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Meet Peter Gash: Environmental Crusader and World Environment Day Champion

LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, AUSTRALIA –  In a world of tourism that strives to be bigger, bolder and more luxurious, there is one man who stands to make a difference – ecological crusader, world environment champion and co-owner of Lady Elliot Island, Peter Gash. In the lead up to World Environment Day on Sunday, June 5, Peter outlines what it took to protect and preserve his tiny piece of Great Barrier Reef paradise.

  • From pilot to preservationist, Peter has transformed a pile of guano into an eco resort that gifts guests with a love for the marine environment and a desire to protect it. 
  • Lady Elliot is the first island resort to ban disposable water bottles 
  • Solar Power stations have more than halved the reliance on diesel fuel

Since securing the lease on Lady Elliot Island and its 150-bed Eco Resort in 2005, Peter Gash has transformed this small Queensland island paradise on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef into a shining example of innovative ecological tourism practices at its best.

It is the first island in Australia to ban the sale of plastic water bottles, it is powered by a Hybrid Solar Power Station and it has no high rise buildings. Further, under Gash’s green thumb (and his green mindset), what was once an atoll mined bare for its premium guano “poo”, is now a pretty coral cay well on its return to looking how it did pre-European settlement. What took nature 3500 years to build – and just years to strip bare – is taking this man thousands of native plants to regenerate.

But running a tourist operation on a daily basis, particularly one that is 80 kilometres out to sea on the edge of the outer Great Barrier Reef, is no simple feat.

“Managing a pristine island eco resort on the Great Barrier Reef presents many challenges,” said Peter Gash.

“When we took over the stewardship and management of Lady Elliot Island Eco Lodge in 2005, it required 550 litres of diesel each day just to produce power.

“That was almost 200,000 litres per year – and at $1.50 per litre, it cost $300,000 per annum. The fact that the fuel was barged out from the mainland added more diesel burn and another 540 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum to the environment.”

So in December 2008, Peter built a three-phase solar hybrid power station on the island – it’s currently one of the larger privately-owned systems of its kind Australia – to battle the large energy and power demand.

Just two years after implementing the solar power system, Lady Elliot’s fuel consumption more than halved – with less than 70,000 litres of diesel used and less than 195 tonnes of emissions produced per annum.

And to think, this focus all began when Peter first snorkelled off Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Captivated by its natural beauty, he became a licensed pilot and began flying tourists to both Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island for more than 20 years.

But, simply sharing the intoxicating beauty of this island was not enough.

““Lady Elliot Island is special for so many reasons. It’s remarkable in it’s contrasts. It’s a place of unique and pristine maratime environment. Yet at the same time a recovering mine site.”

“I happen to believe in the following words that were penned by someone far more articulate than myself. We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” Peter said.

“To look after our environment, we must be efficient, we must be economical in all we do, we must continue to educate, particularly our young people who will take over from our stewardship.”

Over time, the ‘lady’ arrested his heart and Peter did what any man in love would do – he made the island his own, with the help of his wife and two business partners.

In just eight short years, Peter has already taken monumental steps to reduce the island’s carbon footprint and restore it back to the what nature intended it to be.

“Lady Elliot Island is the jewel in the crown of the Great Barrier Reef. It’ helps us to educate people what they can do for their town, their city, their country, their home.”

“I just love to see the looks of joy on our guests’ faces when they experience the pristine wilderness of such a beautiful place.”

 

For more information on Lady Elliot Island: http://www.ladyelliot.com.au

 

Find out more about the megafauna in the Great Barrier Reef:

http://teq.queensland.com/news-and-media/queensland-media-centre/latest-destination-news

 

To holiday on the Great Barrier Reef:

http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/experiences/great-barrier-reef/great-barrier-reef_home.cfm

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Noosa Festival Of Surfing Has Gone To The Dogs

NOOSA, AUSTRALIA – Pro surfers, amateurs, tandem surfing stars and man’s best friend have descended upon Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Australia, for the world’s biggest surf festival by competitor numbers.

One of the most popular competitions is the Dog Spectacular. Festival Co-Founder Paul Jarratt said they’re the only festival or surfing event in the world where the dogs surf on a stand up with their masters.

“It’s a wonderful experience for dog and human,” he said. “It’s not really about winning or losing; it’s a celebration of all the good things we love about surfing, the ocean and environment that we are privileged to have in Noosa.”

“I think that’s why we attract surfers and their families from all over the world, we’ve got 20 countries represented this year.”

Kerry Pittman, a first time dog surfer, was bursting with pride for her four-legged sidekick, Kelvin.

“It went pretty well and I’m pretty proud of him for staying on the board for the whole time,” she said. “I was thinking at some point that he was going to jump off but he trusted me enough to stay. We’re going to do it again for sure.”

It’s not just man’s best friend catered for in the 25th year of the festival. Surfers from all walks including, including longboard, shortboard, finless, tandem, stand up paddle boards, and body surfing take part.

People from a wide age range, from under 15 to over 70, also compete and are well looked after, which helps to make the festival one of the most popular events on the global surfing calendar

The event kicks on until March 12th with more than 30 competitions catering for a variety of surfers including longboard, short board, finless, stand up paddle board and more. Visit www.noosafestivalofsurfing.com for the full program.

 

Shows:

00:00 Chris De Avoitiz, Dog Whisperer entering the water

00:08 Dog solo on a surf board

00:22 Chris doing tricks with his dogs

00:30 Shot of 2 surfers and their dogs

00:42 Terry Deddan with his dog

00:56 Gv’s of the surfing dogs

02:36 Interview with Chris Avoitiz, Dog Whisperer

‘Aww, that was fun, small waves but we all had fun.’

02:40 ‘Who won, it’s just a fun thin, I reckon that dog surfing by itself was a crowd pleaser, that’s pretty cool, breaking new ground.’

02:48 Interview with Kerry Pitman (1st time dog surfer) and her dog Kelvin

‘I went pretty well, I’m pretty proud of him for staying on the board for the whole time. I was thinking at some point that he was going to jump off but no, he stayed, he trusted me enough to stay (laugh).’

02:59 Interview with Terry Deddan and his dog

Q – ‘why do you come dog surfing?’

A – ‘Cause the dog wants to go surfing (laugh), he takes me, just loves it, loves getting in the water, when you see her now she’s just excited, looking out at the ocean wanting to go surfing, so yeh, loves it.’

03:17 Drone footage (from licensed operator) vision of the dog surfing

04:12 Water vision of the surfing dogs

04:43 Noosa Beach

04:48 GV’s of the surfing contest

05:06 Vision of the Tandem surfing

05:53 Drone shots of Noosa

06:19 Interview with Phil Jarratt, Co-Founder of the Noosa Festival of Surfing

‘The Noosa Festival of Surfing is unique primarily because it’s not really about winning or losing for that matter. It’s a celebration of all the good things we love about surfing, about the ocean and about the environment that we are so privileged to have here in Noosa. And I think that’s why we attract surfers and their families from all over the world, we’ve got 20 countries represented here this year, it’s almost like the Olympic Games.’

06:47 We are the only festival or surfing event in the world that has this kind of dog surfing, where dogs actually surf on a stand up paddle board with their masters and uh, it’s a wonderful experience, for dog and for humans. But I have to admit that sometimes when we have world champions in the preceding heat and the beach starts to fill up and the champions think people have come to see them and I have to inform them that no, they’re here to see the dogs.’

07:15 Drone sequence of the Men’s Stand up paddle board final

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Beach Swell Sculpture Festival Where Bikinis And Bare Feet Abound

5th September 2015, Currumbin Beach, Gold Coast, Australia.

A giant dragon, a lion made out of chicken wire, relics from the lost civilisation of Atlantis and an iconic Australian Hill’s Hoist clothesline complete with beach towels are just some of the art works that have transformed an iconic Queensland beach into a 24 hour outdoor gallery.

Artists from New Zealand, Germany, the UK and Australia are among the artists who have travelled thousands of kilometres to exhibit their creations among the sand and surf of the
Gold Coast’s Currumbin Beach for the annual Swell Sculpture Festival.

Founded by Natasha Edwards Swell has always been about giving artists exposure and connecting people with their works.

“Every year in September at the start of Spring for ten days everyone gets out of the cold and in to the sunshine, feeling relaxed and chilled and being at one with nature and of course with the sculptures,” says Natasha.

There are works from 60 artists mesmerising crowds, along a one-kilometre stretch of the beach.

Artist Ingrid Morley from New South Wales entered her sisal, wood and steel creation called Lost and Found, a powerful portrayal of the turning points in all our lives.
“I suppose being able to come on the site and walk through in an informal way not in a gallery environment is just fantastic.”

Lost and Found won the major Swell Sculpture Award with Ingrid taking home $15,000 in prize money.
“I think winning this for me of course it’s wonderful to have a bit of money after knocking your head against a brick wall for years and years and years. The success of the work is that people are able to respond to it. That’s success.”

Swell is an exhibition that can be enjoyed around the clock with sunrise yoga and meditation classes, daytime music performances and twilight tours by curators. After dark the illuminated sculptures take on new lives.

For members of the public like James and Elizabeth, it’s a free taste of art and culture in a relaxed environment.

“Art galleries are sometimes few and far between. You can come down and enjoy it, the public enjoys it, it’s good,” says James.

Elizabeth says: “To see it on the beach it’s bringing art and a bit of culture to this part of the coast. It’s giving us a different perspective.”

Artist Greg Quinton has taken everyday Australian items the beach towel and the Hills Hoist and created You Should Always Know Where Your Towel Is. He has entered works in Swell year after year.
“What could be more Australian than a Hills Hoist really, this was actually dug out of a backyard in Brisbane that had been there for 45-50 years so it’s probably seen a few towels,” says Greg.

His sculpture was designed specifically with Swell in mind.

Greg says: “How often do you get the chance to put a work of art on the beach in such a fabulous setting, not very often do you? So you have these ideas in your head and generally they stay there but to have an opportunity to put them in place is pretty special I think.”

Sculptural artists from the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand have contributed to this year’s festival.

For Victorian Ben Carroll having his work Relics from Atlantis shown on the shores of one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world is a marriage made in artistic heaven, “Because it has been a part of my life for so long I just consider it the norm but it is really nice to be here and watch the continual amazement of all the people that walk up.”

Swell Sculpture Festival is currently in its 13th year, and has become Queensland’s largest outdoor celebration of art. The festival continues until 20 September.

Broadcast media, please contact:

nick@redrobot.org

paul@redrobot.org

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