Community Service & Sustainability – 9 Day Adventure

Community Service Projects and Sustainability Learning in One Fun Trip

Sustainability is about helping the planet as well as people. In Australia’s far north, you participate in community service projects and witness sustainability ventures in many forms: a bio-dynamic dairy farm, a self-sustaining aquaponics system, a grassroots Indigenous tourism business, a wildlife rescue centre and an “eco” sailboat to the reef.  You get to actively protect some of the planet’s best biodiversity on this service learning trip.

You experience natural areas–such as snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef or doing service work in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest–that are celebrated for their biodiversity and are protected because of their ecological importance. You also learn from other sources like sustainable boat tour operators and Aboriginal elders the significance of sustainability and community involvement in their business ventures. Your guide provides insight into your surroundings and leads discussions throughout. A presentation from a rainforest researcher and Small World Journeys’ owner and a debate about a highly controversial environmental issue rounds out your sustainability studies. You also plant native trees, help the homeless, monitor a rainforest revegetation project AND the reef as a way to  leave the area a bit better than when you arrived.

Areas of Learning:

  • Community Service
  • Sustainability
  • Aquaponics
  • Marine Science
  • Aboriginal Culture


  • Presentations by researchers, scientists and/or James Cook University professors
  • Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and collecting coral bleaching data
  • Visits to a wind farm, bio-dynamic dairy and a university research station
  • Local controversial environmental issue debate
  • Outback farmstay
  • Discovering the Daintree Rainforest & medicinal plants with an Aboriginal elder
  • Learning solutions to global food security through aquaponics and how to make a mini-system at home
  • Service work planting trees, monitoring a revegetation site, and making a meal for homeless people

Benefits & Bonuses:

  • All accommodation, meals, guides and transport to activities included
  • We plan everything–making it easy for you
  • Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
  • Expert local guides – not “bus drivers”
  • We cater to student special diets and swimming levels
  • Goodies! Water bottle, field guide, cloth shopping bag and rainforest plot adopted in your name
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN – This trip is fully customisable. Ask us for details!
Day 1: Arrival, Orientation and Sustainability Workshop

Day 1: Arrival, Orientation and Sustainability Workshop

Flight to Cairns Welcome to the tropics! You are met at the airport by one of our staff and given a safety talk and orientation on what to expect on your trip.

Sustainability Workshop: First activity today is a workshop to explore students’ perceptions of sustainability, facilitated by Small World Journeys’ owner, Laurie Pritchard.  During this interactive session you discover what we can learn from casinos, cruise ships and cavemen, and how gorillas are setting an example of sustainable tourism. Topics  range from the three pillars of sustainability, to the world’s number one problem to how your little actions make a difference.  A game-show activity also introduces thought-provoking concepts as well as plenty of laughs.

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.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Tree Planting Service Project, Bio-Dynamic Dairy Tour, Wind Farm, and Outback Cattle Station

Day 2: Tree Planting Service Project, Bio-Dynamic Dairy Tour, Wind Farm, and Outback Cattle Station

Native Tree Planting: Your first community service project is planting native trees. With your guide you discuss loss of biodiversity and habitats for a range of species due to agriculture or development. Then with shovels and gloves, you plant native trees to moderate temperature and humidity and to create niches for other plants and animals. This area is a ‘hotspot’ for biodiversity, so your service work here is helping to protect a buffer zone to a World Heritage area. By working with seedlings, digging, planting, and watering today, you get to meet some local volunteers, help the environment and contribute to the community.

Bio-Dynamic Dairy Farm and Making Butter: Next you learn what it means for farmers to “go beyond organic” by applying a diligent set of practices to the land. At a forward-thinking dairy farm, you learn how biodynamics—one of the first sustainable agriculture movements—accounts for ecological, social and economic sustainability. With a chance to sample delicious soft cheeses and creamy yogurts, you taste the magic that makes dairy products so yummy. You also have the chance to learn the art of making homemade butter!

Wind Farm: On the edge of the outback, you stop at Windy Hill Wind Farm for a look at the first wind farm that was constructed in Queensland. The Windy Hill Wind Farm produces 12 megawatts of electricity, or enough energy to supply 3,500 homes. You learn about why Australia requires energy retailers to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to achieve renewable energy targets, and how this wind farm is helping with these sustainability efforts.

Outback Farmstay and Wildlife: As you cross the Great Dividing Range, you enter outback country, where the dirt turns red and gum trees prevail. Here you are welcome guests at a traditional working cattle station and homestead, opened to your group. On arrival, you hop in the hay truck to trace a route through the station–much of which has been set aside as a sanctuary for wildlife—and look for the kangaroos and crocodiles that roam the property.

Aussie BBQ and Stargazing: After a classic Aussie “barbie”, you have a fire under starry outback skies. From this remote outback station, views of the southern hemisphere stars are phenomenal. You learn how to find southern constellations—including the Southern Cross—most of which cannot be seen at all from the northern hemisphere. Students sleep in simple single-gender dorm-style bunk houses, while teachers sleep in private cabins tonight.

Accommodation: Outback Cattle Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3: Outback Farmstay, Community Service Project

Day 3: Outback Farmstay, Community Service Project

Outback Farm Life: This morning you get a sample of true outback life on a cattle station. You visit the cattle yards to learn about the cattle musters, efforts made for humane animal treatment and where your food comes from! You also learn what this robust rural family does to survive flooding, drought and economic hardships.

Cow Milking, Animal Feeding and Whip Cracking: Breaking into small groups, you can feed the goats and chickens, learn how to milk the cows and crack a whip properly in true cowboy style. You also take a walk back through time on the homestead to the age of the early Australian pioneers, and you can touch the old furniture, trinkets and memorabilia all well-preserved by the family.

Community Service Project for the Homeless: Preparing Hygiene Packs: Later today with Small World Journeys staff guidance,  you learn how to make special bags using upcycled materials (which helps them save money!) You then put hygiene items into the bags you’ve made–items most needed by those living on the street. In addition, a representative from the charity will speak to you about how members of the Cairns community become homeless, and how your gift will help.

Cuisine & Culture:  This evening you have a special treat: a migrant now living in Cairns shares her story and her love of cooking with you.  You learn how to prepare a delicious meal from her home country, and armed with the recipe you can also re-create this meal when you return home.  In a time when the plight of migrants is widely discussed, this activity will allow you to understand circumstances in the world that cause people to flee their countries and will humanize this struggle.  You gain some culinary skills, feast on a fantastic meal, and perhaps make a new friend. (Please inform us if you wish to have a restaurant dinner instead of this activity)

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

Day 4: Global Food Security & Aquaponics Workshop and Future of the Reef Presentation

Day 4: Global Food Security & Aquaponics Workshop and Future of the Reef Presentation

Aquaponics Activities: Today you gather at the property of an “aquaponics gardener” for a fun and intensive look at how to produce organic fruits, herbs, veggies AND fish in a sustainable way in your school or back yard.  Through hands-on activities, you learn how fish poop makes veggies develop, how things like sweet tomatoes, crunchy lettuce and fragrant mint grow without soil and how the icky-sounding but effective “worm tea” keeps insects away. Native bees on the property produce honey for collection, a breeding box makes fish food, and solar power keeps all systems running.

Make Your Own Sustainable System: The best part of the day is learning how to make your own mini-aquaponics system that you can easily and cheaply re-create at your home or school to produce your own food.  This is a creative exercise to spark discussion about the global themes of agriculture, hunger issues and sustainability and to show students how, through principles of permaculture, anyone can be self-sufficient.

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: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling, Reef Service Project and Turtle Rehab Centre

Day 5: Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling, Reef Service Project and Turtle Rehab Centre

Island Snorkelling: Today you travel by boat to the inner Great Barrier Reef to explore fringing reefs that surround a rainforest-draped tropical island.  Your marine biologist/naturalist takes you on a guided snorkel tour, to be followed by discussions on your observations. Topics can include, but are not limited to:  coral predators and threats to the reef, human impacts on the reef and climate change.

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.

Sustainability Activity:  Based on what they have learned thus far, students are asked to participate in a written evaluation of the island’s sustainability efforts through a fun activity.

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

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

Day 6: Wildlife Park Behind-The-Scenes, Aboriginal-Guided Walk and Daintree Rainforest

Day 6: Wildlife Park Behind-The-Scenes, Aboriginal-Guided Walk and Daintree Rainforest

Wildlife Park: In the morning your guide takes you to a wildlife immersion park that is made up of three open and interactive environments (the Rainforest, the Wetlands and the Grasslands) for guests and animals to mingle in a natural setting. Hundreds of animals are housed on the property, including kangaroos, wallabies, laughing kookaburras, goannas, quolls, snakes, lorikeets, tree kangaroos, owls, koalas and an assortment of other Aussie animals, all of which are in need of proper enclosures, feeding and care.

Behind-the-Scenes Wildlife Rescue Program and Breeding: Your guide gives you fascinating insight into the day in the life of a wildlife keeper and how they care for sick, injured or orphaned animals. The goal of the centre is to eventually re-release the animals into the wild. In addition, the care centre operates a successful Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo breeding program for this locally endemic species. Your tour includes the Wildlife Care and Rescue Centre, Quarantine, Koala and Eucalypt Plantations and Food Preparation areas.

Optional Photo – You and a Koala! If you have always wanted to get a quintessential photo with a koala- here’s your chance (extra cost).

Aboriginal-Guided Rainforest Walk: You discover Mossman Gorge and its surrounding wilderness, an area sacred to the Kuku Yalanji. The Kuku Yalanji are one of the only tribal rainforest people in Australia who still have their own culture and language, and this afternoon you are welcomed by an aboriginal guide for a walk to see the rainforest through indigenous eyes. You discover how aboriginal people found their way through dense rainforest and learn which native plants were used for food, fire and medicine. Your guide also explains how seasons dictated life and how modern life has affected their spirituality. This is a positive interaction with traditional owners during which you learn how they survived on this land for thousands of years.

Daintree Rainforest Eco-Lodge & Sustainability Talk: Later you enter the magical Daintree Rainforest – the oldest continuously growing rainforest on earth. Your Daintree lodge boasts an attractive swimming pool, guest laundry, BBQ area, and a superb location in the rainforest.  Students sleep in dorm-style cabins with ensuites and air conditioning, and the sounds of the jungle surround you.

Accommodation: Daintree Rainforest Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7: Environmental Debate, JCU Research Station Canopy Crane & Service Project and Beach BBQ

Day 7: Environmental Debate, JCU Research Station Canopy Crane & Service Project and Beach BBQ

Environmental Debate: After a night of immersion in the rainforest, you wake to birdcalls and the chatter of the jungle.  Then you participate in an environmental debate which centers around issues of management and planning of Australia’s urban future.  Students are given background information and a summary of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about a major resort development proposed for Cairns and then given different roles to play of community members.  They then argue for or against the building of the resort to convince “council” (teachers). This requires evaluating current and proposed future land use as well as human alteration of biomes, taking into consideration biotic and abiotic factors. This is a fun way for you to get involved with all sides of an environmental debate with a real-life example that has gained significant national media attention.

JCU Canopy Crane: The James Cook University research station is home to their canopy crane. After a safety orientation and a discussion about the significance of this rainforest by an on-site expert, you climb into a suspended gondola with the crane operator.  The crane then ascends over the rainforest canopy, and can swing 360 degrees, surveying 1 hectare of the incredible biodiversity that has earned the Daintree UNESCO World Heritage status. This research station is only 1 of 3 of its kind existing in the tropics.

Service Project: Whilst not in the crane, the group participates in an important service project at the research station.  Hundreds of trees have been planted for re-growth on site, and students are taught how to do condition assessments of the trees as biologists and botanists do in the field. Students learn about pioneer species, herbivory, and how to use a clinometer and DBH tapes to measure tree growth. The results of the condition assessments are then contributed to the ongoing research on the success of “pioneer species” used by JCU staff.

Beach BBQ: Later you head to the most stunning beach in the region for swimming, music, beach soccer and a classic Aussie BBQ.

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

Day 8: The Great Barrier Reef – Snorkelling, Data Collection and Community Service

Day 8: The Great Barrier Reef – Snorkelling, Data Collection and Community Service

Boat Ride to Reef: Your day begins with an air-conditioned catamaran ride to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World-Heritage site and one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet.  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.

Snorkeling and Data Collection: Upon arrival, you dock at a floating pontoon, and an underwater universe greets you. During a guided snorkel tour with your marine biologist, you can expect to see a rainbow of hard and soft corals, turtles, and a variety of fish species including butterfly fish, giant Maori Wrasse, parrot fish, and the ever-popular clown fish, also known as “Nemo”.

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.

Field Guide & Sightings Ap: 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef, written by Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand the underwater world and is yours to keep.  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).

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

Day 9: Optional Sustainability Amazing Race and Departure

Day 9: Optional Sustainability Amazing Race and Departure

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

Optional Sustainability Amazing Race: Totally optional but totally fun is Small World Journeys’ Sustainability Amazing Race (no extra cost). Students break up into small teams and they are given clues about different sustainable sites or aspects of Cairns city. Questions are tailored to younger or older students and this is a good way to test students’ retention of the material taught on the program.  This is an action-oriented activity that is fun for everyone, and the winning team gets a prize!

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

Meals Included: Breakfast

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

Trip Fees Include:

  • Cairns airport transfers
  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • All transportation
  • Small World Journeys guide for Days 1-4, 6-7
  • Marine biologist Days 5 & 8
  • Specialty guides and Indigenous educators
  • 6 nights central Cairns budget accommodation (6- share rooms with ensuite; teachers in twin or triple share with ensuite)*
  • 1 night outback cattle station (students in single-gender dorm-style accommodation; teachers in cabins – shared bathroom and shower facilities)
  • 1 night Daintree eco-lodge (students in single-gender quad-share cabins; teachers in shared cabins with ensuite)*
  • All continental breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners (except one on last night)
  • 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
  • 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 on the reef trip
  • Reusable water bottles for each student to keep
  • National Park and Marine Park taxes and levies
  • Trees for replanting
  • Contents of hygiene packs to be distributed to local homeless and needy people
  • 5 metres square of Daintree rainforest adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue

* Two private rooms (twin or triple) for teachers are included in the price of the trip. If additional rooms are required, a supplement of $513 AUD is incurred.  If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.

School Trip Fees Exclude:

  • International & Domestic airfare
  • 1 dinner
  • Personal expenses (phone, internet, laundry, etc.)


  • Optional photo with koala ($24)

Land Cost to 31 March 2020:

  • 15+ participants: $2226 AUD
  • 10-14 participants (low numbers): $2360 AUD

Land Cost from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019:

  • 15+ participants: $2296 AUD
  • 10-14 participants (low numbers): $2359 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. One night is at an outback cattle station, where students sleep in single gender cabins with bunk beds, and group leaders stay in private cabins. In the Daintree rainforest, students and group leaders stay separately in single-gender dorm-style rooms with private bathrooms –this is the perfect spot to enjoy the life and chatter of the jungle.

  • Upgrade to Cairns HOTEL accommodation: Your hotel is located within easy walking distance to the Cairns Esplanade and offers friendly, personal hospitality. Student rooms are triple share and teachers will enjoy twin share rooms with free WiFi. All spacious rooms feature LCD TVs, air-conditioning and private bathroom. The hotel has 24 hour reception, 2 swimming pools and a restaurant where a continental breakfast is served daily. Add $192 per person.


All meals except one dinner are included. You have a combination of catered and restaurant meals. 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 BBQs, all-you-can-eat pasta and pizza, seafood treats and local favourites. 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: Do I need a visa to visit Australia?

Answer: All visitors to Australia need a visa, with the exception of visitors from New Zealand. In some countries a visa is easily obtained by the travel agent who issues your ticket, and should be free of charge. For more information on getting a visa, please see: Australian Visas. All visitors will also need a passport, valid for at least six months after the planned return date.  

Question 2: How do we arrange airfare?

Answer: We do not arrange airfare in house, however we do work closely with a couple of travel agents who would be happy to help: In Australia, we recommend Kim Salter, our Melbourne-based travel agent. Contact Kim at or call + 61 0433 324 455 or toll free within Australia 1 300 640 821.   In the US, we recommend: Sandra Marron at Millennium Travel California. You can contact Sandra at or call  1-415-898- 7974.

Question 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 10: 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.

Sustainable Tourism Education and Community Service Tour

The content of this trip is suitable for high school or university groups who are studying topics like sustainable tourism, business and agriculture along with studies in biology, ecology and cultural studies. In addition, a community service trip in Australia continues to be the most popular program for international groups. Not only will your students will get to participate in a range of activities offered by eco-tour operators, they will also have the opportunity to speak with business owners about why sustainability is so important to their business and the environmental considerations they have had to make. The community service projects help to emphasize the importance of supporting the community in which you are travelling as an essential element of sustainability.

  • Talk to sustainability professors and experts in their fields
  • Collect data on coral predators and coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Hear from cattle station owners about the difficulties of life on the land
  • Make a meal for the homeless and needy in Cairns
  • Experience the world’s oldest living rainforest- the Daintree
  • Make cheese or yogurt at a biodynamic dairy farm
  • Participate in eco-tourism ensuring that you are leaving the area exactly as you found it
  • Plant native trees to help revitalise degraded land
  • See how Australia’s wildlife evolved into unique species found nowhere else in the world
  • Learn about UNESCO World Heritage listing and the important environmental sites in the tropics
  • Discuss food security and learn how to make sustainable systems at home

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 A visit to the rainforest demonstrates how all life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival.
  • OI.3 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.7 On your Far North Queensland trip 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 the Wet Tropics 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 area.
  • OI.9 During their trip students will learn about GBRMPA and WETMA and the factors that led to World Heritage listing of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics of Queensland. The sustainable future of these ecosystems is the result of actions designed to preserve the quality and uniqueness of environments. Students will also learn about the threats to the area and what actions are being established to restore areas damaged by cyclones, crown of thorns starfish, overfishing, logging, development and pollution.

A Word on Our Australian Community Service

On our community service trips in Australia, we are committed to quality service projects, rather than “busy work” or service for service’s sake. As we lack orphanages or communities in desperate need of housing here in Australia, we cannot rely on the “typical” community service projects offered in developing countries.  We have to also keep in mind that students participating on a community service tour in Australia are unlikely to be bringing a high level of specialised skills with which they can be of great value to a community that needs help.

That being said, on this program we have focused on two areas that unskilled students can still make a high-quality contribution:  environmental protection and helping the homeless.  For example, on our Eye on The Reef service project, the more student “eyes” participating the better. Student groups are taught how to look for coral bleaching and coral predators, and when they fan out on the Great Barrier Reef, abundant coverage is needed and valued. Similarly, the more students there are to create a meal and hygiene packs for the homeless and needy, the more individuals are fed and cared for.

Many colleges and universities like to see students involvement in community service trips, and we could perhaps conclude in may cases logged community service hours serve as an unofficial requirement for acceptance into these educational institutions.  However, we have seen time and time again the fulfillment gained by students on these Australian community service programs by simply giving back whilst they travel.  We encourage you to bring your students on an Australian service learning program not for ticking off a list, but for the joy of selflessness at a time when students are all about self.

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.