Raindrop showers and saving tiger quolls. Meet Shayne and Lizzie, owners of the Great Ocean Ecolodge

April 3, 2012

Great Ocean Road

Just off one of the most spectacular coastal drives in Australia, the Great Ocean Ecolodge in Cape Otway offers a green retreat to eco-conscious travellers. With unrivalled access to cuddly koalas, wildlife conservation projects and the breathtaking walks around the Great Ocean Road, we chat to owners Shayne and Lizzie about why a visit to Australia is made completeby a stay at the lodge.

Lizzie encouraging a koala to adopt a joeyQ. First of all, working at the Great Ocean Ecolodge Retreat sounds very different from the 9 to 5 desk job!

It is very different to a 9-5 desk job! We grew up in the Australian bush, understanding the importance of caring for ecosystems, and went on to study Zoology and Natural Resource Management, where we learnt about the imperative for inspiring and engaging others in conservation.  We wanted to set up the Great Ocean Ecolodge as a social enterprise, created to raise funds for wildlife conservation, while also providing opportunities for people from all over the world to visit Australia and get involved.

Q. Lots of great rewards then?

The rewards are plentiful! The Great Ocean Road is an incredibly special place – spectacularly beautiful, with great conservational significance and an amazing community.  We love being here, working in a team of talented and dedicated people to really make things happen.  We are continually inspired, because we know that every day we do what we love and we know we are making a difference. Our rewards come from observing the progression to independence  of a rescued animal, from sharing the excitement  of a guest on seeing kangaroos for the first time and from working with our research team to break new ground in conservation.

The best way to start the day: The Great Eco Lodge at dawn Q. So, what’s a typical day at work?

Every day is different!  There will be orphaned wildlife to feed and often injured wildlife to treat and perhaps new animals requiring care. Some days we are able to release recovered animals back into the wild.

There are exciting research projects to coordinate and assist our research team with, which could include work on koala habitat conservation or assisting the CEC’s detection dog team to locate endangered tiger quolls so we can gain insights into their ecology so that conservation efforts can be applied most effectively.   It is very special to us to be able to share all of this with our guests.

Q. What can guests expect from a stay with you – what shouldn’t they miss?

Guests can expect a genuine commitment to sustainability.  While staying at the Great Ocean Ecolodge your water comes from the pure Otways rainfall, the light of the Australian sun provides all your electricity and your showers are raindrops gently warmed by the sun. The Ecolodge is built from sustainable materials such as mudbrick and is designed to stay cool in summer and cosy in winter.  For us, sustainability is about living comfortably as a part of our beautiful natural environment – appreciating the bush, caring for it and ensuring that it will be here for future generations.

The landscapes of the Great Ocean Road are stunning with pristine rainforests, secret woodlands, sheltered coves and wild ocean beaches.  The Great Ocean Walk is a wonderful way to discover this beautiful coastline.

The opportunity to watch wildlife living naturally in the wild alongside people who are working to protect them is something which our guests say they particularly cherish from their time here.  Our new Conservation Experiences also offer guests the chance to join the conservation and research team and leave a legacy of their time in Victoria by assisting with the conservation of wildlife.

Q. Any favourite experiences?

Living and working with an incredible team in a spectacular part of the world where wildlife abounds creates special memories every day.  Many of our guests return again and again and become good friends.

Particularly special memories are the animals which are rescued as tiny, furless orphaned joeys who go on to become strong independent animals, released back into their natural environment – there have been many of them but we remember them all.

Q. You do a lot of work to save tiger quolls. What’s the situation at the moment and how can your guests help? Endangered tiger quolls near Melbourne, Victoria

Tiger Quolls are the largest marsupial carnivores remaining on the Australian mainland and they play a vital role in the Australian ecosystem.

Sadly they are endangered and populations are declining across their entire range.

Our guests play an important role in helping us conserve quolls.  They get involved with monitoring and surveying using remote cameras, assisting with the development of new survey techniques, and working alongside us to restore and reconnect precious habitat.  We have three beautiful Tiger Quolls living in residence here and the chance to get up close with such a charismatic endangered species is something our guests particularly appreciate – it is hard not to fall completely in love with their pink noses, beautiful white spots and tenacious attitudes!

Because all the profits from the Ecolodge are directed to the Conservation Programs of the Conservation Ecology Centre guests are also helping just by coming to stay.

Q. The centre has just been highly commended by the international Responsible Travel Awards. Plus, you’ve just received funding for new projects. Congratulations! What new projects are you working on?

Thank you, we were delighted to be recognised in the Responsible Travel Awards!

We are working on some great new projects, some of them include:

– Implementing wide spread surveys for Tiger Quolls using remote cameras and hair traps in conjunction with Parks Victoria and DSE.

– Training a team of community volunteers and their dogs as ‘Otways Conservation Dogs’ to detect elusive Tiger Quoll latrine sites (to gain insights into the genetics of the quoll population) with South West Victorian Dogs, thanks to the Mazda Foundation.

– Developing innovative new techniques to improve the effectiveness of Tiger Quoll surveys (more on this soon!).

– Reconnecting and restoring habitats and trialling new methods of building ecosystem resilience to conserve precious koala habitat.

– Implementing humane feral predator control methods to reduce predation and competition pressures on indigenous species thanks to a Caring for our Country Community Action grant.

– Monitoring koalas and their habitats to record the changes and gain insights into koala/habitat dynamics.

Go eco:

Fancy stopping to say hello to Shane and Lizzie? To plan your trip to the Great Ecolodge on the spectacular Great Ocean Road, visit VisitMelbourne.com

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  1. Discovery of the decade! First tiger quoll found in the Otways in Victoria | Visit Melbourne blog - May 10, 2012

    […] about Lizzie and Shane’s tiger quoll conservation projects at the Great Ocean Eco Lodge. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. Nina’s photo diary: Baby kangaroo in the Great Ocean Eco Lodge | Visit Melbourne blog - June 14, 2012

    […] Fancy stopping to say hello ? Plan your trip to the Great Ocean Eco Lodge and find out more about the conservation work at the eco-lodge in our interview with Shayne and Lizzie. […]

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