10 Sustainable Travel Destinations That Show What It Means to Host with Heart
As more travellers return to the road and sky after the pandemic, the importance of prioritising sustainable travel cannot be overstated. But more than a simple destination, sustainable tourism is about creating a framework for tourists and the travel industry at large to support a systemic shift that aims to protect the environment, address climate change and expand the economic development of communities directly impacted by over-tourism.
Sustainable travel calls for conscious choices across every aspect of your trip but it doesn’t mean you need to totally overhaul your plans. There are many examples of holiday properties in Australia and New Zealand that are going the extra mile for the planet and its people.
Helping us in the hunt, Jen Clark from Hosting with Heart gave us her picks of the best sustainable accommodation options around Australia and New Zealand – properties that aren’t just ticking a few green boxes, but owners that see hosting as a vehicle to address social and environmental issues.
Scandi at Maleny
Scandi at Maleny – a luxury, adults-only retreat in the Sunshine Coast hinterland – recently achieved carbon-neutral status and donates 50 meals to OzHarvest from the proceeds of every booking. The owners have instituted a formal commitment to hosting with purpose with a detailed outline of the myriad ways in which they practise inclusivity and responsibility proudly published on the property’s website. This purposeful stay is leading the way in inspiring a new, refreshingly conscientious way of travel.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
From head to foot, Ecopia Retreat was created with the environment in mind. The land was not cleared, nor was any native vegetation disturbed in the process of building the retreat’s two luxury eco villas, each accommodating up to two adults. The location of the villas was based on how they could be ‘sunk’ into the natural environment, best harvest solar energy and maximise views. The solar-passive architectural design was created by rammed-earth walls, double-glazed windows and the integration of simple eco principles. Ecopia is completely off-grid – using solar power and pure rainwater. The owners have carefully curated an experience with minimal footprint, yet in luxury. Quite the feat.
Crackenback, New South Wales
Mill Cabin, located in New South Wales’ beautiful Snowy Mountains, is about slowing down and connecting to what’s in the moment – a cabin free from meaningless distractions and surrounded by undisturbed nature. Operating completely off-grid with solar power, a rainwater tank and eco-conscious fittings and supplies, this storybook-perfect escape, for up to two adults, really is what the owners have coined “‘the perfect panacea for urban fatigue”.
The Old Cottage
Tomerong, New South Wales
A selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and farm-fresh eggs can often be found awaiting incoming guests in this quaint and inviting cottage, situated on a working hobby farm approximately 15 minutes from the popular Jervis Bay town of Huskisson. The cottage has been sympathetically renovated to honour the character and age of the home, as well as provide modern conveniences. Much of the furniture has been upcycled and repurposed in alignment with the owners’ belief in giving old things new life, lending itself to a warm, inviting and nourishing environment in which to take a break.
Mt Adrah, New South Wales
Set on a small-scale regenerative farm protecting critically endangered habitats, Kestrel Nest is an off-grid and off-line getaway in the Snowy Valleys. With features such as solar panels, double-glazing, considered orientation, construction using recycled materials, antique furniture and eco-friendly amenities, this is a property that is in equal proportions about style and substance. Most recently, Highfield Farm and Woodland, on which Kestrel Nest is situated, achieved formal certification by Ecotourism Australia.
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Tenterfield, New South Wales
Before establishing the property, the owners of Mirumiru Bubbletent, a unique, off-grid glamping retreat located in Australia’s high country, imagined a more sustainable future with the aim to leave their farm in better shape than it was found. Features like all-weather roads, a carefully planned water collection, diversion and filtering system, eco-friendly cleaning products and amenities, the addition of hundreds of new native plants and trees, and the elimination of single-use plastics have made this getaway experience one of the country’s most sustainable.
Huskisson, New South Wales
When last measured in 2018, there were over 2.65 million carers in Australia, representing a staggering 10.8% of the country’s population. Noticing, however, that there was a distinct lack of genuine respite opportunities for carers, the owners of the stunning Bimbala Cottage, a meticulously renovated 100-year-old retreat in the heart of Huskisson, decided to institute a ‘Sponsor a Carer’ program, enabling nominated carers to take a break from their day-to-day caring duties at the property at a reduced rate – a shining example of social responsibility taken seriously.
St Helens, Tasmania
At the end of a bush track between St Helens and Binalong Bay sits Swansong, a one-bedroom, two-pavilion, off-grid environmental dwelling orientated to the east to take in the incredible 180-degree views. The property owners have geared their sharing of Swansong to be purposely low-key and low-impact. Stays are limited to 100 nights per year with a three-night minimum. Upon completing the build, they carefully selected and relocated seedlings from other areas of the property along with around 400 tube stock from an indigenous nursery to regenerate the bush which was impacted most by the activities of the building.
Gundaroo, New South Wales
Nguurruu, the Walgalu word for ‘camp’, is a luxury two-bedroom, self-contained barn in the middle of a working cattle farm. Made from rammed earth quarried on site, the property’s owners hold a deep responsibility to look after the land and to eventually leave it in much better condition than when it was found. Their core mission is to regenerate the land, restoring landscape function and biodiversity through the use of biodynamic farming principles and rotational grazing of livestock. They believe that healthy food derives from healthy landscapes and want to make a wider contribution to healing the planet by incorporating the latest thinking together with ancient wisdom.
Fallow Ridge Retreat
Waikouaiti, New Zealand
Fallow Ridge Retreat is the culmination of over four years of planning and building. Historically the rocky outcrop that Fallow Ridge Retreat sits upon was used as a vantage point for shepherds when mustering sheep. The owners wanted to create a sense of luxury within nature and combine high-end finishes to enrich the guest experience. As a result, they have achieved their mission of cultivating good design, nurturing nature, and promoting rest and relaxation. Fallow Ridge truly is a place where guests can breathe deeply, reconnect and enjoy a slower pace.