A Different Kind of Tour Operator for a Different Kind of Traveller
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.
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 had 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 Outward Bound, The World Outdoors, Adventures Cross-Country and People to People Student Ambassador Programs in the USA, and RnR Adventures in Australia. 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.
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.
Jess is a former teacher from New South Wales, where she taught history and geography to high school students. Having earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Sydney’s Macquarie University, Jess is well connected to the New South Wales (and now national) curriculum. Jess eventually moved from the classroom to the outdoors, working as a tour manager for Contiki, teaching young people about Australia’s historical sites and natural places. This led to guiding work in Southeast Asia, where Jess “earned her stripes” as a cross-cultural tour manager. When she was young, Jess was an exchange student in Ecuador and has volunteered in Costa Rica on a sea turtle conservation project. She is an avid SCUBA diver–having earned her Divemaster certification in Mozambique–and her travels have taken her to remote parts of the world such as Brazil and Borneo.
Bente came to Small World Journeys with a background in tourism and education, looking to expand her experience in these industries. She is completing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Tourism & Travel from Breda University of Applied Sciences. A native Dutch speaker, Bente comes from The Hague, Netherlands, and she has also lived in the United States. She is conversant in English, French, German and also speaks basic Spanish. Bente is a keen swimmer and artist and has travelled in North America, Europe and Brazil.
Dr. Martin Cohen
Martin has worked as a zoologist and wildlife commentator for over 20 years. During this time he has conducted numerous wildlife surveys, been involved in wildlife research (including a PhD on cane toads), and undertaken biodiversity monitoring programs. He has also worked with community conservation groups, guided eco-tours all over Australia, written countless popular wildlife articles and presented wildlife and conservation talks to people from all walks of life. He was even sponsored by Land Rover to drive right around Australia in 80 days and write about his experiences including the best wildlife locations and places to camp. Martin is always in demand for his writing and photography skills, and is involved in several wildlife research projects including climate change impacts on the Wet Tropics biodiversity and canopy bridges for arboreal fauna for James Cook University. With Julia Cooper, he was the author and photographer of 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics, 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics, 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest Animals
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.
With a Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation, Andrew has worked with young people for many years, facilitating ropes courses, team building and adventure sports. By helping students through physical and intellectual challenges, he has helped them achieve both personal and group goals. Andrew has a sound background in safety and first aid skills, and his energies have gone into developing student risk management assessments and emergency management plans. Since 2006 Andrew has also been guiding guests of all ages through the rainforest, teaching about its flora, fauna and natural history. As an avid kayaker and an accomplished rafting guide, he has led hundreds of adventurers down Queensland rivers as well. Andrew’s extensive travels have taken him through North and Central America, Europe, Africa, China, Japan, South East Asia, and Papua New Guinea.
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 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 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 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
Bec has been in and around the water her whole life. While completing her degree in Marine Biology at Flinders University she worked on a number of projects including investigating mangrove health in St Vincent and Spencer Gulfs, teaching necropsy on marine vertebrates and volunteering on a turtle conservation project in Costa Rica. The South Australian Museum then claimed Bec as a lab assistant as well as a field assistant; she was involved in marine mammal necropsy, specimen collection and processing tissue samples as well as conducting fur seal pup surveys. The lure of warmer waters brought Bec to Cairns several years ago, and she has served as a dive Instructor and marine biologist on a number of vessels. She is an advocate for the Great Barrier Reef by regularly working as a dive control specialist removing the damaging Crown of Thorns starfish from the reef. Bec spent her formative years living in Papua New Guinea, and has travelled to The United States, New Zealand, Japan, and exotic locations throughout Southeast Asia such as Borneo.
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.