20 January 2021
A DEEPER CONNECTIONby AMELIA/MILLIE HANDSCOMBE
Why do you love where you live – what inspires you about this place?
It’s a beautiful wild place, so exposed to the elements. Surrounded by National Park and spectacular cliffs. What’s not to love?
I grew up in a small town in the Grampians called Pomonal. There is always something special about small towns and this one is no different. The way a town can rally together when the call arises is inspiring. Locals support each other through personal tragedy, community hardships or natural disasters. We are also connected through a deep love and pride for the health and wellbeing of the town, surrounding spectacular park and beautiful wild ocean.
There are some amazing inspirational people about the place, which inspires me in many ways – with their commitment to protecting the environment, community spirit, sustainable living practices and all the unique passion projects.
What is the one thing visitors should know about the region before they arrive?
That the local community is passionate about where they live, and the local Parks Victoria and Visitor Information staff are passionate about protecting our natural habitats and getting people invested in nature. Passion is infectious so get infected! (With a good infection!).
What does sustainability mean to you and how do you contribute to sustainable outcomes in our region and beyond?
The first thing people often think of when they hear sustainability is environmental sustainability. This is obviously a vitally important one, but sustainability applies to all things in life. It is about balance and about creating cycles of energy instead of linear lines. It’s about feeding things that feed other things, whether that applies to your own personal resources, the broad or local environment, or the local economy. Passion for sustainability in our direct and indirect interactions with our environment is so important, but if you burn out in one area you will likely burn out in other areas too. Of course, you should challenge yourself with your goals but keep the goals realistic. Use them as stepping stones!
I was a founder of the Waste Free Port Campbell group. The group got some great initiatives happening and (we hope) more people reflecting on their waste production. The group has had a bit of a break for a little while now, but we hope to revamp some time soon!
Our team of rangers have been incorporating sustainability into our work place. I started a sustainability initiative as part of our team meetings which has led to things like a work worm farm, recycle station and reduced plastic reliance in many aspects of managing our team and Parks. I have also been incorporating the effects of plastic pollution and environmental unsustainability into our Junior Ranger activities. I believe fostering enthusiasm and a protective mechanism in kids to love and protect nature is one of the best ways to protect and improve our environment in the future.
How can visitors help us to better “Treasure the land we love” and reduce the impacts of visitation? What is your vision of a truly sustainable destination and an empowered host community?
Be passionate about the areas you are visiting and learn all the interesting facts that you can. Realise that all actions have implications, even when it doesn’t seem like it would be a ‘big deal’. This area receives millions of visitors a year, with the Twelve Apostles receiving around two million visitors a year. Even if just 1% of the visitors do something negative like leaving just one piece of rubbish, that is 20,000 pieces of rubbish a year that could potentially blow away into bushes or wash into the ocean harming our wildlife.
My vision of a sustainable destination is one where people slow down and focus on quality instead of quantity in how they spend their holidays. Instead of trying to fit in 20 different sights/stops in one day, focus on a few and spend some quality time there. We hope when people do this, they will also become more connected to a place and less likely to do activities with negative impacts like littering or damaging vegetation.
Favourite local animal?
The Echidna. Watch out for them on the roads! Sweet and shy. They are also some of our native ecosystem engineers – loosening and breaking up soil nice and softly which reduces compaction and helps the soil take in water.
Favourite local plant?
Dusty Miller (Spyridium parvifolium). It’s a bit of an understated low lying shrub. It’s not very showy, but it beautifully decorates the landscape and enhances the more colourful flora.
What is one the one place or tip to enjoy the region you would like to share with a mindful visitor?
Soo many places! I love Princetown beach. Please note that there are no dogs allowed on this beach. There are vulnerable shorebirds on these beaches like the Hooded Plover that need protecting. Don’t forget to SLOW DOWN. Take your time. Take a moment to take in the moment. Enjoy just for yourself, off social media. Learn about the place you are visiting. Learn about the geography, plants and animals to help you connect more deeply.