Meet Inala Nature Tours
Inala Nature Tours is a family owned tour operator offering their travellers the chance to experience the unforgettable magic of Australia, through the design and delivery of personalised birding and wildlife tours for over 23 years.
The story of how a tour operator comes to be is often one fueled by a passion for travel and adventure. For this unique tour operator, however, the story begins with a passion for wildlife preservation. In fact, Inala Nature Tours founder, Dr. Tonia Cochran, never expected to be in the tourism industry, her remarkable journey into tourism began with a PhD in Zoology.
From the age of 10, Tonia’s enthrallment with Australian wildlife and the environment was abundantly obvious. It was not uncommon for Tonia to bring orphaned or injured native animals, spiders, and reptiles into her home, offering them shelter and a chance to rehabilitate. It was a natural step for Tonia to go on to study a Bachelor of Science in Botany and Zoology, achieving Honors and PhD degrees in Zoology.
Following her studies, Tonia moved to Inala, a 1500 acre property on Bruny Island, off the south-east coast of Tasmania. Inala sits on the foothills of Mount Mangana and has a wonderfully complex blend of open pasture, wetlands, heathland, wet and dry eucalypt forest, all working together to provide a rich habitat for the local flora and fauna. It is here that Tonia’s conservation efforts flourished and her devotion to restoring the population of some of the countries most endangered bird species developed.
Inala is home to 12 Tasmanian endemic birds, including the rare and highly endangered Forty Spotted Pardalote, affectionately called the ‘Forty Spot’. In an effort to preserve this special species and other endangered species such as the Swift Parrot, Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, white morph Grey Goshawk and Masked Owl, Tonia placed a conservation covenant on the Inala property; the first step in ensuring the birds and other wildlife populations could begin to replenish at Inala.
In 1994, Tonia wanted to end her weekly commute from the South of Bruny Island to the largest city in Tasmania, Hobart, where she was working as a marine biologist. Tonia finished her work in Hobart to pursue a more permanent life on Bruny Island. To supplement the income made from her farming activities at Inala, Tonia began offering accommodation in the original farm cottage on her beloved property. She quickly found her guests were keen to be shown the birds and wildlife during their stays; it was her visitors’ receptiveness to her conservation efforts that planted the seed that soon became Inala Nature Tours.
Sparky the orphaned Quoll
Tonia promoted the property to local nature-based groups and after publishing a paper on the Forty Spot, bird enthusiasts were quick to come, relishing the unique opportunity to closely view these rare birds, along with the other endangered birds that had made Inala their home. As a result of her work on Bruny Island, Tonia has become recognised as an expert on Tasmania’s native birds, in particular, the Forty Spot, a bird that is held dearly by the entire Inala team. Naturally, the growth in interest and recognition that Tonia’s work has received meant that Inala quickly became a must for environmentalists, animal enthusiasts and travellers with an interest in nature and sustainability.
Through founding Inala Nature Tours, Tonia also committed to promoting educational and ecologically sustainable tourism. Inala’s team of experts uphold leading industry standards, which in turn, ensures their travellers have greater knowledge and respect for the protection and conservation of the environment that they are exploring.
Inala Nature Tours has become increasingly popular with knowledgeable birdwatchers worldwide. Geographically, the Inala property is perfectly situated for optimum birdwatching; nestled on beautiful Bruny Island, which is classified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area boasting over 150 bird species, 95 of which can be found on the Inala property.
Since those early days when Dr Cochran started taking guests on guided tours of her Inala property the demand for tours has grown exponentially. Inala Nature Tours now organises bird and wildlife tours around Australia and more recently internationally, as far afield as Antarctica.
Inala has successfully tapped into the lucrative birdwatching industry through developing a local, national and international reputation for providing tours which focus on their guest’s particular interests. But what really sets this nature tour operator apart is their highly regarded, passionate and knowledgeable guides together with their exceptional customer service.
While Inala Nature Tours is Tonia’s brainchild, she is quick to commend her fabulous team, who she says are the key to the businesses success, “The success of the business is a team effort and I am blessed with wonderful dedicated staff that are part of our Inala family,” she said.
Their Tourwriter story
After more than 20 years of growing her tour company, the need to adopt bespoke software became unavoidable. In 2017, Tonia came to Tourwriter with a desire to reduce the amount of time her team spent creating tailor-made itineraries using Word and Excel.
A flock of Terns
Before embracing tour operator software many businesses find themselves using several different solutions to create and book an itinerary to the standard that are commensurate with their high level of customer service. This was all too true for the Inala team, “Before Tourwriter we were using several different forms of software and there were many stages required to process a booking,” explained Inala Nature Guide, Cat Davidson. With Tourwriter the entire process is managed in one system, freeing up the dedicated team to focus their time on designing tailor-made itineraries. “Tourwriter has helped us streamline an increasingly busy and complex operation,” added Davidson.
Forty Spotted Pardalote
The reality is that Inala Nature Tours is an exceptionally unique tour operator. Owning the property where their tours are hosted has allowed the team to develop a purpose built office onsite, a Forty Spotted Pardalote viewing platform, raptor viewing and photography facilities as well as a 5 acre Jurassic garden and a natural history museum. “We are more than an accommodation provider, we are more than a garden and museum destination, we are more than a tour company and we are more than a travel agent,” explained Davidson.
The complexity of Inala Nature Tours meant they needed a software solution which would fit the many precincts that they occupy whilst also helping the team streamline their busy and complex operation. “[with Tourwriter] it is much simpler to assign tasks, for all member of the team to discover necessary information about tours, clients and suppliers and for us all to have a greater confidence that tasks will not accidentally slip through the cracks,” said Davidson. “I can honestly say that we could not survive without Tourwriter now, given the complexity and scope of this growing business,” said Tonia.
Exceptional customer service is a value that is extremely important to the entire Inala team, and Tourwriter’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality has helped the team uphold their exceptional customer service while they scale up their operations. “The customer cards, the various services provided by our service providers and the ability to have a task list that keeps many complex itineraries on track.”
One of the many facets of this incredible tour operator company is their foundation, The Inala Foundation. This very worthy charity was set up by Tonia with a vision to use funds raised to help fund projects for the continuation of species protection, Tourwriter is proud to be supporting such a passionate and worthy cause.
Orphaned Wallabies being cared for at Inala