Australia’s Wild West: Eco Beach

Back in August, Gadling’s Scott Carmichael wrote about various eco-friendly resorts in Australia. I have never enjoyed reading a Gadling post more, but that may be because I was reading it by the pool of one of the resorts that he profiled. As I enjoyed a beer at Eco Beach while reading Scott’s piece, I was curious about just what makes a resort truly environmentally friendly. Is it how it utilizes and replenishes resources? Or how it doesn’t damage the land on which it exists? Or is it more than that? During my time at Eco Beach, I kept those questions in mind. And by the end of my stay, I was confident that it kept its promise of being a true “eco resort.”


Eco Beach is a 90 minute drive from Broome and seemingly a world away. The last 10km of the trip are on an unsealed road that requires you to stop several times to open gates that keep livestock belonging to nearby cattle farms from wandering off. Even as you pull into Eco Beach, the area looks more like farmland that beachfront property. To preserve the coastal habitat, guests must park their cars several hundred meters from the resort. The staff will gladly pick you up from the car park, or you can do what I did and enjoy the view as it slowly reveals itself during your walk to the reception desk.

Eco Beach offers two types of accommodations: villas and tents. Both are solar powered (providing both electricity and hot water) with screened windows that are positioned to optimize ocean breezes. I stayed in a tent, but the name belies the level of sophistication that was found inside. I had a king-sized bed, shelves, a bathroom with working toilet, sink and shower and multiple outlets to charge my gear. The ocean breeze kept the tent cool throughout the day despite a cloudless sky and temperatures in the mid-80s.

The villas are larger, permanent structures and are ideal for families or couples looking for a little more space and privacy. They provide a living room area and spectacular views of the Indian Ocean.

In fact, virtually the entire property provides either an elevated view of the ocean or an opportunity to hear the gentle rustling of the water embracing the shore. There is little to know surf at Eco Beach, which allows for safe swimming (when the jellyfish are not in season). The cliff-lined coast provides a wonderful setting for early morning and twilight walks along the beach.

Perhaps the best walk at Eco Beach is the along the nature trail. An interpretive walk, Eco Beach worked with local indigenous peoples and their cattle station neighbors to create a path that takes you through the bush and gives you a sense of how diverse the flora and fauna of the area truly are. The apex of the path offers an exceptional panoramic view of the ocean to one side and to the other, the resort nestled in the bush.

Eco Beach employs a yoga instructor who offers sessions almost everyday, as well as spa facilities. For travelers looking to take advantage of the Indian Ocean’s bevy of wildlife, fishing and whale watching cruises are easily booked at the resort’s front desk. And because of Eco Beach’s remote location, guests take most of their meals at Jack’s Bar, the resort’s poolside restaurant. From traditional English breakfasts to some of the best prawns I’ve ever tasted, the food quality at the resort was commensurate with the expectations that its accommodations create.

By the end of my stay, I’d come to the conclusion that Eco Beach was not just your typical green resort. Yes, the facilities are solar powered and the food is sourced locally. But beyond that, the resort has become an extension of the land on which it sits. The villas and tents mesh seamlessly into the coastline. The proprietors’ respect for the local wildlife is evident in their participation in tracking of turtle migrations in the area. Overall, Eco Beach creates the impression that it is as much a part of the natural landscape of the area as the cliffs and dunes that it neighbors.

For more information on Eco Beach, visit their website.

Mike Barish rode horses, flew in tiny planes and hiked across Western Australia on a trip sponsored by Tourism Western Australia. There were no restrictions on what he could cover or how many hamburgers he could eat. You can read other entries in his Australia’s Wild West series HERE.

Gadling Take FIVE: Week of January 24-30

When it comes to finding places to stay, this week has turned up several options from national parks to a person’s backyard.

  • For the budget conscious traveler, Alison offers a new idea in her post Out: couch. In: tent. Instead of looking for a couch for a sleeping arrangement, there’s another network where travelers can find a place to pitch a tent–like a person’s backyard. If staying in a stranger’s house seems unnerving, staying outside a person’s house may feel more comfortable.
  • Brenda has given us the dibs on the Hostel Trail in Latin America. After telling about her personal experience at a guest house in Popayán, Colombia, she presents tips about how you can find the same kind of deal–the type that leaves a person beaming, just like she’s beaming in the photo.
  • In Kraig’s post The World’s Best National Parks, follow the link to National Parks Traveler. Along with descriptions about the top 10 parks, you’ll find links to the parks themselves and places to stay if you go. For example, here’s the link to places to stay in Fiordland, New Zealand, number one on the list.
  • In Budget Travel: Detroit, an installment of our series on budget destinations, David Landsel, editor of the New York Post’s Travel section offers many suggestions for where to stay in Detroit. The Inn on Ferry Street sounds the most unique and interesting.
  • If you want to avoid the dirtiest hotels, one place to look is Trip Advisor’s 2009 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

And one more. If it’s late and you have no where to go, Annie suggests that you try, a site that will find places near you that are open.

Big Agnes Big House 6 tent review

I didn’t grow up camping. My family is not particularly outdoorsy. So, as embarrassed as I am to say this as I approach my 30th birthday, I went camping for the first time only two years ago. That said, I’ve been hooked ever since. And I’ve spent the last two years assembling my own collection of camping gear. The downside of not growing up with a tradition of camping is that I didn’t own any gear to get my collection started. The upside is that I have been able to research the best products and ones that fit my style. So, when it came time to acquire the pièce de résistance, a tent, I took my research seriously. After much consternation, I selected the Big Agnes Big House 6. I recently put the tent and the optional footprint (sold separately) to the test on a camping trip on the island of Culebra in Puerto Rico.

The first thing you notice about the Big House 6 is that it’s, well, big. It truly is made to house six adults. Which is why it’s so shocking to see that it is held up by only three tent poles. The last thing you want to do when you get to your campsite is assemble several tent poles of various lengths and sort out which pole goes in which sleeve. To have a legitimate six-person tent held up by three poles of equal lengths is incredibly comforting. The second thing you’ll notice is that you don’t need six people to assemble this tent. In fact, if you want to send five people off to get firewood, s’mores supplies and a few cases of beer, one person could get the tent up in about ten minutes. I know because I did a test run with the tent…alone…in my Manhattan apartment.

On Culebra, my friend Adriana and I pitched the tent in under ten minutes and got the rain fly attached after another five minutes. So, in under 15 minutes our campsite was up and running and we were off to photograph iguanas and explore the beach. There’s no better feeling on a camping trip than when you realize that you’re just living the experience and not spending the entire time working and organizing.

With only four people on the trip, we had an incredible amount of space inside the 90 square foot structure. And with two full-sized doors on either side of the tent, I was able to get up early in the morning to grab some food from the local vendors without disturbing my tent-mates. The two ladies in the tent took full advantage of the twelve mesh pockets that line the walls, stocking them full of various accessories so that they were within reach when the sun went down and we relied only my lantern for light.

The true test came when the Caribbean rain rolled in at night. The rain fly kept us completely dry from above and the footprint added an extra layer of material between us and the damp ground. From inside our polyester fortress, the elements were of no concern to us. Even the random iguana that rammed into the tent in the middle of the night learned that nature was no match for the Big House 6.

There are a few little quirks that I also enjoy on the Big House 6. Even with the rain fly attached, you still get a decent-sized skylight. Both doors have mesh screens that you can expose to allow a breeze to flow through the tent. When the overnight low on Culebra is in the mid-70s, it’s nice to have a cool ocean breeze as you try to fall sleep.

Lastly, for a tent this size, the Big House 6 is remarkably portable. The stuff sack holds the stakes, tent, rain fly, poles and has room for the footprint, as well. It all folds into a reasonably sized sack and weighs under 14 pounds. Perhaps too big for a backpacking trip, but perfect for car camping. I toted it on the eight seater plane to Culebra with ease.

Perhaps the only concern I have about the Big House 6 is that the zippers on the doors often catch on the large flaps of polyester that cover them. Several times I had to remove the flap after getting it caught in the zipper threading. Thankfully the polyester is durable enough to withstand this stress.

Big, portable, easy to assemble, durable and with an attached welcome mat that just makes you smile. Overall, I cannot rave about this tent enough and highly recommend it. You can find the Big Agnes Big House 6 in many outdoor and sporting goods stores but it appears that the best deal right now is on Amazon, where they’ve marked it down to $282.

I may not have grown up camping, but now I have a great tent as a grown-up.


GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of June 10

Here’s a handful from the week that you may have looked over some how and for one reason or another they deserve all your attention. Take five, 15 or 50 minutes exploring these posts from this week.

5. Urban Camping: Tents in the Big City?:
Like camping or sleeping in your car? Here’s a lovely gear idea to get you doing both right out on your urban neighborhood street or avenue or boulevard.

4. Internet Everywhere with AutoNet Mobile:
This one is for real internet junkies or professionals who actually need the net on the GO. See how you can get broadband internet service for your car.

3. America’s Most Miserable Airports:
A trip through the airport can be a trip in itself. Find out which airports you should try avoiding this summer when making plans that may include a layover or flying through them all together.

2. Eating Your Way Through the Ethnic Neighborhoods of Los Angeles:
Looking for something different to feast on in the city of Angels tonight? The options are endless as Neil points out in this spotlight on some of the ethnic neighborhoods serving up exotic plates. Oh, and they’re delicious too…

1. A Canadian in Beijing: Shannon’s Wings:

Ember pays homage to a close friend who committed suicide and walks us through the details of an accidental bird sanctuary visit. The piece is touching, beautiful and thought-provoking. Hands down one of the best for the week…

Urban Camping: Tents in the Big City?

Prices of metropolitan hotels got you down? No worries. Michael Rakowitz’ P(Lot) project has the answer for cheap stays in the city: car cover tents! Plop one down in a parking space, feed the meter, and you’ve got yourself a campsite. Break out the s’mores! Sure, vagrancy laws might cut your stay a little short, but the memories would last a lifetime. [via]

Check out more urban camping photos after the jump.

Here’s a view inside the car cover tent. Looks cosy, but I’d worry about pesky city roaches and rodents popping in for a visit.

I think I’d pick this urban camping tent. I’m not a racing fan; the tent just reminds me of my old racecar bed. Vroom vroom.

Here’s one for the high-rollers. It’s a Porsche-shaped car cover tent. I’d love to see the look on the face of a confused thief who pulls back the car cover only to find a sleeping bag and Therm-a-rest.

People watching would probably be a lot of fun during an urban camping trip. I’d sit in the empty shell with the tent flap open waving to people and snacking on granola bars.