TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

BILPIN AND RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL

So earlier this week my man and I spent three magical days in a treehouse in the Wollemi Wilderness area of Bilpin. We were there to celebrate the fact that somehow, miraculously, we’ve been happily married for five years.

From the moment we arrived we were blown away (quite literally; we arrived in the middle of that insane storm) by the wild-haired owner Lionel’s dedication to creating a wilderness getaway that’s both incredibly beautiful, and completely sustainable.

Despite the fact that Lionel owns 600 acres of the Wollemi National Park, he has only six cabins dotted throughout his massive property, and has made sure that each of them have as little impact on the environment as possible.

In our treehouse, set 35-feet above the ground and created with local felled timber and recycled materials like corrugated iron and sandstone, there were solar-powered lights, a composting worm toilet, a fire for heating, and water that was recycled onto the vegetation below.

Our time there was blissful. Think hours spent in the hot tub with the floor-to-ceiling windows open all around us as the storm raged and we sipped our champagne. A bush walk into the valley, through dense rainforest and down to the creek, passing the area where convicts used to quarry sandstone. A delectable farm-to-table feast by the fire at Sean Moran’s impeccably styled Tomah Gardens Restaurant inside the nearby Blue Mountains botanic gardens. A night in the cosy Love Teepee, where we went retro and played Pick-Up Sticks (remember them?), listened to Phil Collins, and watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And on our last night, a guided walk under a star-filled sky by the lovely and passionate Jochen from Blue Mountains Glow Worm Tours, to see glow-worms lighting up an entire crevasse down by the river.

We were sad to leave, but did so knowing we’d be back very soon, and with our heads filled with ideas for how we could continue supporting sustainable tourism outfits like Lionel’s.

 

 

In perfect synergy, I was then invited just last night to a Responsible Travel Symposium put on by World Expeditions, where passionate speakers from not-for-profits talked about how we can travel more sustainably.

World Animal Protection shone light on all the cruelty that happens in wildlife tourism – including elephant rides, aquariums, bull fighting and buying wild animal souvenirs – that we need to take a stand against. Especially considering that wildlife drives about one quarter of tourism.

There was a speaker from International Peace Through Tourism, who reminded us that every traveller can potentially be an advocate for peace, by promoting international understanding, protecting the environments we visit, and helping to reduce poverty by putting our tourism dollars in the right places.

I was especially inspired by Lisa Vitaris from 10 Pieces, who gets travellers to pledge to pick up just ten pieces of litter a day on their trips, so that you’re taking out more than you brought in. A beautiful reminder of the collective power of individuals, one that’s inspired me to take a little trash bag along with me when I head to Malaysia on Monday. Which I’d better start packing for now, actually…

Do you guys have any hidden sustainable getaways that you’d like to share? Do you try to get involved in any sustainable travel practices while you’re away? I’d love to hear about them if you’re up for sharing below.

Oh, and here are some pics of our Bilpin adventure. Enjoy lovers.


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