Community connection key for Habitat

Friday 7 January 2011

Community connection key for Habitat


by Mat Churchill

Garry Sullivan has been introducing some of Australia's most beautiful, pristine and remote locations to enthusiastic eco-tourists for the past 20 years.

From Kings Canyon in Central Australia, El Questro in the Kimberley in Western Australia and most recently Corinna Wilderness Experience on Tasmania's wild west coast, Mr Sullivan has now accepted the position as general manager at one of Far North Queensland's most iconic tourist attractions - The WIldlife Habitat in Port Douglas.

"We've got a fantastic team here of 47 staff. That was one of the things that made me take on the role, because I'd done a couple of trips through the place before taking the job and the team were fantastic," he said.

"I'm loving it, it's such a nice change, it's beautiful. It such a fantastic property," he said.

The Wildlife Habitat won Recommended Tourist Attraction and Best Breakfast in 2010's inaugural Port Douglas Magazine Awards, as voted by visitors, and Mr Sullivan is keen to reconnect with locals who want to reconnect with nature.

"One of the big things we want to do is promote a conservation approach through education and interpretation with the animals," Mr Sullivan said.

One of the ways Wildlife Habitat are reconnecting is through additional keeper presentations at 8.30am and 12.30pm daily where animals such as a lorikeet, kangaroo, crocodile, koala, or snake will be join visitors for breakfast and lunch in the Wildlife Cafe.

"The whole way we're going to move forward and become a better tourist destination is through that interpretation," Mr Sullivan said.

Volunteer programs will also be a greater focus in 2011. Aside from the international volunteer program available to overseas visitors who spend between four and six weeks working at the property, there'll be opportunities for locals as well.

"We're looking at having a kids club this year and a locals volunteer program. In March or April we're looking at having a locals free of charge weekend where people can come in and see all of the new projects.

"The biggest thing we do is make people aware of nature in the wild. That's what it's all about. People practice conservation because of the experience they've had with the wildlife at the property."

Mr Sullivan pointed to habitat destruction as the biggest threat to wildlife. "That's the crux of it all. If the animals have got habitat they'll survive, if they haven't they won't."

So if you're keen to reconnect with nature and witness first hand the conservation efforts of locals, The Wildlife Habitat is a good place to start for locals as well as visitors.