agents: SW pickup locations map
- we clean our vehicles with one small bucket of recycled water (we trap clean cold water from the shower before it heats up) and an “Enjo”-style re-usable cloth that uses no chemicals and very little water to clean. After use the water is put on our native garden.
- we wash linen/tablecloths and all our own clothing in phosphate-free, biodegradable washing detergent. All the “grey” water from the washing machine goes onto our native garden. Our garden is never watered with fresh, unrecycled tap water.
- we wash crockery, cutlery and food containers using biodegradable detergents.
- we buy locally produced fruit from our local market and independent businesses, where possible. All fruit supplied on tour is Australian grown.
- we buy locally produced sandwiches made by an independent small business within 500m of our office/base. Food is picked up each morning on foot, or on the way to the guest pickup.
- we support local independent shops and accommodation on our extended tours by eating-in at cafes some days and by ordering packed picnic lunches from our accommodation provider.
- we call all clients the day before their tour to answer any questions they may have, confirm timings, what to bring, most suitable clothing and to give a weather forecast.
- for day tours: we give all clients a note of introduction with important contact information, and a short summary of their day.
- for extended tours: we give all clients detailed wildlife and natural history notes.
- clients receive a keepsake – a wildlife art card produced on recycled paper, with some information about one of the animals we are likely to see on tour. The artwork is done in-house by the owner.
- all our Nature Guides, Field Guides and Researchers live locally – many in the smaller towns outside of Melbourne, close to the sites where we operate.
- we are active members of the local Field Naturalists Groups and Bird Observers Clubs in the areas we work in.
- we share our wildlife sightings with local people visiting the National Park – often passers-by notice our group looking at a koala, for instance, and so we invite them to join us for a short time to see and learn about the animal. This encourages local pride in the wildlife and in the area.
- from the beginning, the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative have been involved in our planning and research for tours in their area. They taught us what to say about their Culture and how to say it. They continue to be valued mentors to our business.
- we promote and encourage Aboriginal–guided cultural interpretation on all group, special and private tours.
- we employ Aboriginal Guides as much as possible. No non-Aboriginal person should speak for the Aboriginal People of Australia. In addition, we and our Aboriginal mentors teach our non-Aboriginal Guides about the protocols of dealing with, and speaking about, Aboriginal People.
- our specialized food for Private tours is prepared by a local Aboriginal-owned business.
- we create awareness and understanding of the local Aboriginal Culture by working with and learning from the local indigenous people, employing indigenous people where possible, including them in tours where possible and passing on respect for their culture to our guests and staff.
- we minimise vehicle travel and fuel use by employing local people and using local suppliers and businesses as much as possible.
- we minimize off-road vehicle travel. Our tours are designed in such a way that vehicle travel is conducted on made roads. We do not use four-wheel drive vehicles for passenger transport – they are not required and their energy costs are high.
- we avoid disposable plastic bags for carrying or storage of fruit. Instead we pack our fruit into re-usable, washable canvas bags for carrying, and store fruit in re-used stay-fresh green bags designed to keep food fresh. These bags are washed and re-used until they wear out.
- we avoid disposable products. Our cutlery, crockery and food containers are all enamel, metal and hard recyclable plastic and are washed and re-used.
- we transport food in hard recyclable plastic containers which are washed and re-used, or in paper bags which are composted or recycled.
- we discourage the use of throw-away plastic water bottles by recommending that travellers bring their own bottle which we re-fill on request with tap water from a large storage container. We do not provide disposable water bottles to our guests – if travellers don’t have their own bottle we offer a plastic cup which we wash and re-use.
- we pack dirty dishes in washable fabric bags while on tour, rather than in plastic.
- we compost food scraps. The compost is used on our bush property/wildlife refuge to assist the growth of native plants.