Culture

Australia Just Won A Lonely Planet ‘Best In Travel’ Award For Our Bushfire Efforts

Let’s just say it, 2020 was a spectacularly shit one. For Australia in particular, we only just saw the back end of horrific bushfires before Covid hit.

I think it’s safe to assume most of us are keen to say “good riddance” to the year that was, but a silver lining is that sometimes the worst events can bring out the best in people — and just SOMETIMES those good efforts are recognised. Which is exactly what’s happened in Lonely Planet’s 2021 Best In Travel Awards.

While we’re used to these annual lists focusing on the top 10 places to travel, this time (for obvious reasons) the focus has pivoted to ideas that improve the entire concept of travel.

“Rather than recommending destinations to travel to, we decided to take stock of what matters most in travel,” explained Chris Zeiher from Lonely Planet Australia. “We believe that the three pillars of sustainability, community and diversity reflect shared values in travel right now”.

“Under these pillars we were then able to then recognise people, places and businesses making a positive contribution”.

Which is why Australia was given the ‘Community Restoration Award’, for the recovery efforts that came after one of our worst bushfire seasons in history. Lonely Planet specifically called out the work put in to rebuild affected communities, and conservation work to save our wildlife.

“The Lonely Planet judges were really taken by the co-ordinated local effort that’s brought together experts in agriculture, conservation, Indigenous land management, forestry, science and philanthropy with the shared aim of protecting the natural environment for the future,” said Zeiher.

Lonely Planet called out particular areas and business for their efforts, with Kangaroo Island in Victoria being named specifically. These efforts are on-going, and you can even get involved on your next holiday.

“A great example… is exceptional Kangaroo Island, with Kangaroo Island Land For Wildlife,” continued Zeiher. “They educate travellers about fire ecology and the bush recovery process”.

“Victorian operators like Echidna Walkabout Tours offer koala recovery experiences, and in Shoal Haven/Moreton National Park there’s Wild Food Adventures, which takes travellers deep into the fire zone to witness the regeneration process of the bushland”.

Of course, the easiest way to help affected communities recover, is booking a getaway to them. Places like Kangaroo Island, Adelaide Hills, Gippsland, the South Coast and the Blue Mountains are all recovering enough that you’ll have plenty of beauty to look at, but still need help.

With international travel looking to be largely off the table until late 2021, it’s the best time to satisfy your travel bug and give back to Australia all in one happy bundle.

(Lead Image: Provided / Tourism Australia)