Leaving the car or the tourist trail behind in favour of a walking holiday is all about immersion. It’s about feeling the earth beneath your feet, the sunshine filtering through the trees, and being in the right place at the right time to see wildlife in its native habitat, and wilderness in its most natural, untouched form. And for travellers with a passion for nature, there is now a way to take walking a step further – so to speak. Conservation projects entwined with a number of the Great Walks of Australia can have you taking a frontline role in saving species and rebuilding fragile ecosystems.
Maria Island’s devils
The oft-described ‘Noah’s Ark’ of Tasmanian wildlife, Maria Island has become a successful sanctuary for a range of marsupials such as kangaroos and wombats, and especially, Tasmanian devils. With 90 percent of Tasmania’s population of these fierce, roly-poly creatures affected by a deadly disease, this smaller island’s ‘safeguard’ population of carefully protected devils has thrived – to the point that healthy devils are being reintroduced to other parts of Tasmania from here. The Maria Island Walk is committed to this Save the Tasmanian Devil program to ensure a future for these unique natives.
Back to the wild
The ancient landscapes of South Australia’s Wilpena Pound are nothing short of spectacular, but were tamed at one point by a massive 24,000-hectare sheep station at Arkaba. However, the Arkaba Walk not only revels in the station’s new life as a private wildlife conservancy, run by Wild Bush Luxury; it also partners with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to ensure feral animals are minimised and the revived populations of native reptiles, birds and marsupials continue to flourish. Visitors can even witness and get involved with the monitoring and GPS marking work undertaken by their guides as they travel.
Glamping goes green
The Scenic Rim area in Queensland is rugged, prehistoric and raw in its volcanic wilderness – yet the Scenic Rim Trail combines this wildness with the luxury of Spicers Retreats’. The first night of this Great Walk is spent glamping at Spicers Canopy, an Advanced Ecotourism accredited property that demonstrates utter self-sustainability, thanks to the use of rainwater and solar power, as well as wood-fired cuisine sourced from the best of local produce.
Walking and boating along the stunning Murray River is a must for nature-loving Australian travellers, but this stretch of river has been under stress from farming, tourism and rising salinity. Visitors who take the Murray River Walk, though, can walk proudly; this Great Walk is enveloped entirely within the bounds of the Riverland Ramsar wetlands. Now that it is regenerating its fragile ecosystem, from its world-famous red gum trees to almost 200 species of birds, along with frogs, bats and fish, walkers can experience this beautiful, diverse environment safe in the knowledge that their Great Walk is helping commit resources to its protection.
This feature was created by Australian Traveller and supported by Great Walks of Australia.