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Honey, we need to recycle that, er, eco resort

G Magazine

Travel

The cabins prior to their removal from Queensland to the Northern Territory.

Credit: Wildman Wilderness Lodge

Eco cabins purchased by the Wildman Wilderness Lodge being transferred from Queensland to the Northern Territory, to be recycled into new eco lodges.

Credit: Wildman Wilderness Lodge

The holding lot for the recycled eco cabins, to be refurbished once the wet season subsides.

Credit: Wildman Wilderness Lodge

A recycled eco cabin, on a holding lot in the Northern Territory - waiting to be refurbished on a new eco tourism site.

Credit: Wildman Wilderness Lodge

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Hotels that ask guests to re-use towels are a dime a dozen these days. Others offer to offset guests's carbon emissions, get certified by Ecotourism Australia, use biodegradable or organic cleaning products, voluntarily submit to Green Globe or Earthcheck sustainability audits, generate their own solar electricity – the list goes on.

Now an Australian Government initiative, in partnership with Anthology travel company, is raising the eco-consciousness bar – by recycling an entire resort.

Everything old is new again

Wildman Wilderness Lodge, Anthology's latest acquisition, is on the Mary River wetlands in the Top End, halfway between Darwin and Kakadu - or at least it soon will be.

In what is being called "the greatest example of recycling in Australian tourism", Wildman Wilderness Lodge is being created from another lodge - Wrotham Park Station, a former working cattle property and tourism venture part-owned by RM Williams and once managed by Voyages, 300km west of Cairns in far north Queensland.

When Wrotham Park closed in October last year, it was bought by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), an Australian Government organisation committed to helping Aboriginals become economically independent and "closing the gap" between them and other Australians in terms of standards of living.

The plan: to dismantle Wrotham Park's infrastructure and use it to set up a new tourism venture in the Northern Territory.

It took almost a month for a team of builders to take Wrotham Park Station Lodge apart in November last year.

Cabin verandahs and awnings were removed so the cabins themselves could be lifted onto the back of semi-trailers. Over two-thirds of the bar and restaurant complex was put on trucks too, as well as two staff accommodation units, generators, the water and sewage treatment systems and the electrical infrastructure.

Caution: luxury lodge ahead

Then everything was loaded onto 18 triple road trains and transported 2,800 kilometres across the outback to Darwin, where it spent the wet season in a warehouse awaiting the start of the dry season, when construction of Wildman Wilderness Lodge could begin.

While all this was happening, IBA partnered with Anthology, the high-end travel company founded by tourism identity Grant Hunt (who, as it happens, was CEO of Voyages for more than a decade until 2006).

Anthology, which was launched in 2008, has four iconic travel properties already: Bay of Fires Lodge in north-eastern Tasmania, Cradle Mountain Huts on Tasmania's Overland Track, historic Quamby Estate, near Launceston; and Wilpena Pound Resort in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

Wildman Wilderness Lodge will be its fifth and promises to maintain Anthology's high standards of accommodation and environmental awareness.

When it opens in early 2011, Wildman Wilderness Lodge will have 15 air-conditioned cabins (10 of them from Wrotham and five newly built replicas) and 15 new, fan-cooled luxury safari tents inspired by Hunt's travels in Africa. The main lodge from Wrotham will be reassembled and expanded to house the bar and restaurant.

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