MORE and more travellers these days are wanting to ensure they choose eco-friendly holidays and make a positive impact.
One such destination and one of the NSW South Coast's best kept secrets, Kangaroo Valley, is overflowing with things to see and do and places to stay that are gentle on the planet.
Just two hours from Sydney, and arguably Australia's most beautiful valley, the Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association has compiled a list of its top 10 eco-friendly must-dos.
Enjoy adventure tours, bush-walking, canoeing, cycling, horse-riding, arts and crafts, food and wine, and yes, lots of places to see kangaroos and wombats.
Committed to sustainable tourism above all else, the area won recognition in the World Responsible Tourism Awards.
A place that inspired world- renowned nutritionist Rosemary Stanton to call home, a valley of "fertility" in indigenous history, and with the best access to river canoeing in NSW, Kangaroo Valley is a must-do destination for a last-minute summer holiday or trip in 2013.
"Staying longer is the key to experiencing everything that the Valley has to offer," KVTA president Chris Warren said.
Kangaroo Valley is two hours drive south from Sydney, or north of Canberra, and is surrounded by sandstone escarpments and the Morton National Park. It is just a 30-minute drive from Berry and a choice of beaches, or 45minutes to Bowral and the Southern Highlands.
Stay in four-star retreats, luxury self-contained houses with pools, bush cottages, motel or camp by the river. Crystal Creek Meadows has won five national tourism and environmental awards.
Top 10 eco-friendly must-dos in Kangaroo Valley
1. Canoe down Kangaroo River - with 80km of pristine river systems to explore, enjoy some of the best access to river canoeing in NSW with a day-long self-guided 5km journey downstream or extend it to three days with camping in the bush. Join Kangaroo Valley Safaris or Kangaroo Valley Adventures.
2. Take one of 25 bush walks or mountain-bike trails - choose from a wide variety of walks in and around the valley from gentle sightseeing through the village to spectacular vistas and wildflowers on the Three Views Walk, and the Meryla Pass, an ancient Aboriginal tract and convict-built road. Hire bikes from the village or join Kangaroo Valley Adventure Tours in the oxygen-rich Morton National Park.
3. Get up close with kangaroos and wombats - see a variety of fauna that live in the valley from birds, endangered and rare brush-tailed rock-wallabies, echidnas, platypus, possums and sugar gliders, to name just a few. Top picks are Bendeela Picnic and Camping Ground for wombats, goannas, water dragons and kangaroos, or accommodation set in nature with sunset visitors.
4. Walk over Hampden Bridge and swim in the Kangaroo River - walk over Australia's last surviving wooden suspension bridge, built in the 1890s and swim in the river. Then learn all about the village's history on a walking tour from the bridge to historic houses, buildings, churches and seven National Trust-listed locations.
5. Foodie trail - join a group tour with Tastes of the Valley, cooking class with Flavours of the Valley, or guide yourself around to the local farms to try olives and wine. At Jing Jo restaurant the menu features seasonal produce from their delicious vegetable garden.
6. Horse-riding trail ride - enjoy the high country on a three-hour horse trail ride with The Man from Kangaroo Valley through lush rainforest, open grazing land and endless bush with spectacular views across the Morton National Park.
7. Fish at Lake Yarrunga - with a quarter of a million bass, your chances of catching a big one are high, plus it's easy to buy a licence for just $6 in the village and hire your fishing gear.
8. Join an art class - learn how to paint inspiring Australian landscapes with a local artist, buy local jewellery, fine art, ceramics and sculptural pieces at galleries, or tie in your visit to attend one of the major classical and contemporary music events held annually.
9. Visit Pioneer Museum Park - not your everyday museum, it is beautifully curated with sound activation about local pioneering life, vintage farm buildings and picnic areas and a beautiful shady walk through the Kangaroo Valley nature reserve.
10. Choose the Green Kangaroo - a list of tourism operators offer eco-friendly options for accommodation, restaurants and activities, they are gentle on the planet and provide genuine authentic experiences. The Green Kangaroo program is a unique initiative from the KVTA.
Kangaroo Valley is one of Australia's leading environmentally responsible tourist destinations.
It was the first plastic bag-free town in mainland Australia and won 'highly commended' for Best Destination in the World Responsible Tourism Awards in 2010, the first for an Australian destination.
The Kangaroo Valley Explorer offers self-guided tours in PDF form to download with maps and information for walking and cycling, from a short village orientation to full-day excursions.
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