Passport to the Peel: Exploring our backyard with a guided Ways to Nature walk

Walks, wilderness and wonder.

That's how Sarah Way describes her ecotourism adventure, Ways to Nature - based right here in the Peel region.

An experienced zoologist and local nature guru, Sarah runs a unique business guiding people on walking tours alongside Mandurah's jewel in the crown - the Peel-Harvey Estuary and Inlet.

She knows everything there is to know about local flora and fauna in the Bindjareb region and has a passion for wildlife and conservation that spans almost two decades and is nothing short of inspiring.

Intrigued by her local knowledge, and concerned about my lack-thereof, I joined Sarah for a tour of the Len Howard Conservation Park on a beautiful sunny Saturday earlier this month.

My mum and dad tagged along for the experience, jumping at the chance to get off the beaten track and enjoy an active morning learning more about our very own backyard.

Hidden just behind suburbia, but quiet enough to think you'd been whisked away to the middle of nowhere, we met Sarah for a three-kilometre bushwalking journey.

We started with a rundown of the local history and heritage, before we took to the boardwalks to get our first peek of what felt like never-ending waterways.

We caught glimpses of dozens of local and migratory birds, including a whistling kite and a pair of resident parent ospreys.

With Sarah's impressive binoculars at the ready, we got an even better look at the waterbirds and their habitats throughout the samphire saltmarshes.

As we walked, the diverse surroundings shifted and changed, but we never lost sight of the great views of the estuary.

We meandered through banskia coastal woodlands and swamps full of old paperbarks and enjoyed the sunshine beaming down on us.

The walk felt easy and there was no rush, nor any need for hiking experience.

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Sarah knew everything there was to know, and if she didn't know it, she did everything in her power to find out and answer every possible question.

Trust me when I say that because my parents and I had a lot of questions.

About two hours later, we had walked the entire length of the Erskine Trail and were met by a shuttle bus to return to our vehicles parked at the beginning of the track.

I know I can speak for all of us when I say Sarah restored our sense of wonder.

She shared her passion and knowledge with us to help us reconnect with nature and with each other.

She inspired us to rediscover and appreciate the hidden gems in our own backyard, and strengthened our sense of place in the environment.

Ecotourism is on the rise across Australia and the world, with surveys finding more travellers are keen to embark on nature experiences like hiking and camping for a post-quarantine adventure.

This experience is the perfect opportunity for those seeking something sustainable and wanting to delve into nature and learn Mandurah's stunning wetland reserves and local wildlife.

For more information about Ways to Nature, or to book a walking tour, visit the website at www.waystonature.com.au/.

The new Passport to the Peel series will highlight some of the region's best travel experiences as I start ticking off my never-ending local bucket list and play tourist in our great town.

We would love to hear about your recommended travel experiences around the Peel region. Email editor@mandurahmail.com.au with your suggestions.