Under a dense canopy of verdant ferns, flanked by the beach and surrounded by the sounds of nature —what could be better? In the hinterland of the Great Otway National Park, towards Colac, you’ll find fern-lined gullies and tranquil lakes, hear the sound of trickling streams, cascading waterfalls and feel dwarfed by the ancient forest giants. Nature is king in the Great Otway National Park.
But this sanctuary is increasingly threatened. The tranquil rainforest has been set upon by thousands of tour operators, whose day tours and boutique workshops are bringing more and more aspiring Instagrammers to the area in search of their own version of popular compositions. Scores of trail bikers have also been caught riding illegally in protected areas of the National Park.
It is however human nature that is the greatest threat to this beautiful tranquil location. Can ignorance be an excuse, or is our overwhelming desire to destroy things?
Environmental destruction is at the heart of the issues facing the Great Otway National Park, but what will the long term cost be?
A brief snapshot of the problems currently facing Beech Forest.
“Landscape photography is about sharing the beautiful and often rugged landscape with our audiences. Perhaps as photographers we need to educate and spread the word about conservation and respecting the environment so that future generations can enjoy the landscape too.
Tread lightly and leave no trace”
The real impact on Hopetoun Falls is best seen in Winter and Spring. Social media traffic, hashtags and geotags are more prevalent and tourism and destination hub accounts share and repost greater numbers of images of the falls. However, the increase in traffic also means more people jumping barriers to get up close to the falls.
With visitor numbers climbing, where does responsibility lie? Do tourism boards need to invest more money into infrastructure to reducing visitors’ impact? Or do we need to spread the word of respecting the environment?