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Rawnsley Park Eco Villas, Flinders Ranges

See South Australia without leaving your mark

Consider these 10 eco friendly experiences for your next South Australian holiday.

1. Explore the Spencer Gulf

Head to Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula to come face to face with the ocean’s most fascinating predator.

The Neptune Islands at the mouth of the Spencer Gulf is the only place in the country where you can cage dive with great whites.

An estimated 9000 people from around the world do so each year, but one operator offers a unique and eco-friendly experience.

In addition to cage diving, Adventure Bay Charters offers the Aqua Sub, a world first boat with a submersible glass viewing area to plunge non-divers into the realm of the sharks.

The sub is the invention of Matt Waller, whose eco-operation is dedicated to preservation and understanding of the animals.

He adamantly does not use bait and berley to attract them, instead, he uses rock music to lure the sharks.

Adventure Bay Charters also offers diving trips to swim with the rare Australian sea lions in Seal Cove at Hopkins Island.


2. Take an Indigenous tour that honours the land

Visit South Australia’s most significant archaeological sites with guides who are spiritually connected to them for a deeper, more memorable experience.

This multi-award winning, Aboriginal-owned tour operates in the Clare Valley, Burra, Mid North, Southern Flinders Ranges and Yorke Peninsula regions, taking half-day to five-day tours. Aboriginal Cultural Tours is 100 per cent Aboriginal owned, a South Australian Tourism multiple hall of famer, and holds serious eco credentials.

You’re led by knowledgeable Aboriginal guides, “who care about their country, live on country and know their country”, visiting ancient archaeological sites,   and looking at them through the perspective of the Aboriginal dreaming.

Rather than lead, Aboriginal Cultural Tours promises to “walk together with our guests, in the footsteps of our ancestors”, inviting them to look at the landscape through Aboriginal eyes to give a Dreaming perspective and a spiritual as well as physical experience.

Tag along in your own vehicle or ride with the guide, stopping for wildlife sightings, significant landscapes and in-the-field artefacts, dreamtime storytelling and performance.


3. See a festival with green cred

Take part in Adelaide’s groundbreaking cultural celebration knowing it treads as lightly as possible.

WOMADelaide, the four-day festival of world dance and music, food, environmental debate, artisan markets and artist symposiums has, since 1992,  been held in Botanic Park courtesy of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, which purchased the land for the park in 1866.

The Park is a 34ha arboretum of several hundred trees, some of which are more than a century old, vast lawns and endangered flora.

So WOMADelaide does as much as possible to protect the park and to leave it in the best possible condition, including  a sustainable waste management program managed by Adelaide Green Clean that avoids adding to landfill by ensuring the event only creates compostable and recyclable waste.

All organic waste generated at WOMADelaide is mulched, treated for composting and delivered back to and used by the Botanic Gardens, while $2 from every WOMADelaide ticket goes towards native tree plantings at the WOMADelaide Forest near Langhorne Creek.

It’s home to many rare and threatened bird species.


4. See animals in a place dedicated to conservation

Zoos SA is a conservation-based charity that exists to save species from extinction and connect people with nature. At 1500ha, Zoos SA’s Monarto is the largest open range zoo in Australia and home to the country’s largest giraffe herd. Visit a white rhino and other amazing animals in an environment guarded by strict sustainability measures.

Recent years have seen strict water and CO2 emission management schemes put into place as well as upping the ante on recycling and reducing landfill. In four years, recovery rate of waste went from 54 per cent to 82.

But of course, it’s in the care for endangered animals, research and conservation programs and the education of zoo visitors that Zoos SA excels, with the effects of its dedication felt around the world.

Black Rhino at the Monarto Zoo

Bring the family to see a rare Black Rhino at the Monarto Zoo

5. Seek out the natural wine vanguard of the Basket Range

There are plenty of wineries performing to best environmental practice in South Australia but at Basket Range in the Adelaide Hills, there’s an enclave of producers determined to do things a certain way.

The wines produced here are low on intervention and additions and the process is kept as simple and natural as possible.

The result is some of the most exciting wines in Australia right now. Names like Gentle Folk, Ochota Barrels and The Other Right may not be household, but in wine circles (and on the wine lists of top restaurants) they are revered.

Basket Range itself is a small town in the Adelaide Hills with plenty of Bed and Breakfast options surrounding, but few of the wineries of this ilk have cellar doors. Their best wines tend to sell out on release.

But the secluded area is a growing creative enclave, home to musicians, chefs and artists, attracted by the philosophy of the winemakers.

To taste the wines, research is rewarded. BK Wines’ chardonnay, for instance, is served at Restaurant Orana in Adelaide.


6. Visit the Banrock Station Wetlands

The 1375ha Banrock Station does a lot more than produce popular South Australian wines.

Recognising their wetlands adjacent to the Murray River were significant habitat, the owners have, since 1994, been restoring the area to its natural state. So successful have their efforts been, the award-winning project is now recognised as being of international importance.

It’s home to threatened animals, is a haven for migratory birds and a spectacular attraction for walkers. A recent artificial flooding of it has spurred on even more abundance. Native vegetation is flourishing and the quality of the environment has vastly improved.

That’s wonderful news for visitors, who can sit in the Banrock Station cellar door restaurant looking out over the beautiful vista or take to the walking options that range between one and three hours and take walkers along boardwalks traversing the important vegetation beds, wetlands, mallee and flood plains.


7. Taste guilt-free coffee and other produce

South Australia is home to incredible produce, and some of Australia’s leading sustainable practice producers, such as the Clare Valley’s grain and legume producer, Pangkarra, Kangaroo Island’s Southrock Lamb, and Port Elliot’s Coorong Cockles.

Head to local farmers’ markets and the many restaurants in the state that champion SA produce – you can usually find such outlets mentioned on the various producers’ websites.

South Australia’s new coffee movement is also a vanguard of sustainability and some have “cellar doors” where you can sample the complex flavours and textures of bespoke roasted single origin.

One of those is Dawn Patrol Coffee in Kangarilla.

The enterprise of three young South Australians, Dom Ossa, Saffy Ossa and friend and Adam Darrie, Dawn Patrol Coffee was established in 2014.

They have an outlet on Ebenezer Place in Adelaide, but their McLaren Vale HQ in Kangarilla includes an atmospheric cellar door where you can talk to the roasters while checking out the spoils of their magnificent obsession.


8. Enjoy a sustainable city stay.

From the kitchens to the swimming pool, the five-star Hilton Adelaide runs under an environmental program across all its operations with social responsibility at its heart.

Leading the charge is the hotel’s kitchen, where executive Chef Dan Fleming, is upholding the hotel’s vision in keeping food miles low.

Nearly all of the produce at the hotel’s restaurant, Coal Cellar + Grill is grown in South Australia (pepper and coffee prove to be a conundrum).

Guests can rest easy, knowing the hotel’s environment plan covers energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, CO2 reduction and waste minimisation.

Even the award-winning hotel’s design and construction, completed in 2008, had stringent environmental targets.

9. Or book sustainable regional accommodation

Enjoy all South Australia has to offer staying in luxury ecotourism accommodation.

For example, the virtually carbon neutral Rawnsley Park Villas in the Flinders Ranges affords panoramic views to Wilpena Pound.

But for the environmentally conscious, the property is a treat in itself: straw bale and recycled timber villas run with solar power and sophisticated water-waste treatment systems. Sublimely sensitive to place, they’re also luxurious, with retractable ceilings above the beds for star gazing.

Likewise, you can explore the beaches and villages of the fabulous Fleurieu Peninsula and the famous wineries of nearby McLaren Vale from a spectacular architecturally designed base that set a benchmark for sustainable accommodation.

The Ridgetop Retreats are contemporary and sleek, showcasing the magnificent Deep Creek location, combining sustainability with sumptuous comfort.

For the Eyre Peninsula, stay at Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges near Port Lincoln, on a 200ha historic property, which has two clean-lined villas situated in a bird-lover’s idyll.

The owners have cultivated vegetation that has encouraged birdlife, including rare species, while allowing views of wide open spaces from huge windows.

Book these great properties through their websites, or head to Green Getaways Australia for a great selection of eco-accommodation across the state.


10. Explore an island of sustainability

Explore Kangaroo Island with a company that ensures your enjoyment is maximised and impact on environment minimalised.

Kangaroo Island, 112km south-west of Adelaide has a remarkable abundance of often organically grown produce, extraordinary wildlife, undulating bush and country vistas and beaches of extraordinary beauty.

Exceptional Kangaroo Island is a tour company operating within all that, with Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation.

Run for nearly two decades by a local couple, the award-winning operation ensures animal and plant life is respected and preserved, resources are used wisely and conservation is front of mind.

The company promises their “guides take pride in sharing their knowledge and seek to educate and entertain”.

“We have a conversation, not a commentary covering the rich history, unique ecology and contemporary Island lifestyle. Enjoy the best of local produce with elegant picnics at superb locations and observe a wide variety of wildlife in its natural habitat.”

With shared and private tours on offer across a number of rich itineraries, Exceptional Kangaroo Island gives you the local secrets of Kangaroo Island unfurled in a most personal way.

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