A Tour Operator for Students of All Kinds
You are a group organiser or a teacher who looks for a trip with depth. A trip that introduces you to local people, local customs and the wonders of the natural world. A trip that you walk away from feeling dazzled, surprised and educated. Congratulations, you’ve found the company that can give you those things and more.
The Story of Small World Journeys
Owners Peter and Laurie met by chance when both were stranded at the Tokyo airport in 2002 when a massive typhoon prevented them from flying out. They were married a year later and the seeds for Small World Journeys were planted. Through their travels in Europe, Asia, North America and the islands of Oceania together, Peter and Laurie have seen how travels can be transformational, and how the human connection transcends race and borders. It is their dream to inspire this sense of connection – to Australia’s people and places—in every guest. Indeed, it is a small world.
Extraordinary Guides & Teachers
Our guides are smarty-pants! We feel it’s important for your guide to be not just knowledgeable, but the kind of person you’d want as your travelling companion. While we have naturalists, storytellers, PhDs, entertainers, biologists, field-guide authors and indigenous people in our diverse collection of educators and guides, we are also proud of the kind of people they are – those who are passionate about the natural world, and who want to share their enthusiasm with you.
Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners
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.
Laurie Pritchard - Managing Director
Laurie was raised in the United States but her heart belongs to Australia. Educated at the Cranbrook-Kingswood School and the University of South Florida and L’Institut de Touraine in France, Laurie also held a university teaching post in mainland China. A love of the outdoors led to 12 years working for and developing adventure trips for organisations like The World Outdoors, Adventures Cross-Country and People to People Student Ambassador Programs in the USA, and RnR Adventures in Australia. Laurie was a field instructor for the Outward Bound School, leading educational wilderness expeditions for disadvantaged and at-risk youth and she was also the Wilderness Director for Oak Creek Ranch School. She has traveled to over 40 countries, and her articles about travel have appeared in magazines such as Transitions Abroad, Real Travel and on The Travel Channel’s World Hum.
Pete Pritchard - IT Manager/Guide
Growing up in Australia, Peter spent his young life riding waves, walking barefoot, and playing guitar. A professional music career then blossomed, and he played gigs up and down the coast of Australia. With higher education calling, Peter left music to get a degree at Griffith University, and soon found his passion in design work. He began developing websites and marketing materials as a creative outlet, and is now Small World Journeys one man IT department. Peter has lived in both the United States and Australia, and has traveled through Europe, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. His work at Navitas English College first helped him tune in to the needs of international students in Cairns, and he now enjoys teaching foreign students about his beautiful country on tours.
Chelsea Handley - Groups Coordinator
Chelsea is our resident Kiwi, hailing from New Zealand’s north island. Her organisational skills were honed early on in Auckland and Rotorua where she handled the accounting for the family business. After a brief stint as an Events Manager at London’s highly-regarded Clos Maggiore, Chelsea formalised her love of travel by earning a Certificate IV in Tourism-Travel in Australia. She then worked as a travel agent in a bustling agency in Sydney. But soon Chelsea found herself answering the call of the sea and moved to tropical Cairns to work on the Great Barrier Reef. Chelsea was trained in marine safety–such as survival techniques and fire fighting–at the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College, and she earned certifications as both a dive master and Advanced First Responder. She then went on to learn all aspects of running tours to the Great Barrier Reef: reservations, accounting, crewing, guiding divers and snorkelers, recruiting, and even cooking. Chelsea is now completing her diploma in Accounting. her travels have taken her throughout southeast Asia, India, Nepal, China, Peru Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France, Egypt and the Canary Islands and she has lived in the UK for almost a year.
Dale Bennett - Administration and Guest Relations
Dale’s childhood was spent four-wheel driving and walking in the Daintree Rainforest on her father’s tours. Carrying her love of the outdoors into her studies, Dale earned an advanced degree in environmental science from James Cook University. Dale has helped coordinate the details of dream trips for many clients having worked as an International Travel Consultant for Flight Centre, and then later worked as Travel Coordinator for ITEC. Her experience as an Internal Business Development Manager for Corporate Express also helps keep the Small World Journeys office running efficiently, and she has maintained her connection to young people by serving as a mentor to first-year science and engineering students at JCU. Dale has travelled extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand – even picking fruit for a while to fund her travels! Dale is an Aussie Martha Stewart of sorts, as she loves crafting, baking and sewing.
Tasha Sanders - Operations Coordinator/Guide
Tasha earned her Bachelor of Science degree at James Cook University with a major in Zoology and Ecology. She has been involved in flora and fauna surveys, fish behaviour analyses, and the creation of an herbarium of different class weed species. Her love of animals also prompted her to volunteer for both the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary and the Cairns Tropical Zoo, which honed her skills in animal husbandry. Tasha’s role as James Cook Uni’s Student Ambassador allowed her to visit high schools to promote the university, as well as help facilitate Science Experience for high school students. A highlight for Tasha has been conducting class science experiments with Year 8-10 students on Thursday Island and Bamaga. Tash enjoys rock climbing, hiking, cycling and playing ultimate disc (frisbee), and in 2014 Tasha went with the Cairns team “Troppo” to the Australian Mixed Ultimate Championships. Tash also holds a Bronze Medallion.
Maggie Booth - Guide
Maggie Booth has worked as a marine biologist for 20 years. Originally from England, Maggie has lived in north Queensland for 20 years. Part of this time she ran the James Cook University research station on Orpheus Island — the research station plays a critical role in the study of the systems at The Great Barrier Reef, as well as hosting numerous student groups interested in marine biology. Maggie has a double degree in zoology and marine biology, as well as a graduate diploma in education. Having worked with teenagers both in and out of the classroom, Maggie has honed a teaching style that young people appreciate and learn from. She is an avid SCUBA diver, Dive Master, and enthusiastic teacher.
Rick Hall - Guide
As a former researcher for the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Rick has spent many years up close to Australian fauna. He was involved with frog monitoring and mammal surveys, which eventually led to his profession as a naturalist. Rick also conducted extensive field research and interpretation programs on sea turtle biology at the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery. Rick is a true-blue Aussie bloke born and bred in Queensland, and he knows the Aussie “bush” intimately. Having worked as a full time naturalist guide from the coast to the outback for many years, Rick is also a superb generalist with an enthusiasm for camping, teaching, and working with young people. Working with companies such as Australian Wild Escapes and Wilderness Eco Safaris further honed his group management and “tour guiding” skills. His travels have taken him through South America and Papua New Guinea, and his time with Australia’s indigenous people created a fondness for playing the didgeridoo.
Kylie Michell - Guide
Kylie is our Sydney-based guide: she loves showing visitors the hidden and unusual corners of Sydney, and her two children keep her busy discovering more. Kylie got her start as a guide in 1994 with Contiki which gave her a sound background in managing groups of young people and an intimate knowledge of Australia’s entire east coast. Kylie then went on to train tour guides for Contiki’s head office in Sydney, and even taught tour guiding at an adult college. Kylie studied mass communications at Macquarie University in Sydney, and obtained her NAATI accreditation as an interpreter which has led to work in Italian as well as French. Kylie has also recently completed a course on the colonial history of Sydney, which has added a new dimension to her knowledge of the city. Although Kylie spent her youth in Florence, Italy, having attended the American School there, she is an Aussie through and through. Consequently, Kylie is just as comfortable sipping a cappuccino at a cafe as a beer in a country pub.
Alan Gilanders - Guide
Alan Gilanders is a wildlife expert and keeps busy showing guests the unique fauna of the area. Alan was a primary school and high school science teacher, as well as temporary principal for several small schools. Alan’s natural history education started in childhood with his parents, along with family and aboriginal elders, developed through personal experience and investigation and rounded out by joining scientists in the field. He was a national park volunteer for 20 years, and now his specialty is wildlife spotting. Alan is a true-blue Aussie bloke, born and bred in the region, and groups always enjoy his enthusiasm for all things wild.
Yann Levieux - Guide
Yann is our French-speaking guide: originally from Brittany in northwest France, Yann came to Australia inspired by his love of sailing and by the tropics. In 1985, he pursued his dream of sailing around the world. By crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a French 3 mast old rigging and then in 1986 on a luxury yacht through the Pacific Ocean, Yann joined the America’s Cup’s yacht racing organisation. In 1988 he came back to Australia to represent France on another French old rigging for the celebration of the Australian bicentenary. Enamoured by Australia, Yann decided with his family to permanently move to Queensland’s Far North. Yann has been working in the Cairns region now for more than 20 years, teaching visitors about both the sea and the rainforest. Yann is an accredited guide through the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WETMA), a highly regarded certification, as well as a lifeguard. He and his wife divide their time between living on their yacht and in their house in the middle of the rainforest.
Emma Cooke - Guide
Emma grew up in Melbourne, but her love of nature took her out of the city often as a child. Emma studied at both Monash University (Bachelor of Arts) and at James Cook University in Cairns (Australian Literature and Australian History) with a focus on early European and Indigenous Australian contact and early European perception of the rainforest. Emma also obtained a Certificate IV in Tour Guiding from TAFE. Emma began guiding in 1996 working for Jungle Tours in the Cairns region, taking young backpackers on adventures in the rainforest. At this point, Emma earned the distinction of being the only female trekking guide in north Queensland! In addition, Emma managed a lodge in the Cairns Highlands that provided nature walks & hiking, canoeing, wildlife spotting. She holds a government-issued Blue Card for working with young people, as well as a Senior First Aid and CPR. Her interests include indigenous affairs – including Aboriginal civil rights within the Australian political landscape. Her travels have taken her around the world, solo hiking and camping in remote Europe, post-communist Russia and the Baltic States.
David Witherall - Guide
David has earned two degrees from James Cook University: a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Bachelor of Biological Science. His attainment of a Certificate III in Tour Guiding and dive instructor training rounded out his education, making him a superb teacher of the sea. David began his involvement with the Eye on The Reef monitoring programs through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2003, and was also involved with cleaner wrasse research at Green Island. Back on land, his terrestrial wildlife monitoring included flying foxes, frogs and wallabies. David is the former president of Students for Sustainability as well as a tutor of Aboriginal students, both at James Cook University. His travels have taken him to the sun-splashed shores of southern France to the back corners of New Orleans, and around the world on a yacht race. David’s publications include How to be A Star…fish, Life on Green Island, and The Restaurant Below, and he was a major contributor to the outstanding electronic field guide Atlas of Living Australia.
Bess Murphy - Guide
Bess is a shining star in environmental science. Having won the Howard Worner Prize in Environmental Science, the Allan Sefton memorial Prize for best (environmental science) graduate at the University of Wollongong and the Crozcare Geological Prize relating to soils, landscape and hydrology, she is well suited to teach students about our natural world. Her love of working with students manifested in a private tutoring position for HSC Biology, and later for first year university biology students at the University of Wollongong. Bess has also worked as a research assistant for both the Bathurst School of Teacher education at Charles Sturt University and in Faculty of Teacher Education at the University of Wollongong (and Faculty of Biological Sciences at UOW). The study of mangrove systems continues to hold her interest. Since 2008 Bess has worked tirelessly on rainforest regeneration at Garriya Nature Reserve and together with her partner, she also grows sustainable timber. Bess has been nominated for an FNQ Handmade Industry award for the jewelry she makes from the timber offcuts. Her travels have taken her extensively around Australia, from temperate savanna to the tropics.
Samantha Barnett - Guide
Samantha “Sam” Barnett: Sam’s studies and experience have developed her skills both in Queensland forests and in the sea. Having earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Science (Zoology) and a postgraduate degree in Biomedical Science (Marine Venom Ecology & Physiology) both at James Cook University, Sam is our truly “amphibious” guide. Sam’s peculiar fascination with the venomous Stone Fish has led to both a dissertation on the species as well as a volunteer position at James Cook University’s research aquarium. Her other jobs have taken her from being a lab research technician at Monash University to the entomology program coordinator for the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. For fun and love of the water, Sam earned both a Dive Master certificate and Boating License. She also has delivered talks on marine biology to hundreds of tourists at the Great Barrier Reef and collected data for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) Eye on the Reef program. Sam’s special talent is taking complicated concepts (like how venom works on the nervous system!) and presenting them in an easy-to-follow style that young people love. Sam has travelled through Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, New Zealand and throughout Australia.
Special Speakers and Instructors
We are proud to have arranged speakers like Astrophysicist & Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and Astronomer Duane Hamacher (Part of the Aboriginal Astronomy Project at Macquarie University) to speak exclusively to Small World Journeys’ groups in Cairns for the total solar eclipse in November 2012. Noted scientist and venomologist Jaime Seymour and climate scientist Steve Turton are both regular speakers on Small World Journeys tours as well. Whenever possible, we find top-notch experts in their field to match your educational goals.