Reef and Marine Studies – 5 Day Adventure

Marine Science in Paradise

The Great Barrier Reef provides a backdrop rich with opportunities for field-based discovery, and a pilgrimage to this UNESCO World-Heritage site is the dream of every student studying marine science. This educational excursion honours the attraction of the sea. Staying on a tropical island lets you roam the emerald rainforest and discover the wonderous abundance of marine life at the inner reef. A marine biologist introduces you to some of the planet’s greatest biodiversity and presentations by, and interaction with our marine guides adds depth to your marine science studies.

Areas of Learning:

  • Marine science
  • Biology
  • Biodiversity
  • Optional Aboriginal Culture


  • Learn from a marine biologist with mini-lectures and hands-on assignments
  • Set up camp only steps from the water on a lush tropical island
  • Visit a turtle rehabilitation centre
  • Meet expert marine scientists at James Cook University
  • Plunge into a dazzling show of colour and life at the outer Great Barrier Reef
  • Contribute to ongoing efforts in reef health monitoring
  • OPTION: Learn from an Aboriginal Ranger about managing sea country
  • OPTION: Participate in a community service project that helps the reef

Benefits & Bonuses:

  • All accommodation, meals, guides and transport to activities included
  • Risk assessment provided
  • Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
  • Expert marine biologists as your instructors
  • We cater to student special diets and swimming levels
  • Goodies! Water bottle, field guide, cloth shopping bag and a donation made to the turtle rehab centre in your name
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN – This trip is fully customisable.  Ask us for details!


Day 1: Arrive in Cairns, James Cook University Marine Labs and Future of the Reef Presentation

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns, James Cook University Marine Labs and Future of the Reef Presentation

Arrival in Cairns: On arrival you are met by a Small World Journeys staff member and given a brief orientation on what to expect and a safety talk. (Plan to arrive by noon today)

Marine Science Seminar: Next you head to James Cook University for a marine-focused seminar. JCU is Australia’s highest-ranked university in environmental science and offers marine biology studies not found anywhere else.  Today you have the opportunity to engage with world leading researchers and equipment.

Expert Speaker:  Speaker may include famous venomologist Dr. Jamie Seymour, whose recent discovery that vinegar is not the best treatment for jellyfish stings has turned science on its head or Richard Fitzpatrick – “the shark wrangler” – a marine biologist and Emmy Award-winning cinematographer with more than 50 films for the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Marine Labs & Aquarium:  Popular with film crews, the marine labs at JCU boast one of the world’s best sites for capturing marine creatures on camera.  Sophisticated equipment placed in the tanks allows for observing and filming animal behaviour up close. Additionally, JCU’s unique circular tank allows for a simulated current and the careful study of jellyfish. You meet staff who are on the cutting edge of marine science research, learn how they “milk” fish for venom, and about the latest findings in the development of anti-venoms.

Venomous Creatures & Mangrove Biome: Here you meet unusual and deadly creatures such as sea horses, baby crocodiles, cone shells, the lethal chironex jellyfish, and the extremely rare lung fish, found in captivity only at JCU. The cast members of Finding Nemo live here too.  You also investigate a working model of a mangrove biome, an important tool for studying effects on water quality and salinity as well as climate change mitigation. Perhaps most importantly today, in a controlled environment you closely view elements of the underwater world with which you will be interacting over the next few days.

Accommodation: Your accommodation is at a comfortable hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. The hostel is committed to sustainability and even has their own herb garden for guests use! A lush swimming pool and spa, and large common areas, the hostel also features free internet in common areas and air conditioning in each room.

Future of The Reef Presentation: In the evening back in Cairns you attend a unique presentation on the future of the Great Barrier Reef.  Your marine naturalist teaches you the facts about the state of the reef, dispelling myths about bleaching and climate change, and relays the good, the bad and the ugly about reef tourism. During this talk, you learn the four key threats to the reef and how scientists are trying “assisted evolution” by breeding corals that are resistant to bleaching under higher temperatures.  Perhaps most importantly, you gain ten tips on how you yourselves can help save the reef and continue campaigning when you return home.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Marine Science, Data Collection and Snorkelling on Fitzroy Island/Inner Great Barrier Reef

Day 2: Marine Science, Data Collection and Snorkelling on Fitzroy Island/Inner Great Barrier Reef

Boat Ride: This morning you are ferried to the pristine Fitzroy Island. A fringing coral reef surrounds the island, part of the inner Great Barrier Reef, providing a sheltered home for a variety of fish and coral species.

Marine Science and Snorkelling:  Your marine biologist first teaches you some of the basic fish and coral types you will be observing in the water. Then with your snorkel gear you take to the water to experience the reef for yourselves.

You swim along with your marine biologist who leads you to underwater examples of some of the reef’s most interesting features.  You can expect to see among other things giant clams, gentle turtles, spaghetti coral that waves in the current, lion fish, cuttle fish, colourful coral gardens and fluorescent parrot fish.  Your marine biologist facilitates discussions on observations, and post-snorkel talks can include, but are not limited to:  coral biology, fish populations and behaviour, invertebrates, endangered species, coral predators and threats to the reef, human impacts on the reef and climate change.

Water Quality Testing:  After lunch, you learn to measure water quality using chemical tests. Small World Journeys collects these tallies from each group that visits Fitzroy Island so we can log this data, analyse the results over time, and look for any long term trends.

CoralWatch Data Collection:  In the afternoon you engage in an activity that addresses concerns over climate change and coral bleaching. During this exercise you find out more about how and why coral bleaches.  You learn how to identify different kinds of coral, match its colours to a waterproof chart, and then record what you observe in teams of two.  The data then goes back to the University of Queensland’s Coral Watch scientists, where they analyse the results over time and look for any long term trends. Your results also go into a database to track bleaching around the world, and your group receives a graph of your results.

Reef Restoration Project Overview: Reef Restoration Foundation is a not for profit social enterprise that is establishing offshore nurseries at Fitzroy Island. The project aim is to accelerate the recovery of damaged reefs, and strengthen resilience to future bleaching events. The process mimics nature and allows damaged reefs to re-open faster. Today you are given an overview of how the project has been established at the island and the success story so far. Small World Journeys has sponsored one of the ‘coral trees’ that is a part of the coral nursery, and is proud to be involved with this first of breakthrough solution within Australia.

Camping at Water’s Edge: Your campground is beautifully situated only steps from the water where you set up your tents.  There is a BBQ and covered pergola area for eating an ablutions block with toilets and cold showers.  There is also a small store and Foxy’s Café which offers a games area and music.

Accommodation: Island Camping (equipment provided)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (student prepared with food provided)

Day 3: Optional Island Hike, Snorkelling the Reef and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Day 3: Optional Island Hike, Snorkelling the Reef and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Lighthouse Hike: This morning if you feel like a challenge with your guide you can walk a gorgeous but steep rainforest track that gives way to dry open forest and scenic vistas. At trail’s end stands a historic lighthouse where views of the sparkling Coral Sea stretch to the horizon.

Snorkelling and Species Identification: You continue with your snorkeling adventures with your marine biologist. Using the waterproof coral reef creatures tiles help you identify a host of hard and soft corals as well as the differences between fish families such as butterfly, bat, and angelfish. 

Turtle Rehabilitation Centre: During your visit you also visit the island’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre where a collection of volunteers help save sick and injured sea turtles by looking after them until they are ready to be released back into the ocean.

Swimming and Marine Trampoline:  At the end of  the day, you may love to go for a swim, bounce on the giant marine trampoline, or try out a paddle board in the shallow Welcome Bay.

Great Barrier Reef Field Guide: Included in your trip is a field guide 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef written by our guide Dr. Martin Cohen to better understand the underwater world.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4: Outer Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling, Data Collection and Marine Science with Marine Biologist

Day 4: Outer Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling, Data Collection and Marine Science with Marine Biologist

Boat Ride to Reef: Your day begins with an air-conditioned catamaran ride to the outer Great Barrier Reef.  Your marine biologist presents what you are likely to see at the reef and introduces the Eye on the Reef program, which involves instruction on how to complete the Rapid Monitoring Survey.

Data Collection & Service: Next you receive in-water training on how to conduct the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Rapid Monitoring Survey. Your marine guide will point out key features of the reef ecosystem, answer any questions, and conduct a practice survey with group. Then during a timed snorkel session, you record your underwater findings.  Your guide and waterproof slates help you identify a host of marine life and calculate benthic zone coverage. Most importantly, you look for signs of coral bleaching and coral predators which greatly affect the health of the reef.  Your data is then collected and contributes to the central reporting system used by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to manage the long term sustainability of this UNESCO World Heritage area.

Other Activities: Semi-submarine and glass bottom boat tours, underwater observatory, and marine life touch tank are all available for you to enjoy. The double-storey pontoon also has something that no one else does….. a long and fun slide that finishes in the waters of the reef. Lunch today is a tropical buffet served on the boat.

Each student receives a certificate of participation at the end of the day.

Sightings App: Before the trip, we’ll also give you information about downloading an app with which you can log in sightings of reef fauna and flora and your data is then sent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

Whale Watching: If you join this trip in June-July, you may be lucky enough to interact with the inquisitive Dwarf Minke Whales that migrate here in the winter.  Minkes display some extraordinary behaviour such as lifting their heads out of the water to observe boats and people. Often they are seen tail-slapping the water, which may be an acoustic signal to other whales in the vicinity. Humpback Whales are also seen on the Reef in the winter months.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: OPTIONAL Aboriginal Ranger Talk or Community Service Project for The Reef and Departure

Day 5: OPTIONAL Aboriginal Ranger Talk or Community Service Project for The Reef and Departure

After breakfast this morning you have free time for last-minute shopping.

OPTIONAL Aboriginal Ranger Talk (Add this on first or last day):  Learn some of the ways Traditional Owners have SUSTAINABLY managed both marine and terrestrial environments during a talk by a Yirrganydji ranger.  He speaks about traditional use of marine resources, agreements relating to “sea country” (TUMRAs), and the significance of totems and being stewards of the Great Barrier Reef. (By request, extra cost)

– OR –

OPTIONAL Service Project for the Reef:  The second project involves working together to protect waterways, ocean and reef.  By stencilling messages on drains, you contribute to raising awareness of urban stormwater pollution and its impact on the local marine environment.   The colourful and creative designs are a pleasant way to remind the community that all rubbish drains to the ocean. (By request, extra cost)

Later you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.

Included: Breakfast

Is this marine science-focused program too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!

 School Excursion Fees Include:

  • Cairns airport transfers
  • Marine naturalist/biologist guide on Days 2-4
  • All activities and entrance fees as described in the itinerary
  • Transportation to activities
  • 3 nights at Cairns budget accommodation (6 share dorm rooms with private bathroom)*
  • 1 night island camping (toilets and cold showers available)
  • Tents, sleeping pads and sleeping bags
  • All cooking equipment for island
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners
  • 101 Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each student
  • Coral adoption through Reef Restoration Foundation with updates on the progress of the coral
  • Mask, fins, and snorkel hire on Fitzroy Island and outer reef trip
  • Marine Park taxes & levies
  • A reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag

*Two teacher rooms (private twin or triple share rooms with ensuite) are included in the trip price.  A supplement of $138 AUD is charged if an additional private room is required. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred. 

School Excursion Fees Exclude:

  • Airfare to Cairns
  • Personal expenses (phone, laundry, etc.)


  • Optional service project for the reef (ask us for pricing)
  • Optional Aboriginal ranger to speak about sea country (ask us for pricing)

Land Cost to 31 March 2020:

  • 15+ participants: $1085 AUD
  • 10-14 participants: $1120 AUD

(*add $50 pp for premium travel season between 15 June – 15 July)


All accommodation is included. In Cairns, you stay at a comfortable hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. The hostel is committed to sustainability and even has their own herb garden for guests use! A lush swimming pool and spa, and large common areas, the hostel also features free internet in common areas and air conditioning in each room. On Fitzroy Island, your island dreams come true! You are provided with a tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag you set up camp on the luxuriant shore of this tropical island. Don’t worry – toilets, cold showers, a small general store and a games area keep you comfortable.


All meals are included. Meals are a combination of restaurant dinners, ship-prepared meals and ones you prepare yourselves on the island (we provide you with the yummy food). A typical breakfast is a selection of cereals, toast, juice and fruits; lunches are combinations of sandwiches and salads with fruits and a sweet, and dinners are a sample of buffets and BBQs, pastas and pizzas. Ask us about vegetarian, kosher and halal options.

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.



  1. Read our Terms & Conditions and tell us you want to come.
  2. Pay a $200 AUD deposit for the group (not per person – just a flat $200 to secure your booking) via our payment page or by direct deposit/cheque.
  3. Receive a link from us to your special web page that has an electronic booking forms, waivers to e-sign, and more information about the trip.
  4. Have each student sign up via this link and pay you (the teacher) no later than 60 days prior to the trip. You then submit whole payment to us at 60 days.
  5. Enjoy your trip!


Question 1: What happens when we arrive at the airport?

Answer: You will be met by a Small World Journeys staff member who will give you an orientation and then accompany you to your accommodation or first activity. Please note if you select flights that arrive or depart outside of the hours requested we can not guarentee supervision, or a staff memeber to meet you until the requested times.

Question 2: When is the best time to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef?

Answer: Cairns is a tropical place, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit. In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Autumn (March - May) brings unpredictable weather - it can be warm and rainy or hot and sunny. Springtime (September - November) is the most predicable, and days tend to be warm to hot with little rainfall. The visbility at the Great Barrier Reef is at its best September - November, but can be enjoyed year-round. Come June - September for seasonal whale watching.  

Question 3: What if I wish to SCUBA dive (intro or certified)?

Answer: Medical standards differ from country to country, certain medication / medical conditions may preclude you from diving in Australia (EVEN IF YOU ARE ALREADY CERTIFIED)

Certified Diving

If you are a certified diver, you will still be asked to fill out and sign an Advice to Divers Form. To be "certified" means you have taken a course (typically about 4 days long) and you now hold an Open Water Diver certification card from PADI, SSI, NAUI or other internationally recognized SCUBA diving organisation. If you answer Yes to any of the questions below, further medical clearance may be required. (This must be organised at least the day before your trip start date). In some circumstances you may be able to dive, with a certified professional (dive guide), at an additional cost.
Sample Medical Questionnaire For Certified Divers
  • Are you currently suffering from any illness or injury? Yes or No
  • Are you currently taking any prescription medication (excluding oral contraceptives) Yes or No
  • Since your last dive medical have you suffered from any conditions that may affect your fitness to dive? Yes or No

Introductory Diving

Intro Diving is also called "resort diving". You can do this kind of diving with a dive instructor even if you are not certified (see above). Doing an Intro Dive does NOT certify you to dive on your own in other places. If you are doing an introductory dive on a live aboard or day boat, you will be asked to fill out and sign a medical form. This form can be emailed to you prior to your trip if you are interested in Intro Diving. If you answer YES to any of the medical questions (for example, do you have asthma or take medication for migraines?) further medical clearance may be required. This must be arranged PRIOR to day of departure.

Question 4: Do we need to worry about jellyfish?

Answer: The box jellyfish are present in the northern coastal waters from November to April/May. The jellyfish are found close to shore—they breed in estuaries and very very rarely can they make it to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Most of the swimming beaches have “stinger nets” up during this season so people can swim. However, the tiny Irukandji jellyfish has been known on occasion to slip through the nets, and this is most often where people have been stung. It is a very painful sting, but there have been only 2 confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji jellyfish. The good news is that the jellyfish are rarely found at the outer Great Barrier Reef, where you will be snorkeling and/or diving. Most people swim on the reef without using any protection. According to the CRC Reef Research Centre, “In offshore waters around coral reefs, box jellyfish that cause Irukandji syndrome are usually well dispersed and the incidence of stings is very small.” Nonetheless, reef operators have “stinger suits” as well as wetsuits as an extra precaution.

Question 5: What happens if a student cancels?

Answer: If an individual student cancels from a trip within 30 days of the trip departure, no refunds are given. For this reason, we strongly encourage all parents to purchase trip cancellation insurance in order to protect against unforeseen circumstances which are the main cause for student cancellations. For more details, please see our Terms & Conditions.

Question 6: What is your safety record?

Answer: Our safety record is outstanding. Please ask us for teacher/supervisor references specifically regarding our safety measures and practices.  We do risk assessments for every excursion we run. We carry a first aid kit in our vehicles, as well as on the guide's person when in remote areas.  All guides are certified in first aid and CPR.  We give every student  a card with emergency numbers and safety information on it to carry, and we review safety measures as part of our orientation. Safety is absolutely our number one concern at all times. We do everything in our power to make sure each trip is as safe as it can possibly be.

Question 7: Do you do risk assessments?

Answer: Yes. We evaluate and re-evaluate the safety of each of our destinations and activities, and we always reserve the right to modify or cancel an itinerary if the guide feels that conditions are unsafe. We will gladly provide a risk management assessment specific to your trip on request. Small World Journeys' staff also adhere to a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy.

Question 8: Why should we purchase travel insurance?

Answer: We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance for your protection. Should a participant need to cancel their trip for any reason, our cancellation policy applies. However, travel insurance protects any loss they may experience should s/he or an immediate family member become ill or sustain an injury that prevents them from going on the trip.

Question 9: What makes Small World Journeys "eco-friendly"?

Answer: An eco tour, in our opinion, is a trip in which everyone benefits: the community, the environment, you and us. Simply by joining one of our trips, you will be supporting carbon offsetting, Rainforest Rescue's Adopt-A-Square initiative, aboriginal cultural ventures and locally-owned businesses who are working towards a more sustainable future in tourism. As our guest, you are supporting us as well. Thank you! For more information, see 10 Ways We're ''Sustainable''.

Question 10: How does Small World Journeys incorporate our educational objectives?

Answer: We work directly with the teacher organiser or group leader to understand the goals of the trip. Then we suggest activities and learning opportunities to match these objectives. For example, a group may be interested in learning more about marine biology. In this case we will facilitate some fun classroom time dedicated to marine science in Cairns, then a couple of days at the Great Barrier Reef with our marine biologist guide. We can include such things as waterproof fish and coral ID cards for each student, and mini-lectures after snorkel time. A SCUBA certification course may also be appropriate. Alternatively, we might suggest a few days at an island research station, during which students have classroom and snorkel time, as well as a service project monitoring coral bleaching on the reef. Whether it is marine science, aboriginal culture, rainforest ecology or another topic, we will work with each group to ensure an educational yet fun experience for all.

School Marine Science Excursion – Experience Education on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef makes for the perfect classroom and this trip combines inner reef environments off the coast of a continental island with 2 days on the outer reef aboard a live aboard boat. During this trip your students will gain a feeling for the enormity and complexity of the largest living organism on the planet while snorkeling, scuba diving (optional) and exploring the coastline. With your marine biologist on hand we cater the content to suit your students- whether they are university level or high school and depending on the topics they are currently studying.

  • Participate in marine focused sessions on Fitzory Island
  • Listen to expert marine scientist and professors at James Cook university
  • Experience snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Learn about the management and protection of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Understand how humans and climate change are affecting the reef

Educational Outcomes: NSW Stage 6 Geography

Marine Science Seminar: H1, H2 This two hour seminar is a fantastic introduction to marine systems and the creatures at the Great Barrier Reef. Your entertaining presenters will teach you loads of fun facts to make your students appreciate their time at the reef that much more!

Fitzroy Island: H1, H2, H5 On your day trip to Fitzroy Island you will be able to closely examine the inner Great Barrier Reef. The island is a continental island that was once attached to the mainland. At the end of the last ice-age sea levels rose creating Fitzroy Island and the fringing reef that surrounds it. You can snorkel right off the beach and go in search of marine life. The island is also a national park and covered in rainforest walking tracks. You also have the opportunity to visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and see management strategies in action while contributing to the worthwhile cause.

Outer Reef LTrip: H1, H2, H5 No trip to Cairns would be complete without a trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef. On this day trip you will have full access to snorkel gear to explore the outer reef system. You can look for indicators of reef health and examine the factors that place eco-systems at risk. You can also use your reef operator as an example of how management strategies are being put in place to help protect the reef.

Marine Biologist Guide: H6, H7, H8, H10 You are accompanied by our marine biologist and you will have a reef expert on hand to answer your questions. Your day can also be designed to incorporate fieldwork and geographic skills including fish and coral identification, reef health and diversity through the use of different data collection techniques. The data collected can then be taken back to the class room where it can be analysed and synthesised for a geographical enquiry.

Australian National Curriculum- Geography

Year 10 Unit 1: Environmental Change and Management:

  • ACHGK070: The human- induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability.
  • ACHGK071: the environmental worldviews of people and their implications for environmental management.
  • ACHGK073: The application of human-environment systems thinking to understanding the causes and likely consequences of the environmental change being investigated.
  • ACHGK074: The application of geographical concepts and methods to the management of the environment change being investigated.
  • ACHGK075: The application of environmental economic and social criteria in evaluating management responses to the change.

Year 8 Unit 1- Landforms and Landscapes:

  • ACHGK048: The different types of landscapes and their distinctive landform features.
  • ACHGK050: The geomorphic processes that produce landforms including a case study of at least one landform.
  • ACHGK051: the human causes and effects of landscape degradation.
  • ACHGK052: The ways of protecting significant landscapes.
  • ACHGK053: The causes impacts and responses to a geomorphological hazard.

Australian National Curriculum- Cross Curriculum Priorities

Sustainability: Your trip with Small World Journeys will be carbon neutral and students will receive an introductory talk on how our business and their trip are eco-friendly and ways they can contribute by participating in more eco-friendly practises. In addition the operators used by SWJ are chosen based on their eco-friendly practises.

  • OI.1 A visit to the Great Barrier Reef is an excellent example of how the biosphere is a dynamic system providing conditions that sustain life on Earth. As the world’s largest living organism, stretching over 2000km along Queensland’s coastline and home to 1500 fish species along with corals, molluscs, sea birds, turtles and whales all of which depend on a delicate balance in the biosphere to sustain the ecosystem.
  • OI.2 Students will see how all life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival. The population along the Queensland coastline depends on the Great Barrier Reef for a number of reasons including the funds provided to the economy through tourism, fishing and marine transport. The health of the reef also has a very strong connection with terrestrial activities like mining and agriculture which further demonstrate. In the animal world migratory species like whales depend on the well being of the reefs warm winter waters for their offspring before they head to the Antarctic ecosystems for the summer.]
  • OI.3 Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems. During your trip your students will be able to discuss what it means to live sustainably as an individual and as a member of a bigger community to ensure that while it is necessary to look after the environment, it is also important to ensure that social and economic needs are also being met.
  • OI.6 By visiting the Cairns region students learn that the sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future. There is a very high awareness in Cairns that the health of the ecosystems on our doorstep are fundamental to the social and economic success of the region. With the primary industry in the area being tourism and hospitality, most of the population relies in some way on the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropical Rainforests. Because of this there is strong individual and community action that seeks to sustain the quality of life for all in the region with a focus on the health of our ecosystems.
  • OI.7 Your students will explore and gain a better understanding of the environments in the Cairns region. Through this exploration they will see how the actions towards a more sustainable future reflect the values of care, respect and responsibility of the population and what is being done to educate visitors to the region so that same sense of responsibility towards the environment is felt.
  • OI.8 During their trip students will learn about past practises in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and look at scientific developments and balanced judgements based on projected future economic, social and environmental impacts. With your guide you will discuss the impacts of things like development which are necessary for economic growth but can potentially threaten the reef. You will also learn about environmental impacts like tropical cyclones on the health of the reef.
  • OI.9 Students will learn about GBRMPA and the factors that led to World Heritage listing of the Great Barrier Reef. The sustainable future of this ecosystem is the result of actions designed to preserve the quality and uniqueness of environments. Students will also learn about the threats to the reef and what future actions are being established to restore areas damaged by cyclones, crown of thorns starfish, overfishing and pollution.

How your trip supports the community

SUPPORTING  INDIGENOUS CULTURE: We acknowledge  Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People as the first inhabitants of Australia and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and our groups travel. Your trip includes activities and interaction with local Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land on which you are traveling. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture. It is our policy to include a talk or an activity with an Aboriginal person on every trip we offer. We are proud to say that in the financial year of 2017-18, we gave over $34,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures. Additionally, our new student community service project involves students in making “Moon Sick Care Bags” which supply re-usable sanitary products to Aboriginal women in remote communities — this helps both Indigenous women AND the environment! (Ask us how your group can do this on their tour)

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: On this educational tour, we use locally owned accommodation, restaurants, and suppliers whenever possible to keep income in the community. This includes supporting farmers by purchasing locally-grown fruits and vegetables for you on your trip. We also give you a list of where to buy locally-made crafts and souvenirs so you can continue this support as well.  In 2017-18, three quarters of our expenses were paid back into the local economy.

SUPPORTING LOCAL HOMELESS & NEEDY PEOPLE: We make both financial and in-kind donations to Rosie’s Friends on The Street, a Cairns-based charity. Rosie’s seeks to provide homeless people and people living rough a hot meal, conversation and a non-judgemental human connection.  Small World Journeys’ staff also volunteer on Rosie’s outreach nights, and many of our students have made comfort packs for Rosie’s patrons! For more information on Rosie’s and other organisations to which we donate, see Philanthropy and Partnerships or ask us how you can incorporate community service with Rosie’s into your educational excursion.

How your trip is “Eco-friendly”

HELPING THE REEF: In addition to the coral tree we sponsor, we pay to “adopt” coral at Fitzroy Island through our partner Reef Restoration Foundation.  The coral propagation happening there is unprecedented and is being celebrated as a significant project to help save the reef. Each of our groups that visit the reef receives a certificate on the tour and later receive updates on the coral.

ADOPTING A RAINFOREST PLOT IN YOUR NAME: We pay to have a 5-square metre plot of rainforest is adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue. On your excursion, your group will be presented with a certificate detailing the significance of this gift to the environment.

REDUCING WASTE: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags. By reducing our need for plastic bags and bottles, we avoid having these things go into landfills or into the tummies of our native animals. We also recycle BOTH our hard plastics and soft plastics, and our trip snack wrappers get broken down and made into other things! For more information on how we donate to The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and other environmental groups, see Philanthropy and Partnership.

OUR OFFICE IS RUN ON SOLAR POWER: Our future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.

CARBON OFFSETTING: We calculate our company’s carbon emissions. Then we pay Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offset your emissions by investing in environmental and community-based projects. In 2018 we offset 76.72 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide! For more information about our carbon offsetting, see 10 Ways We’re ”Sustainable”.

How your trip is safety-oriented

REFERENCES:  We have had hundreds of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent.  Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

VEHICLES: All of our vehicles are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law, we feel your safety is a priority.  Our guides do safety checks at the start of each day of the trip. In addition, vehicles go through a Department of Transport safety inspection every six months.

RISK ASSESSMENT: We do a risk assessment for every student tour we run. That risk assessment then gets sent to the organising teacher. We have safety protocols for our activities and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual that documents these protocols. We also have a complete Crisis Management Plan. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during orientation that addresses hazards and risks for this region.

GUIDES AND SAFETY: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card). For more information on our guides, see The Small World Journeys Team.