Growing up on the Mornington Peninsula, three brothers Tom, Dan and Ben Falzon could never have dreamed they would find their destiny away from the water and deep in the heart of the desert in Alice Springs. But that’s exactly what happened when, seventeen years ago, the boys along with their dad Joey, arrived in the Alice and decided to do something big for the planet.
The result was the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre and it has become a leader in the field of sustainability in education and eco-tourism.
“We took up 50 hectares of bush on airport land and went to work creating a complex where visitors can see, touch and marvel at a range of renewable energy equipment, learn about its use, look at the stars, and have a meal,” said the boys, whose inspiration came from wanting to help people understand living sustainability. “For a lot of the time we worked as paramedics for the St John Ambulance to raise the money for our dream.”
Ironically, their often dangerous work as Northern Territory paramedics was turned into a series last year when the boys starred in a documentary for the Nine Network called Outback Paramedics.
“The show has already had an audience of a million and the network has a contract for more screenings,” said the brothers. “We were rapt that, apart from showing some of the issues in the town, the documentary also highlighted the beauty of the area and gave it the respect it deserves.”
For brother Dan, in particular, being in the spotlight was quite familiar. As a young man he had played Erinsborough heart throb Rick Alessi for three years in the Network Ten show Neighbours in the early 90’s, before moving to Darwin for a career change.
As champions for the sustainability cause with a passion and knowledge of local ecology and culture, the Falzon brothers take their role seriously while making sure, in typical Aussie spirit, they have fun along the way.
“Without sustainable thinking and practices, we may survive the short term but the long term becomes increasingly uncertain,” said the boys whose motivation is to engage, motivate and inspire social change for a sustainable planet. “Earth Sanctuary has a bold agenda. We want to see the subject of sustainability play a central role in education and tourism for all ages. If society as a whole now considers sustainability to be an integral subject for the future, then this must be proportionately reflected in education and tourism in the present.”
The family’s dream merged with their passion and knowledge for local ecology, culture and astronomy to create a unique tourism business where visitors can experience sustainable technologies from wind and solar energy, water catchment and harvesting, horticulture, waste management and fully-functioning eco-domes.
“Since its inception in 200, Earth Sanctuary has introduced over 17,000 visitors to sustainable technologies, practices and concepts, with over 5,500 visitors recorded in the 2016 financial year,” said the boys, who now run the business with their families and children by their side. Dan and his wife Alana have a little girl. Tom and his wife Anna have a little boy, and oldest brother Ben recently married his partner Michelle in April this year with a huge family celebration.
“We have built the business up to offer award – winning day and evening tours to visitors to the central Australian outback. Our vision is to be Australia’s leading provider of 100% carbon – neutral education, tours and events.”
And as for coming back to the peninsula, the boys and their families try to get to this part of the world as often as possible.
“We still love coming back to the peninsula and it’s great to get near the ocean again. We always loved living near the water but, as it turns out, our destiny was to be in central Australia,” they said.
And it seems the boys have found their true purpose helping people discover the spirit of the outback from their magnificent eco centre, surrounded by red sand as far as the eye can see.
“We are not only teaching about sustainable living but showing people what the outback has to offer with tourists from Australia and overseas,” said the boys who make sure it is an interactive and entertaining tour which outlines the wonderful history and culture of our country. “Whilst our family may indeed move back to Victoria one day, we will continue to focus our energy on the greatest challenge facing humanity, that being climate shift and the need for a truly sustainable planet.”
Surrounded by the central Australian landscape, with thousands of stars as far as the eye can see, the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre is a perfect example of what can be achieved when you follow your dreams.