Geotourism is tourism centred around geology, which also incorporates culture, history and the living landscapes rocks inhabit. I discovered Geotourism rather by accident when creating a ‘field trip’ website for a second year GIS class.
That website was Weekend Geology, which is now the home of Geotourism for Victoria. Endorsed by the Geological Society of Australia, the website has expanded to include an engaging guide to the geological history of Victoria, recommendations of books, apps and websites, guided tours and museums across Victoria and Social Media pages of impactful Victorian Geoscientists.
Recently, I have been invited to be a founding board member of the Australian Geoparks Network (2020), also contributing to Geotourism discussions with the Geological Society of Australia (GSA). I have experienced working at a Nature Retreat in the Strzelecki Ranges (2021), volunteering at farms in the Flinders Rangers (2020), volunteering at the Central Deborah Tourist Gold Mine in Bendigo (2017-2019) and with Museum Victoria in their collections and also Dinosaur Dreaming Dig Team (since 2012… when COVID doesn’t get in the way!). I am committed to continuing to learn and make contributions to the growth of Geotourism in Australia.
AUSTRALIAN GEOPARKS NETWORK
Geoparks are a program of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which began in 2004. Today there are 120 Global Geoparks in 33 countries – every continent except Australia. Geoparks are an effective vehicle to foster conservation, education and sustainable development through geotourism. The AGN board was formed to support and advise the development of Geoparks in Australia.
2015 – Present
I founded Weekend Geology and have been chipping away at the articles and field guides for many years. The website is popular, with over 1300 views a month, from schools, universities, travellers and anyone else interested in the rocks they’re walking through on the weekend.
CENTRAL DEBORAH GOLD MINE
Tour Guide and Archives Volunteer
April 2017 – April 2020
Whilst living in Bendigo, I became part of the Central Deborah Tourist Gold Mine community, initially volunteering as a Surface Tour Guide. I recorded various tour guide ‘spiels’, poured over numerous mine papers and books and developed a manual to assist future volunteers in the role.
In 2018 I organised the donation of 80+ Li-Ion headlamps from Fosterville Gold Mine to replace 30+ year old Lead-Acid headlamps for underground tours.
In 2019 I catalogued over 200 individual rock specimens, photographing and describing each item with hopes of the collection being available for educational activities in the future.
August 2013 – Current (intermittent)
I have attended three Dinosaur Dreaming digs with the museum, at both the Otways and Inverloch, and hopes to return to participate in many more. Volunteers on the digs help to prospect and unearth fossils (generally Cretaceous including dinosaurs, fish, turtles and mammal jaws) using jackhammers, rocks and chisel/hammers to break the rock down to sugar-cube sized rocks.
For a time I assisted the collection curator at the museum to prepare fossils, meteorites and minerals for study or exhibit using glues, coats, acids and tools to remove matrix from bone/enamel. I also volunteered as a gallery explainer in both the dinosaur exhibit at Melbourne Museum and the travelling collection at the Wool Museum, Geelong.
Other experiences in the tourism industry
Southern Flinders, SA
I spent a month with Raymon, Renae, Paul and Matt volunteering at their family-run Biodynamic Stone Fruit Farm in the Southern Flinders. I took part in picking, drying and preserving in jams/sauces/chutneys apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches; selling fruit, vegetables, eggs and dried fruits/preserves at various markets; learning about sheep, cow and meat chicken husbandry first-hand, caring for and collecting eggs from laying chickens for sale and planting in the market garden a variety of seasonal vegetables!
I also gained a valuable understanding of how tourism, centred around the natural assets of the forest and ancient rocks, had an important impact on the local economy.
JUMBUK PARK NATURE RETREAT Gippsland, VIC
January – March 2021
In the first months of 2021 I worked at Jumbuk Park, a 400 acre nature retreat hidden within the Strzelecki Rainforest. I helped Laura and David on some projects which involved track clearance, using a digger, tree planting, mowing, flipping cabins and helping with guests, and researching and developing a Herbarium of all local plant species for educational purposes.
The experience of running through and exploring barefoot an ancient rainforest, of learning the names and uses of all of the plants and spending hours watching lyre birds meticulously and calmly nestle bugs from the leafy forest floor adorned me with an unexpectedly strong connection with and respect for the land. A connection I hope I can share with future generations as a teacher of Environmental Science and through Geo- and Nature-tourism.