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Eco-camping just minutes from Sydney CBD: I had heard about Lane Cove River Tourist Park, and as a committed eco-camper, it was only a matter of time before I found myself checking it out first-hand.

The Eco Tourist

I TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT MY GPS to make sure I am still in Sydney and haven't somehow been magically transported into the bush. It's true, I am only 10 kilometres from the Sydney Harbour Bridge but the sights, sounds and smells tell me I'm in the middle of the Australian bush.

As I settle into my patch of wilderness so close to the city, I stop for a minute to get a sense of the park. Surrounded by incredible native gardens and under the gaze of a curious kookaburra, I set up camp adjacent to the 'campers' kitchen', which I discover comes complete with refrigerator, gas cooker and sink.

After a hot cuppa, it's time for a walk--and it's not long before I come across the grey-water recycling station that I was assured was world-first technology. Developed jointly between the park and Australia's National Scientific Organisation, this low-impact, nano-gill system treats some 20,000 litres of the park's used grey-water every single day for irrigating and toilet flushing.

A little further down the track, I bump into park manager Andrew Daff, and ask him about the other sustainability measures in the park.

"There is a host of them," he says. "We are so passionate about our little patch of protected area that we have gone as sustainable as is possible. This includes three different types of solar generation--panels, tubular solar and solar canvas--which means we are now generating over 20 per cent of our annual consumption. Our biggest achievement is being certified as carbon neutral."

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But it seems that the park's sustainability deals with much more than energy and water. As night falls, the park comes alive with the sights and sounds of wildlife. Daft told me that in the last five years there have been over 250,000 trees, shrubs, bushes and grasses revegetated on park land and the prevalence of native wildlife certainly proves that.

I take up the offer of a free night tour, which is available to all park guests. Wildlife carer Liz explains the habitat initiatives then takes me on a walk to meet some of the local natives, ranging from possums to bandicoots.

The local Aboriginal people have been included in the park's sustainability platform. I take the time to catch the free Indigenous Cultural Performance, in which two local Aboriginal performers, Terry and Glen, walk me through the local culture with interpretive songs and dance--I even had a go at being a kangaroo.

"The performances are a highlight for us," Daft says. "To be able to showcase the oldest living culture in the world and bring it to life in such an interactive and respectful way is an achievement of which we are rightly proud."

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Waking to the songs of parrots, currawongs and kookaburras, I want to explore the rest of the National Park before I set off back to the concrete jungle. I take the walking track and wind my way through the blue gum forests until I arrive at the Lane Cove River. The morning mist is just clearing and the river reveals yet another side to the park and the area. I am informed, on good authority, that I'm close by the spot where Charles Darwin wandered around when he sailed up the river on the Beagle and only a few hundred metres from the landing spot of Captain Arthur Phillip, who ordered the area logged to build Sydney Town.

There is so much more to Lane Cove River Tourist Park, not the least being the feeling that comes from knowing my camping fees are going directly into flora, fauna and habitat management projects.

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Lane Cove River Tourist Park

Plassey Rd

Macquarie Park NSW 2113

www.lcrtp.com.au

Owned and operated by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Green Globe Certified, Advanced Eco Tourism Status, Climate Action Leader Status.
COPYRIGHT 2010 Australian Conservation Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Habitat Australia
Article Type:Travel narrative
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Oct 1, 2010
Words:658
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