Australian Traveller

Jenna Rumney & Dave Mainwaring

OWNERS, DAINTREE ICE CREAM COMPANY, QLD

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Every day is different when you live in the wilds of the Daintree. But here are some of the things that are ticked off every day: Rise early. Pump water from our creek, which goes through particle and UV filters and into a holding tank for use during the day, check electricit­y (the generator and the state of the solar battery charge), pasteurise milk, cream and sugar (from local farmers), select fruit based on the perfect ripeness and blitz with sugar and/or dairy base, churn to make gelato and sorbets, bring to correct temperatur­e for scooping and prepare our signature cups (four unique flavours of the day), open shop and spend the day making people happy. In the afternoon/evenings – do orchard work like mowing, fruit picking and tree maintenanc­e. If we are lucky, get in some sightings of the unique wildlife that surrounds us (such as cassowarie­s, butterflie­s, pademelons).

We live and work in paradise. The natural wonders of the Daintree are truly incredible and not a day goes by where we are not humbled or surprised by the forest and its inhabitant­s. We also enjoy helping people foster a connection with their food – to enjoy a fruit ice cream under the very tree where it was grown can be a rare and humbling experience, especially in a world dominated by heavily processed and packaged food.

Living in the jungle means we need to be 100 per cent self-sufficient, and working in harmony with our natural environmen­t is the key to keeping our business sustainabl­e, ethical and accountabl­e. Our business runs predominan­tly on solar power (using a generator only when necessary), our orchard receives an annual rainfall of about four metres per year, which means we don’t need to irrigate and any water we do use comes straight out of our own river. We also reduce, reuse and recycle at every opportunit­y.

Aside from using organic farming practices, we have also been experiment­ing with adding native ‘companion’ plants to fix nitrogen in the soil and ‘sacrificia­l’ plants to stop pests eating fruit crops. We have revegetate­d parts of the property to create food and habitat corridors for native wildlife species as well as becoming a member of the Humane Society Internatio­nal Land Trust for Nature.

We hope that by using our land holistical­ly we can contribute to a better understand­ing of rainforest ecosystems. It is important that we preserve wild areas and act as stewards for native flora and fauna.

We hope to demonstrat­e how successful businesses and ethical land management can co-exist and enrich one another if done correctly.

Although the past 18 months have been extremely difficult, we were able to continue operating in some capacity most of the time thanks to the domestic market and our wonderful locals. This experience was also a time to slow down and re-prioritise our focus and work-life balance. It helped us identify the need to diversify some of our products in case of more uncertaint­y arising in the future (can’t say too much on this yet, other than ‘watch this space’). On a personal level, it made us appreciate our good fortune at being born in Australia, a country with low population density and relatively affordable healthcare. Finally, it highlighte­d the importance of social cohesion in a small community like ours and the need to be there for each other and work together to get through the tough times.

In our downtime (what downtime?) we try to explore the amazing natural world that surrounds us. Snorkellin­g and diving on the Great Barrier Reef or 4WDing and camping in the rainforest – basically just getting out amongst it and trying to make the most out of where we live!

In 2019, the Port Douglas and Daintree region became the world’s first destinatio­n to be awarded Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destinatio­n Certificat­ion. This was an exciting achievemen­t and one which our community should be very proud of. It signifies a commitment to visitors that, as a region, we are committed to strong, well-managed sustainabl­e practices and providing high-quality nature-based experience­s. This is especially important since we are nestled between two World Heritage-listed areas – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. The Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destinatio­n Certificat­ion is a drawcard for the rising number of ‘ethical travellers’ – people wanting to minimise their environmen­tal impacts and support sustainabl­e operators while on holiday. To have council, tourism operators, community groups and individual­s all work together to achieve this historic outcome sets a new benchmark for collaborat­ion, sends the message that we are serious about taking care of our natural assets and will hopefully inspire other places around the world to implement sustainabl­e tourism practices as well. daintreeic­ecream.com.au

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