RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROADby LEXI CONNORS
Visitors flock to the Great Ocean Road for many reasons; breathtaking views, world heritage sites, gourmet food, adventure and more.
Here are 10 ways you can be a responsible traveller while exploring the Great Ocean Road:
1. Take care of our unique wildlife & respect the boundaries
The Great Ocean Road is an essential destination to discover our native Australian fauna. The thing is, in our vast and open land, they prefer peace and quiet. The animals thrive when they’re left to their own devices, instincts and natural environment. Use your camera zoom, keep your distance and avoid noise pollution and please help us keep our wildlife wild by not feeding them. There are also designated boundaries and barriers at designated spots in the region to help keep you safe - and no selfie is worth the safety of your life, the lives of others and the protection of the natural environment.
2. Eat local
Along the Great Ocean Road, local businesses are proud to serve up the freshest, most delicious food made from local produce. They don’t call it the gourmet trail for nothing! Sample the award-winning cheese and single malt whiskey, experience the gourmet providores, vineyards and breweries. To taste the freshest of fresh produce, pick your own strawberries at Berry World or try some sustainably caught lobster at Port Campbell. When you support local cafes and restaurants, you’re not just supporting the staff, but also the community, the growers and the farmers too. Find your next meal here.
3. Reduce your footprint and say no to plastics
We’ve all heard the mantra leave no trace, but why not go one step further and leave the place better than when you found it? You can even get amongst the ‘Take 3 for the Sea’ initiative like the locals and do your bit by picking up 3 bits of rubbish you find along the way and place it in the bin. Better yet, bring your own plastic substitutes (water bottle and coffee cup) to naturally reducing your plastic footprint overall. And if you’re stopping for a picnic, please check thoroughly for small bits of rubbish before you leave, like bread tags and rubber bands that can harm our sealife.
4. Immerse yourself in the indigenous culture and discover the rich history of our first nations people
In 2019 Budj Bim was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the outstanding universal values of cultural traditions, knowledge and practice of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people. With the ingenuity of the Gunditjmara people, the former volcanic plain was used to construct channels, dams and manage water flows to systematically trap, store and harvest kooyang (short-finned eel). With over 32,000 years of history, Budj Bim is one of the most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems in the world. The park rangers have been mentored by Gunditjmara Elders to provide visitors with traditional and cultural knowledge. For an immersive experience, get in touch with Budj Bim Tours directly.
5. Give back by contributing to community initiatives or joining a conservation project
Care to lend a helping hand amongst the Great Ocean Road region? There are plenty of community activities and projects available for visitors. Whether it be tree planting, koala surveying or helping the prevention of weed spread, you can find more information about the programs available via Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and the Conservation Ecology Centre in Cape Otway and also the Great Ocean Road Coast & Parks Authority.
6. Slow down by staying longer and leaving the car behind
Sure, the Great Ocean Road is an iconic road trip, but to really engage with the land, the scenery and the community, the best way to experience it is by foot or pedal. The region has many self-guided and guided walks available to visitors as well as clean cycle paths and mountain biking trails. By taking the road less travelled and slowing down, a unique cultural experience awaits. Slow travellers who are keen to stay for a while are not just encouraged, they’re even rewarded. Bed and Breakfasts, guest houses and hotels offer free accommodation to those who stay additional nights. To find the latest deals, click here.
7. Support local artists
It would be remiss to say the scenery is the most important feature of the region when there is a plethora of talented artists that live among it. From glass designing, to published authors, sketchers, painters and musicians; safe to say, the Great Ocean Road is brimming with talent that will inspire the artist within. To find out more about the local artists and authors, click here.
8. Choose eco-certified operators
While there is a concerted effort along the Great Ocean Road to be sustainable and responsible, there are several eco-certified businesses that go the extra mile and cater to all comfort and budget levels. From the Apollo bay YHA to the Great Ocean Eco Lodge and even Otway Eco Tours. While you’re visiting, why not support local businesses who are committed to using travel as a force for good.
9. Visit off peak
Sometimes visiting during peak periods means spend more time in the car than absolutely necessary. So why not visit off peak? To find those uninterrupted views we would recommend visiting over winter or autumn and you may find you have that iconic view all to yourself! The waterfalls in the Otways are particularly spectacular in winter, as is the big winter swell, where you can stop to watch the locals at spots like Bells Beach.
10. Offset your trip
We understand you might need to drive or fly to get to the Great Ocean Road, so why not go the extra mile and offset your trip for the ultimate carbon neutral holiday.