Eco-Adventures All Over the World
Eco-Adventures All Over the World
Clean Breaks: 500 New Ways to See the World, from Rough Guides describes 500 eco-friendly adventures all over the world including homestays in Native American tipis, expeditions to watch the zebra migration in Botswana, sleeping in houseboats in India or riding with cowboys in Venezuela.
Richard Hammond says he and co-author Jeremy Smith chose “the kind of holidays that get under the skin of a destination while genuinely benefitting local communities.”
“It is often about focusing on the uniqueness of the destination, staying in family-run hotels, visiting local markets and festivals, and hiring local guides so that their tourism dollars benefit the destination.
“In addition, many of the experiences we feature are also ‘clean’ in another sense: far from the trappings of mass tourism, these holidays are about travelling in a way that has less of an impact on the environment without having to sacrifice comfort or thrills.
“Many of the properties in the book are as stylish and innovative as they are environmentally aware, from beautifully crafted treehouses in the South of France and luxury yurts in Andalusía to eco-chic hotels in Thailand.”
This selection describes eco-adventures in Sydney, Australia:
Australia’s best-known city may be home to two of the world’s most famous landmarks – the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge – but it has much to offer away from the crowds drawn to these icons, and with an ambitious city-wide sustainability plan aimed for 2030, a lot of the attractions are distinctly green.
Swim in a coastal pool
Along with world-famous beaches like Bondi, Sydney’s other coastal institutions are its pools. There are seventy of them lining the harbour and the suburban shores, ranging from glamorous see-and-be-seen lidos to Olympic size pools.
Often the pool itself is the attraction, such as Bronte, carved into the cliffs and so close to the Pacific that you can jump over the edge and into the ocean that laps at the pool’s side. Wylies, meanwhile, is covered in algae and filled with tiny fish so that it is somewhat like swimming in an aquarium.
And if you’re feeling brave, there’s Mahon – known as “the impossible pool” because of the intensity of the waves that crash over the side from the open ocean.
To dip your toe in a few of them, you can walk the cliffs from Bondi’s famous Icebergs pool to Bronte in about an hour and a half. Whichever pool you try along the way, it’s the best way to enjoy swimming at Sydney’s shores without any worry about the sharks.
Have some bonza tucker
With the perfect climate for farming, the Hunter Valley and other world-renowned wine areas a few hours away, and of course the vast Pacific Ocean to one side, Sydney has all the conditions for fantastic food, whatever your budget. There are nine branches of the whole-food chain Iku, which serves biodynamic, organic and vegetarian food, such as mushroom, leek and thyme pie or spicy vegetable, tofu and lime-leaf laksa.
For a more special occasion, try New South Wales’ only climate-neutral restaurant, Billy Kwong’s (T+61 (0) 293 323 300), where you can dine on organic dishes like seared calamari, arugula and Asian herb salad or Sichuan pepper beef with pickled cucumber and watercress.
Slow Food fans should saunter over to Peasants’ Feast (T+61 (0) 295 165 998) or Danks Street Depot (T+61 (0) 296 982 201), which both focus on providing the finest ingredients from nearby specialist farms and producers.
Need to know For those keen on cooking (or grazing) there are also regular gourmet food and farmers’ markets all across the city. Go to www.slowfoodsydney.com.au to find out when and where.
Many people think Sydney’s history began with the arrival of Captain Cook in Botany Bay in 1770. Take a boat cruise with Tribal Warrior (T+61 (0) 296 993 491) around the famous harbour, however, and while seeing the monuments from their best viewpoint, you’ll learn about the life of the area’s Aboriginal people, who were here for thirty thousand years before the arrival of the “whitefella.” You’ll also learn the original names for places – Botany Bay was once Kamay, and the land where the Opera House now stands was known as Jubgalee.
On board the ship, built in 1899 and the oldest working ship in Australia as well as the only Aboriginal-owned boat tour, the crew will explain about the fishing practices of a people better known for eking out a life in the dry Australian bush. The highlight is a stop on Clark Island, once a significant Aboriginal meeting place, where tribal elder Uncle Max and others will welcome you with a traditional corroboree dance. The sight of these millennia-old rituals against the backdrop of one of the world’s most modern skylines is one few forget.
Tribal Warrior runs Tues–Sat. To see the harbour on your own you can hire a kayak through Sydney Harbour Kayaks or an electric motorboat at ecoboats.com.au. For more on the wildlife and Aboriginal history of the harbour, go to www.livingharbour.net.
See the city by foot or bike
As the most populous city of one of the most outdoorsy and fitness-focused people in the world, Sydney is best seen on two feet – or two wheels. One of the most interesting routes is the 38km Green Ring that connects coastal trails, cycle paths and other green routes and includes some of the city’s highlights, including Darling Harbour, Cooks River, Botany Wetlands and Sydney Harbour at Cockle Bay. With several gentle hills around the harbour, you guarantee yourself a workout along with the iconic view.
Need to know The Green Ring can be found at Wsydneygreenring.blogspot.com. Info on walking the coastline is at www.walkingcoastalsydney.com.au. For info on hiring bikes, visit cyclehire.com.au.
Bushwalking in the Blue Mountains, Australia
If you’re visiting the Blue Mountains expecting them to be a) blue or b) mountains, then you may be disappointed. In fact they’re better described as a kind of Australian Grand Canyon: think chiseled sandstone cliffs tumbling down into thickly forested valleys (the “blue” part of the name comes from the occasional blueish tinge in the air caused by eucalyptus trees).
Covering 10,000 square kilometers of New South Wales, the whole region is a World Heritage Site and a hugely popular destination for Sydneysiders. In fact, given the amount of cosy hotels, gourmet restaurants and yoga retreats, it’s possible to lose sight of what attracted people here in the first place — pristine wilderness and plenty of fresh air.
To get a real feel for “The Blues” you need to get away from the viewpoints and clearly marked paths and head down into the creeks and gorges below. The best way to do this is on a guided bushwalk exploring historic trails such as the Jamison Valley Traverse. Apart from a good day’s hiking, this offers a chance to imagine what it was like for the colonial explorers who spent an astonishing twenty years hacking their way through the bush in search of grazing land to the west.
The first thing you’re struck by descending in to the valley is the smell — a thick perfume of tea-tree oil and eucalyptus — after which comes the buzz of cicadas and the cries of cockatoos. The trail shifts through a range of habitats from dry forest and spongy swamp to rocky mountain passes and is barely distinguishable at times.
It’s not hard to see why new species are continually discovered in the national park, including “living fossils” such as the Wollemi Pine, a Jurassic-era plant long thought extinct. At times the walk is hard going and you need to cling to ropes for safety, but the hard work is soon rewarded. Just as your knees are about to give way you emerge blinking in front of the cascading Wentworth Falls, named in honour of one of those hardy explorers.
Need to know The Jamison Valley Traverse is offered by River Deep Mountain High (T+61(0) 247 826 109) based in Katoomba, which is connected by regular trains from Sydney.
About the Authors:
Richard Hammond is a freelance travel journalist who first saw the benefits of genuine ecotourism while visiting the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues in 1993. Since then he has visited and reported on hundreds of clean breaks for travel magazines and newspapers, principally as The Guardian’s eco-travel correspondent and as the founder of greentraveller.co.uk, an online guide to low-impact travel worldwide. Richard is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and lives in London, a short bike ride from St. Pancras International train station.
Jeremy Smith is a freelance writer who contracted the travel bug as a child and still suffers from regular relapses. Formerly the editor of The Ecologist magazine, he is now co-editing greentraveller.co.uk with Richard. He also provides environmental consultancy to several organizations and sits on the advisory board of Garden Africa, a grassroots charity working to improve health and food security in southern Africa. An occasional DJ with eclectic tastes, he’s equally up for a quick dance at a festival or a slow-food picnic.
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