Wildlife Wonders was established in order to protect and support nature.
Like all of the Conservation Ecology Centre’s ventures, Wildlife Wonders has been developed with sustainability and the environment at the front of mind. It exemplifies best-practice in environmental protection and sustainable resource use, not only mitigating and minimising impacts but also actively restoring nature, both on-site and farther afield.
Wildlife Wonders is Advanced Ecotourism accredited by Ecotourism Australia. We promote sustainable travel that benefits local communities, culture, and heritage and minimise impacts on the environment.
Our sustainability actions focus on protecting and improving the land’s biodiversity and inspiring our visitors and our community to join us in our mission to protect the Otways for future generations.
Read on for more about our on-site sustainability measures, how we protect nature across the Otways, and for tips on responsible travel.
Environmental sustainability at Wildlife Wonders
From initial site selection through the construction and onto operation, we have ensured our impact on the environment is minimal and, indeed, positive.
Our Visitor Centre creates its own power and water.
- The Visitor Centre has been built using passive solar design principles and is flooded with natural light.
- It is powered by a 35kW photovoltaic system, which means for most of the time we generate all the electricity we need on site – but when we can’t, we purchase green energy from local social enterprise Cooperative Power and their partner Energy Locals.
- The shop fittings, café furniture and stunning front counter are constructed from local blackwood by local craftsmen.
- All water used onsite is collected from the roof of the Visitor Centre into tanks capable of holding 660,000 litres of water.
Our wildlife sanctuary used to be a degraded farm
- No trees were removed to create the walking path at Wildlife Wonders.
- We planted more than 10,000 local-provenance trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns and lilies to create the Wildlife Wonders sanctuary.
- Dense thickets of blackberries and other invasive species were carefully removed.
- The site is now free of introduced predators (i.e. foxes and cats) thanks to the construction of a predator-proof perimeter fence.
- Management of the land at Wildlife Wonders is overseen by Natural Resource Management Specialist, Shayne Neal, and continually improved as it is informed by local applied research conducted by the Conservation Ecology Centre and project partners.
We consider nature in our supply-chain and partnerships
- 95% of our suppliers are Australian (with 50% located with 100km of Wildlife Wonders)
- Our Emu Café menu showcases local produce such as Apollo Bay Bakery bread, Shultz Organic Milk and locally grown vegetables and native foods, minimising stock on hand and wastage, while maximising quality.
- Transport of supplies is minimised through local sourcing wherever possible.
- We serve and promote ‘‘Spotted Ale’’, a beer locally brewed by Prickly Moses which invests 100% of profits to conservation of the Tiger Quoll in the Otways.
- Our ‘Wildside Coffee’ developed with local roaster Hello Coffee supports wildlife conservation in the Otways and in Brazil, where the coffee is grown.
- We minimize waste through bulk purchasing and recycling and have established a community recycling hub for soft plastics, which was previously not available in Apollo Bay.
Protecting nature across the Otways
All operating profits from Wildlife Wonders are invested in local nature conservation programs run by the Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC), restoring critical habitat, supporting species recovery programs, managing invasive species and building scientific knowledge. While these projects are focused on the local ecosystems in the Otways, their results will have application across Australia and beyond.
Current projects include:
- Koala habitat restoration on Cape Otway – over 100,000 trees have been planted on Cape Otway as a part of this program, the majority during the annual Big Otway Tree Plant. Volunteers at this event develop a deep connection with the program and many return to plant with us year after year.
- Monitoring and control of introduced feral pest species, such as pig and deer, across the Otways as a part of the Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative.
- Helping threatened species become more resilient to fire – in collaboration with land managers, the CEC is employing cutting-edge GPS tracking technology to monitor the survival and movements of Long-nosed Potoroos in relation to planned burn operations in the Otways.
- Modelling how fire can be applied for both fuel reduction and conservation – testing the effectiveness of several planned burn scenarios at minimizing the impact of wildfire in the Carlisle Heath, and how these scenarios will impact the native Long-nosed Potoroo population.
Visit the Conservation Ecology Centre’s website to find out more.
Encouraging nature connection and responsible travel
The positive impact of Wildlife Wonders is far greater than its operating footprint and extends well beyond our visitors’ departure.
Our visitor experience promotes respect for nature and educates our visitors on how to responsibly explore the natural world. We share skills and knowledge regarding biosecurity, safe behaviour around wildlife and the importance of often overlooked species such as invertebrates and fungi.
Wildlife Wonders actively engages visitors to become supporters of the Conservation Ecology Centre, providing opportunities to sign up to newsletters, become involved as volunteers on local conservation projects and/or become donors.
We are also committed to educating tourists on travelling green and are happy to point you in the direction of other great ecotourism experiences.
We encourage you to get out and explore the nature surrounding Wildlife Wonders – the beautiful waterfalls, walks and national parks. Here are some guidelines from Ecotourism Australia that can help ensure you leave only footprints. They also offer the following great information on responsible travel, calculating your travel footprint, and how to reduce your travel emissions.