Falling, flying, sliding, surfing… it’s fair to say that during your travels in Australia, you’ll certainly experience all this diverse country has to offer. And after a year of living dangerously a little liver damage may be the only injury you incur.

But Australia will feel the effects of your adventures long after you’ve settled back home. Planes, trains and automobiles are slowly choking Mother Earth, and now this chemically saturated, overheated and hazy planet we are forever attempting to explore has simply had enough. 

Part of the problem
For anyone who has been marooned on say, Fraser Island for the last year and has failed to realise the planet is in a state of emergency, global warming is at an all-time high due to excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. And every time we fly or drive, we add to these emissions. In fact, two people on a return flight between Europe and Australia will contribute to as much climate change as an average household’s gas and electricity consumption over a whole year. 

Part of the solution
What can you do about it? Well, you can start by enjoying this diverse country’s eco- adventures and undo any wrongs (no, you can’t wake up next to someone else) along the way by offsetting your emission and still have the time of your life travelling. Just read on, and you’ll feel a lot better about your time here and your contribution towards a greener environment. 

Although Australia has the highest per capita level of CO2 emissions in the developed world,the tourism industry is a world leader in ecotourism. Tour operators are monitored by Ecotourism Australia, along with hostels and travel agents, making sure they offer “ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosterenvironmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation”. If they do , they get rewarded with an ECO Certificate, and for almost all the destinations in Australia, there are eco-friendly alternatives. Here’s a selection of the many destinations and experiences with theECO stamp of approval.

Who: Cairns Dive Centre.

Everyone wants a piece of the Great Barrier Reef, but unfortunately all this attention has led to pollution and climate changes now threatening the world’s largest coral reef system. Cairns Dive Centre (CDC) is one of the world’s largest certifying agencies, and offers day cruises and trips for snorkellers and divers in an ecofriendly way around the Great Barrier Reef. CDC also offers a range of diving courses; from learn to dive to dive control specialist courses. 
How much: The live aboard trips start at $220, the diving courses start at $370, and thedaytrips start at $75. 
Contacts: For more information call (07) 4051 0294, 1800 642 591 or visit 

Who: Misty Mountains 
4WD Tours.

Explore the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains with the guided Misty Mountains 4WD Tours. Here you’ll learn about the conservation of the environment and local communities and enjoythe views of the Blue Mountain valleys, caves and ancient rock formations and cool ferny gullies. There are plenty of adventure tours to choose from, and they all offer opportunities to see native wildlife and the area’s unique rock formations, such as the Three Sisters, the Lost City, and the Jenolan Caves. 
How much: The guided full-day tours start at $220 (or $295 Sydney pick-up), tag-a-long tours start at $150, and the short tours start at $55. 
Contacts: Ph: (02) 4757 2278 or visit www.mistymtns4wdtours.com.au

Who: Go Wild Adventure Tours.

Jump into a Canadian two-person canoe, and start ‘eco-noeing’ (sorry) down the beautiful Ord River, cutting through the magnificent Carr-Boyd. The scenery depends on the tour you choose, but they are all equally magnificent. After feeling all relaxed, move on to faster pace rock climbing and abseiling; extreme sports in beautiful surrounds. 
How much: Abseiling and caving tours start at $120. The ‘eco-noeing’ tours start at $150. 
Contacts: Ph: 1300 66 33 69 or visit www.gowild.com.au

Who: Wayoutback Desert Safaris.

The highlights of the Wayoutback tours include Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Palm Valley and West MacDonnell Ranges. In small groups, you get to experience the desert, the solitude of outback nights, campfire cooking, sleeping under the stars, and you’ll have local guides and Aboriginal hosts to tell you all about their amazing backyard. 
How much: Safaris start at $310 ($280 for YHA/VIP/Students) plus a $75 local payment fee (includes Precinct, Park and Oak Valley Aboriginal tour guide fees, food and fuel levy). 
Contacts: Ph: 1300 551 510, (08) 8952 4324 or visit www.wayoutback.com.au.

Who: Explore the Outback Camel Safaris. Yes, there are camels in Australia, and what cooler way to check out the historic Oodnadatta Track and Lake Eyre region than from a camel’s back? Ride through the ancient landscape that was once the bed of a vast inland sea. Todaythe region is famous for its sheer immensity, distant horizons and unspoiled wildlife like nowhere else in the world. 
How much: A four-day trek start at $1128.
Contacts: Ph: (08) 8672 3968 or visit www.austcamel.com.au/explore.htm

Who: Australian TASafari 4WD Camping Adventures. TASafari offer active camping tours in theremote areas of Tasmania. Hang out with the local wildlife such as the Tasmanian Devil, enjoy rugged mountain landscapes, rainforests, open plains and unspoiled beaches at your own pace. How much time you want to spend exploring the Tassie backyard determines which tour you’ll hop on. Each tour is all-inclusive (dinners are prepared on an open campfire as in any real camping adventure); all you have to bring is your walking gear and your sleeping bag. These tours include bushwalks to Cape Raoul, Mount Amos, the Blue Tier, the Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain, The Tarkine Wilderness, Hobart and Launceston. 
How much: Tours start at $470. 
Contacts: Ph: 1300 882 415 www.tasafari.com.au

Who: Philip Island Nature Park.

Get up close and personal with cuddly koalas, cute seals and happy feet penguins. The park is only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, and it’s a great way to spend a day away from thecity. Cuddle the animals, watch and learn, hike or ride to Oswin Roberts Woodland or Rhyll Inlet, and enjoy the fact that every dollar spent at the Philip Island Nature Parks contributes to conservation and research. 
How much: There is no entry fee to The Nobbies Centre, but to catch the koalas (actually you just get to cuddle them) it costs $9.20, and for the Penguin Parade you have to come up with $17.40. If you’ve got any money left, you can adopt a penguin! You don’t really get to keep it, but the adoption fee (from $25) goes to the survival and conservation of Philip Island’s animals and plants and for a sustainable future. 
Contacts: Ph: (03) 5951 2800 or visit www.penguins.org.au.

Besides visiting eco-friendly destinations, here are three simple steps to help you really make a difference:

1. Offset your emissions
Carbon offsetting is a way of compensating for the emissions produced with an equivalent carbon dioxide saving. Firstly, calculate your emissions (your carbon footprint). Check out www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator or www.elementree.com.au/calculator and follow theprompts.

Once you’ve figured out how big your carbon footprint is, you can buy carbon offset credits from emission reduction projects. There are plenty of good websites to do this (such as www.carbonfootprint.com,www.elementree.com.au, www.carbonneutral.com.au, StaTravel.com.au/carbon_credit, www.mycarbondebt.com, www.noco2.com.au). It’s easy, cheap, and it doesn’t really matter where you buy your offset credits as CO2 emissions are distributed across the world. 

2. Plant a tree
Australia is one of the top 10 land-clearing countries, easily overtaking the deforestation rates of Bolivia and the Congo. Trees clean the atmosphere by absorbing huge amounts of the CO2 emissions we create. So the most natural thing to do is to plant a tree! Most carbon-offset projects are tree-planting projects. On average, six trees planted in Australia will absorb one tonne of CO2. In addition to planting trees, you can buy a little piece of Queensland. Check out www.greenglobe.com for more information. You’ll receive a certificate showing you are theowner of the land, and your ownership will initiate restoration of the sub-tropical forest in Queensland.

3. Be a turn-off
Make sure you turn off the lights when you leave a room, and hanging your clothes up on theline instead of using a dryer really helps too. You should also eat less meat (sheep and cattle emit methane which has 20 times the global warming effect of CO2), recycle whatever can be recycled, think organic and try to use public transport whenever possible. 

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