This story appeared in the Australian Gourmet Traveller when we won their Innovation in Travel award. We’ve also won other awards.
Innovation in Travel
Australian Gourmet Traveller
On their lush 12ha property near Mossman in far north Queensland, Alan and Suzi Carle offer a unique travel experience, guiding groups of visitors through the mini rainforest habitats they have created and opening their eyes to the myriad benefits these endangered plant species hold for humanity.
For more than 20 years, the Carles have travelled to remote corners of the planet, searching the tropical world for rare plant species and gleaning information about their benefits for humans from the traditional owners of the land. At times, the search has taken on an Indian Jones-like air of death-defying adventure as the pair have been caught up in revolutions and confronted by drug squads.
“We try to get to the rainforest before they are knocked down,” says Alan. “There is so much interesting food out there we don’t even know about.” Shown at right is the fruit of the pitaya cactus from South America, which Alan describes as having “a superb flavour, best served chilled”.
Many fruit species collected by the Carles, such as sapote, star apple and salak, have been adopted by local farmers and are now in commercial production.
The Botanical Ark is open to corporate groups by arrangement, with a tour tailored to suit the interest of each group, who are shown how rainforest plants could be of economical benefit to their company. “We try to use every sense there is to get the environmental message across using ethnobotanical plants that are a use for people, whether for food, pharmaceuticals, rubber, rust inhibitors, dyes or fuel,” says Alan. “You don’t achieve anything by attacking people. If you put a positive platform out there, you have a greater chance of long-term success than by lying in font of a bulldozer. “
Alan and Suzi’s philosophy is that human survival depends on caring for the environment and that ownership should be tied to leaving the land in better shape for the next generation. “It’s not easy for people to see how individuals can make a difference,” says Alan. “Here, they can see what two people can achieve. It’s been a labour of love and we are very honoured to receive this award.”
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“We have visited many wonderful places around the world and [the Botanical Ark] is one of the most beautiful places.”
Couple from Melbourne
“An amazing place. Enjoyed every moment!”
Couple from Sydney
“Words cannot describe how amazing this place is.”
Couple from Australia
“You have created heaven on Earth.”
Couple from Bundaberg, Australia.
“You have the most beautiful place and we are privileged to have stayed here.”
Family from New Zealand.
“This is a beautiful, amazing and blissful place.”
Guest from Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
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