His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with Gash awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2020 for his services to ecotourism and aviation. Lady Elliot has also drawn some the world’s biggest names in conservation over the years, including King (then-Prince) Charles, who visited in 2018 as part of a roundtable discussion with business leaders on the role they could play in protecting the reef. The same year, Lady Elliot was selected as the first “climate change ark” to be established through the Great Barrier Marine Park’s Reef Islands Initiative, a 10-year project to establish a network of climate change refuges to protect critical habitats on key reef islands.
With a barge arriving just three times a year to transport just 15 bins of garbage to the mainland and top up supplies, nothing is wasted on Lady Elliot. Rubbish is diligently separated, food scraps are churned into compost by a machine affectionally known as Oscar, and treated wastewater is used for irrigation. Yet guests don’t go without, with sundowners served out of the back of an electric buggy on Lighthouse Beach every evening at sunset adding a touch of luxury.
With the fleet of small, fuel-efficient planes used to transport guests to the island accounting for most of the resort’s emissions (guests can opt to pledge $2 to support its carbon-offsetting programe in partnership with Greenfleet), Gash now has his sights set on transitioning to electric aviation.
“I had hoped to be flying an electric aircraft to Lady Elliot by my 65th birthday, but with only a year to go now, it might have to be by my 70th,” he grinned, with that twinkle in his eyes again.
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