Wild for the outdoors

19 May 2020

Wild for the outdoors

Spending time at home over the past few months has shrunk the distance we venture from the front door. Despite this challenge, the pandemic has also created new pathways into exploring the natural world beyond Tasmania’s borders.

In 2016, Google Arts and Culture partnered with the USA’s National Parks Services to create a 360 degree experience of five US national parks. Using the compass icon or your mouse or track pad gives you control of how far you ‘walk’, ‘fly’ or ‘peer’ down through the landscapes. Go on a glacier tour and climb into a crevasse at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, or fly over Hawaii’s volcanos. Beyond these five parks, you can explore Mawson’s Hut in Antarctica or get lost in space exploration.

There are many individuals, parks, gardens, organisations and nationally managed sites of significance sharing stories and experiences. You might just be surprised at what you can find through digital exploration, try searching online for ‘virtual tour’ and then the name of the place you want to visit. With the renewed focus on making more places accessible to those unable to make the trip, now is a great time to see what’s out there.

Here’s some things you can check out on a lazy Sunday couch potato afternoon:

  • Yellowstone National Park’s website includes virtual walks to some of the main attractions around the park, or you can watch a live video stream of Old Faithful Geyser.
  • Head to Virtual Yosemite for an in depth experience of the park, or ‘climb’ El Capitan.
  • Virtual tours of the Grand Canyon are also available from the US National Parks Service website.
  • The tourism body for Wales in the UK has uploaded short videos of its parks, countryside and walking trails.
  • Take a virtual tour of the northern lights in Lapland with a day in Abisko National Park
  • The AirPiano website has a host of 360 degree photos and video from around the world, including Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the Milky Way above the Sahara Desert, and feeding of sharks in Fiji.
  • The Pacific Crest Trail along the west coast of the USA travels from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada passing through national forests, parks, deserts and mountain ranges. It usually takes someone on foot five months to complete. This video compacts the length of the one person’s experience into three minutes to give you a peak into what the hiker experiences.
  • Explore Everest’s south base camp in Nepal, at an altitude of 5,380 metres, with interactive 360-degree views of snowy peaks and colourful prayer flags. Via an interactive map a 3D rotating viewer.
  • Visit the Giant’s Causeway. It is a geometric wonder on the coastline of Northern Ireland formed by an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. The National Trust has created a series of virtual tours that take you on a fascinating journey.
  • Get inside an active volcano through this short interactive film that follows an exploration team preparing to abseil into the third terrace of Benbow, a main vent of the Ambryn volcano in Vanuatu.