Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours

Echidna Walkabout is a Social Enterprise with a mission to preserve Australian wildlife IN THE WILD. All the animals we see are wild, living in their natural habitat. All our tours contribute to preserving their environment, through habitat creation, ghost net removal and research.

Since 1993 Echidna Walkabout has provided exceptional wildlife experiences in the biodiversity hotspots of Australia. Most of our tours depart Melbourne and travel to carefully chosen wildlife locations in south eastern Australia. We also offer select tours that can depart Sydney or Adelaide; and one in the Northern Territory that departs from Darwin.

We aim to help you see the natural behaviour of our wild animals by approaching slowly and quietly without disturbing them. We focus on mammals as much as birds, but we love all wildlife. We believe that every creature has a story to tell.

We adhere to a wildlife no-touch policy on our tours. We choose not to visit attractions that display wildlife in captivity. The wildlife we visit is wild, living in their natural environment. We believe that by valuing animals in the wild we most effectively conserve their wild habitat.

As a Social Enterprise, we are proud to invest more than 50% of our profit in our mission. Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours is a mission-driven enterprise established to protect & conserve Australia’s wildlife in the wild. We are working to achieve this in 3 ways:
1. High quality, educational, easily bookable wildlife tours for international guests.
2. Koala Conservation Days for Locals once a month.
3. Citizen science research on wild koalas conducted on, and funded by the tours.

Echidna Walkabout respects our Indigenous Cultures, employs indigenous Guides and experiences as often as possible, and we are grateful to the Wathaurong, Gunnai/Kurnai and Paarkantji communities for their support and guidance over many years.

All of us here at Echidna Walkabout are members of the local community – we all live locally. In Australia, many communities already have a high standard of living, so we concentrate on improving well-being of those that usually suffer most in workplaces – indigenous people, women, LGBT, older people. Our current team is made up of 9 women and 6 men, 1 indigenous person, 1 LGBT person, 4 people over 60 years of age.

We are strongly non-prejudicial in our workplace and on our tours. We do not discriminate based on sex, race, sexual preference, religion or disability (where possible). This company policy is a condition of employment, and is accepted by all who work for us.

We encourage respect for, and education about, Australian Indigenous Culture. On every one of our annual training days a local Aboriginal Person is employed to teach protocol and respectful modes of interpretation. Our team is consulted about changes & improvements to the tours & business structure.

We take our contribution to the economic prosperity of the local area very seriously. All the services, goods and food we use on tours is sourced locally, and from locally-owned small businesses wherever possible. The only expenses paid to non-local agencies are commission to travel agents, government fees and advertising/marketing costs.

For example, on our day tour: Food – sandwiches by owner-operated bakery in Port Melbourne; fruit from South Melbourne market stall; tea from Nerada, Australia; cakes (bought in bulk) from independant Australian manufacturers. Fuel – from local (non-chain) fuel station. Guide uniforms – from South Melbourne market stall. Printed matter/brochures – from owner-operated printer in suburban Melbourne.

Four of our staff live in small towns close to the National Park where they work. Two of our staff are single mothers of young children, and we have made their workplace flexible so that they can work from home, and work hours that suit them.

All guests on our day & 3 day tours contribute to our ‘Make a Home for Koala Clancy habitat creation’ project by removing weeds from the natural bushland where the koalas live. Around 30,000 weeds are removed every year by the tours alone. In two years of this project koala sightings have increased to 370%.

We also run Koala Conservation Days for Locals once a month. These days aim to educate members of the local community (15 to 30 people per day) and remove large numbers of weeds for our Make a Home for Koala Clancy habitat creation project (around 8,000 weeds are removed each Koala Conservation day).

Below is a further list of our commitment to the reducing our impact on the environment:

  • We minimize water use by washing our vehicles with a high tech cleaning cloth & just one bucket of water.
  • We use only 100% recycled office paper, kitchen towel, toilet paper.
  • Food is stored in paper, glass or metal re-usable containers (we are currently phasing out our existing plastic by replacing it with eco alternatives). Food is served on metal or melamine plates or cups.
  • Our brochures and business cards are produced on 100% recycled stock.
  • We recycle all paper, glass and suitable plastics & aluminium through the local government recycling system.
  • Our office and home use low-voltage light globes; all lighting, heating, computers and office equipment are turned off overnight; we do not use air-conditioning in our office or home.
  • linen, tablecloths and our own clothes are dried on a washing line outside. (Do not to have a clothes dryer.)
  • We compost all food scraps and natural products.
  • Water is conserved in our office – see ‘Water Conservation’ tab on our website.
  • the wildlife habitat buildings are fully ‘6 star rated’ energy-efficient design incorporating passive solar collection, double-glazed windows, full insulation to ceilings, walls and under floors and use plantation and sustainably–harvested non-rainforest timbers throughout.

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About the author

Kai Ulrik

Hi - I joined tourism concern as a volunteer in early 2014 and have been assisting with research and membership. I have a background in environmental management and business administration; with a Master's degree in Environmental management and policy. I am an avid traveller with key interests in community based tourism & highlighting the impacts of All-inclusive holidays.

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