Bedarra Island owner Sam Charlton loves the perspective he gets of the Great Barrier Reef from a stand-up paddle board. “My favourite Bedarra experience was having a manta ray follow me around the island. Every time I stopped paddling it would do a loop around me and come back again. On another occasion, I wanted to show a new staff member around the island. It was a perfect glassy day so we both went for a paddle and heard the noise of whales exhaling through their blowholes. Three humpback whales came up beside us, a mother, father and their calf.”
In 1986, aged 12, Sam spent 18 idyllic months living on Bedarra Island with his family alongside renowned Australian artist Noel Wood who had resided on the island since 1936. In between exploring his home on foot and by kayak, Sam would listen to Noel’s stories about Bedarra’s history and environment. The Charlton family moved away, but Sam maintained an affinity with the island and, after its resort was devastated by Cyclone Yasi in 2011, he and his wife Kerri-Ann (pictured) purchased it.
In a bid to protect his piece of paradise, Sam looked at how water, power and waste should be managed on the island. “The overriding idea was to determine what population the island could sustain. Reducing the number of villas from 16 to 10 allowed us to introduce sustainability initiatives that included using spring water and rain water instead of a diesel-hungry desalination plant and switching from diesel generators to solar power,” he said. Waste has been reduced by giving preference to suppliers that use minimal packaging, organic waste is composted for the island’s vegetable garden and a new bio-cycle septic system installed.
The result not only gave Bedarra Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business certification by Eco Tourism Australia, it gives guests a truly exclusive getaway that treads lightly on a World Heritage area.