The Best Australian Virtual Eco-Tours
Words by Melanie Grevis-James
Right now, most travel, especially international destinations, is off the table. We’re spending more time close to home, and less time out exploring the world. And yes, it is very disappointing for those of us who love travel and adventure. But, at the same time, perhaps this is exactly what we need. A chance to slow down and spend some time in our own backyards.
And just because we can’t get out in the world, doesn’t mean we can’t still explore widely. We’re lucky to live in a technologically-advanced time. In fact, according to Google Keyword Planner data, searches for the term ‘virtual tour’ increased from 1,300 in February 2020 to almost 10,000 in March 2020 as a direct response to global lockdowns.
This technology has brought us some fantastic Australian virtual eco-tours. From David Attenborough’s melodious descriptions of the Great Barrier Reef, to traditional storytelling at Uluru, there’s something for every sustainable travel buff.
We wouldn’t suggest you limit yourself – unlike real life travel, virtual tours cost nothing, and you can go in your PJs. So, grab a comfy spot on the couch and take some time to explore our five favourite Australian virtual eco-tours.
The Best Australian Virtual Eco-Tours
1. Lady Elliot Island Virtual Island Talks
Lady Elliot Island’s virtual island talks cover the things that Lady Elliot Island does best – reef walks, snorkelling and bird watching, as well as nursery tours and tours about island history.
They’re a wonderful source of education on sustainability issues like coral bleaching, climate change and the future of the Great Barrier Reef. The tour leaders are interesting and knowledgeable, and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a giant manta ray.
2. David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef: An Interactive Journey
With an introduction and voice over by David Attenborough, don’t miss your chance to explore Australia’s most famous natural wonder. Begin with the interactive map and learn about five key areas of the reef from all from your own home, from ‘The Perfect Reef’ to ‘Get Involved: Lady Elliot Island’. David will show you why now is the perfect time to get involved with helping to protect the reef.
3. Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
While watching a video of Uluru will never have quite the same impact as visiting this sacred space in person, the wonderful stories and cultural knowledge shared by traditional owners gives immense depth and spirituality to this virtual tour. You can turn the screen 360-degrees and choose to listen to different stories, songs and sounds, and then decide which direction to take along the path next.
4. Phillip Island Penguin Parade
Phillip Island is home to one of the largest Little Penguin colonies in the world where you can experience the magic of watching Little Penguins waddle home from the ocean to their burrows. At sunset, every night (AEST) the world’s largest colony of Little Penguins waddle up Phillip Island’s floodlit beaches to their homes. Since the island is not able to welcome visitors to enjoy this natural phenomenon in person at the moment, they have decided to bring the penguins into homes across the world instead via live stream.
5. Melbourne Museum Virtual Tour
The Melbourne Museum has suffered longer closures than other places in Australia, but, as they say, ‘Museum at Home. Always Open.’ And their virtual tours are available whenever you like, from wherever you are, and certainly do not disappoint. The First Peoples virtual tour tells the story of Aboriginal Victoria from creation until today. The Dinosaur Walk exhibition teaches you about 17 prehistoric animals whose skeletons are on display. And Wild: Amazing animals in changing world features over 750 animals worldwide and examines how they are affected by climate change and human activity.
6. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary doesn’t offer a virtual tour in the traditional sense. But they do have 18 animal webcams throughout the sanctuary that let you view native Australian animals in a natural habitat. From koalas, to dingos, to platypuses, you can watch the antics of some of Australia’s most iconic creatures. They also give you great introductions to each webcam and the animals you’ll be viewing, so you’ll be able to tell if you’re watching Barak or Aroona, the platypuses.
7. Virtual Hiking
Virtual hiking gives you the opportunity to enjoy the trail from the comfort of your home or play them while you are on the treadmill to keep fit. There are so many virtual hikes to join around Australia. We love this one around Western Australia’s Whistlepipe Gully in Mundy Regional Park! Whistlepipe Gully is a leisurely 3.5km trail that takes you along the gully’s edge past cascades and small waterfalls. The scenery on this hike is very pretty with the banks of the gully lined with lush green foliage, paper-bark trees and a variety of wildflowers in Spring.
Virtual Tours, Sustainable Travel
Taking a virtual tour might feel like less of an adventure than visiting a place in real life.
But virtual tours are also the most sustainable and the most climate change friendly. Maybe it’s not perfectly ideal, but we can embrace the good things about staying at home. And part of that is how wonderfully eco-friendly it is.
Enjoy your tours virtually!
Melanie is the editor and publisher of Our Planet Travel. She has travelled extensively throughout Australia since a young child – exploring and camping in many remote places. Her love of nature, photography and travelling continues to this day. She feels most at home in the desert and the wild open spaces of Outback Australia. Although she won’t say no to an eco 5-star hotel every now and then, too!
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