Ecosystems at Risk: Reefs and Rainforests
Geography & Biology Studies at The Earth’s Biodiversity Hot Spots
Far North Queensland is blessed with two UNESCO World Heritage areas — The Wet Tropics (of which the Daintree Rainforest is a part) and The Great Barrier Reef–both of which contain some of the planet’s best biodiversity. On this excursion, you learn about traditional land management from Aboriginal guides in the lush Daintree rainforest, and about contemporary land management from a marine biologist at the Great Barrier Reef. You see first-hand the impacts of both natural and human activity on these two ecosystems, and you meet people who are striving to protect both flora and fauna in these special areas. This is perhaps the best way to get your students involved in hands-on activities with two case studies: two exceptional tropical biomes.
- Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef with a marine biologist/scientist
- Soar high into the Daintree rainforest in JCU’s canopy crane
- Test water quality and collect data about coral predators at the reef
- Glide over the rainforest canopy on Cairns premier eco-attraction: The Skyrail
- Discuss traditional land uses with Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal guides
- Follow the evolution of plants on the Botanic Gardens’ Gondwana walk with a botanist
- Visit a Turtle Rehabilitation Centre run by volunteers
All accommodation is included. In Cairns, you stay at a breezy award-winning hostel in the centre of the restaurant and shopping district. Students like the tropical swimming pool, lounging in the hammock and playing billiards at the free pool table, while group leaders love the private ensuite rooms, air conditioning, laundry facilities and free internet/WiFi (hotel accommodation as an upgrade, see inclusions page). In the Daintree Rainforest (but directly on the beach), students stay in single-gender quad share cabins with ensuites –this is the perfect spot to enjoy the life and chatter of the jungle.
All meals are included, except 1 dinner. 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 fruit 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.
Day 1: Arrive, Botanic Gardens and Speaker on Protected Area Management
Arrival: Welcome to the tropics! You arrive in Cairns and are warmly greeted by one of our staff members at the airport. (Arrive before 1 pm today).
Plant Evolution at Botanic Gardens: Later an expert botanist/entomologist leads you through what is considered one of the best tropical gardens in the world. Tracing a loop through the Gondwanan Heritage Garden, you witness how plants evolved as the continents pulled apart. You meet descendants of plants that turned into our present coal beds, which ones killed Aborigines slowly over time, and the plant that was recently discovered in the Daintree Rainforest that was thought to have been gone forever. You also discover how, by a strange twist of geological fate, the Wet Tropics UNESCO World Heritage area became the oldest continually growing rainforest on earth.
Guest Speaker on Protected Area Management: Guest speakers may include Professor Steve Turton (Professor of Geography in the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences at JCU), Terry Carmichael (consultant to The Wet Tropics Management Authority) or Gavin Singleton (Aboriginal Traditional Owner, Yirrganydji) to provide insight on global and regional issues such as protected area management, climate change and human impacts.
Accommodation: You stay at a breezy award-winning hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. Well shaded by tropical trees and plants, the hostel features an outdoor pool and free internet and WiFi. Student rooms are 6-share with ensuites while teachers stay in private ensuite rooms. (Hotel upgrade available, see inclusions page)
Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Day 2: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Aboriginal-Guided Rainforest Walk and Daintree Rainforest
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway: This morning you experience Cairns premier eco-attraction and winner of numerous ecotourism awards – the Skyrail. Your guide takes you to this unique rainforest cableway for a fantastic journey over Australia’s World Heritage listed tropical rainforest canopy and deep into the forest. Spanning 7.5 kilometres over Barron Gorge National Park, the Skyrail experience includes a scenic cableway ride and stops at two rainforest mid-stations.
Aboriginal Guided Rainforest Walk: Next you discover the Daintree Rainforest at Mossman Gorge, an area important to the Kuku Yalanji. Beginning with a traditional smoking ceremony, you wander rainforest paths, discovering with your guide how these Aboriginal people found their way through dense rainforest, made shelter and learned which native plants were tasty to eat. As your guide shares his stories, you learn how the seasons dictated life, what falls under men’s and women’s “business”, how to make fire in the rainforest and how to make fish very easy to catch.
Economic Enterprise Case Study: As an Aboriginal-owned tourism venture in the rainforest, Mossman Gorge Centre may be a good case study of the geography of a local economic enterprise. Its residential training centre provides up to 30 Indigenous traineeship places each year for students from remote and regional communities. You can browse the Visitor’s Centre and art gallery and speak to key staff about the centre’s effects on the economy and community.
Field Guide: 101 Animals of The Wet Tropics, written by Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand animal species in the region and is yours to keep.
Daintree Rainforest & Beach Eco-Lodge: Later you enter the main section of the 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 but directly on the beach. The lodge also uses grey water for irrigation, locally-sourced food for its restaurant, and recycles 80% of its waste. Students sleep four to a cabin, and the sounds of the jungle surround you.
Accommodation: Daintree Rainforest Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 3: Environmental Debate, JCU Research Station and Canopy Crane, Service Project and Reef Presentation
Environmental Debate: After a night of immersion in the rainforest, you wake to birdcalls and the chatter of the jungle. After a hearty breakfast, you participate in a debate in which each small group takes on a role and presents their argument either for or against the development of a major Las Vegas-style resort, still in the planning stages for Cairns. 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 media attention.
JCU Canopy Crane: The James Cook University Daintree 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 the incredible biodiversity that has earned the Daintree UNESCO World Heritage status. (Students must be at least 15 years old)
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.
Marine Biologist Reef Presentation: Back in Cairns you attend a lively presentation taught by your marine biologist, during which you learn more about biodiversity and the significance of the Great Barrier Reef. From colourful corals that take whimsical shapes like broccoli, brains and baskets to a host of fish such as the chocolate-dipped damsel, the Picasso triggerfish and the giant Maori wrasse, you learn how to identify the most common creatures at the reef. You find out about threatened species and coral predators—such as the Crown of Thorns—and the consequences of climate change and human activity on the reef. More importantly, you learn about the real hazards at the reef (like the innocent-looking cone shell) versus the imagined ones (like scary sharks) fuelled by Hollywood myths. This is a good introduction to the Barrier Reef biome you are about to experience.
Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4: Fitzroy Island with Marine Scientist and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
Ferry 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.
Snorkelling: With full use of snorkel gear for the day, you can walk right into the water to explore the magnificent reef system that surrounds the island. Just offshore a kaleidoscope of marine life beckons to be discovered: colourful corals, parrot and lionfish, turtles, cuttle fish, rays and giant clams.
Marine Biology & Mapping Activity: With our marine scientist you review some basics before engaging in guided snorkel sessions. Using a life ring and a floating bar, she leads you to underwater examples of some of the reef’s most interesting features. Discussions out of water and in the tidal zone can include but are not limited to: endemic and endangered species, animal behaviour and parasitism, tropic levels and human impacts on the reef. A lunchtime mapping activity also helps students with their geography skills and understand management strategies for the reef.
Fish Population Survey and Water Quality Testing: Students also undertake an in-water biodiversity study with our marine scientist using the waterproof SWJ Fish ID & tally slates that has them identifying & recording the number of specific indicator species that exist at Fitzroy island. You also learn to measure water quality using a Secchi disk, refractometer and 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.
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.
Field Guide: 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.
Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling, Data Collection & Community Service
Eco-Friendly Reef Boat & Exclusive Eco-Guide: Early this morning you travel to the outer Great Barrier Reef on a sailing catamaran that has been awarded an Advanced Ecotourism certification. You have an accredited eco-guide/sustainability expert devoted exclusively to your group for today’s experience as well. On your trip out to the reef he covers topics of your choice such as food webs and the role of energy by organisms, the water cycle and the role of photosynthesis at the reef.
Sand Cay and Snorkelling: First stop is Michaelmas Cay where you can walk right into the water to snorkel. Michaelmas is a perfect spot for your discussion of marine geomorphology and processes that create a cay — and eventually an island. The cay is an important seabird refuge and marine park and here you also learn about the abiotic characteristics of this marine environment.
Data Collection: Then during a timed snorkel session, you record your underwater findings. Your guide and waterproof tiles 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. Your group receives a reef health report after your excursion that includes your contributions.
Coral Predator Eradication & Community Service: Having students cover a large area of the reef site greatly increases the chances of coral predators being discovered. Once you identify coral predators such as the Crown of Thorns starfish, you then accompany your guide to learn the careful process of eliminating these harmful creatures from the reef.
Sightings App: You also learn how to log in sightings of your reef fauna and flora using an app downloadable to your phone or iPad, and your data is then sent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).
In the late afternoon you return to Cairns for a farewell group dinner and an optional visit to the Night Markets.
Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Free Time, Optional Urban Challenge and Departure
Free Time: After breakfast this morning you have free time for last-minute shopping or souvenir purchases.
Optional Urban Challenge: If you have an afternoon flight, you can choose to spend the morning souvenir shopping, swimming at the lagoon or participating in Small World Journeys’ Urban Challenge! (no extra cost) The Urban Challenge is a fun team-building exercise that allows students to learn more about the history, nature, art and culture of Cairns. Small group teams compete against time in this treasure hunt-type activity in Cairns central business district. This is a popular activity for students and the winning team gets a prize!
Later you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.
Is this geography-focused program too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!
Land Cost, 15 + participants: $1195 AUD
Land Cost, 10-14 participants: $1295 AUD
Excursion Fees Include:
- Cairns airport transfers
- All activities as described in the itinerary
- Transportation to activities
- Naturalist guide on Days 1-3
- Marine biologist on Day 4
- Eco-certified sustainability guide on Day 5
- 4 nights central Cairns hostel (4 or 6 share single-gender rooms with ensuites – upgrade to hotel accommodation available, see below)*
- 1 night Daintree rainforest lodge on the beach (4 share single-gender cabins with ensuites)*
- All continental breakfasts
- All lunches
- All dinners (except on Day 1)
- Mask, fins, snorkel hire on Fitzroy Island and reef trip
- Stinger suit hire during the wet season
- 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics and 101 Marine Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each student
- Small World Journeys reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag
- National Park and Marine Park taxes and levies
- Carbon offsetting through Sustainable Travel International (STI) for a carbon-neutral trip
*Teachers have a private twin or triple share rooms with ensuite in Cairns and in the Daintree Rainforest. A supplement of $418 is charged if an additional private room is required. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.
Excursion Fees Exclude:
- Airfare to Cairns
- 1 dinner
- Personal expenses (phone, souvenirs, laundry, etc.)
- 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 $130 per person.
Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.
Question 1: 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-415-898- 7974.
Question 2: 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.
Question 3: 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 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 Reasons Why We're Eco.
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 Excursion to the Daintree & Great Barrier Reef – Educational Outcomes: Geography & Biology
Marine Biology Presentation: (Geography H1, H2/Biology H1, H4, H10) This two hour presentation is a fantastic introduction to the spatial patterns and dimensions of the Great Barrier Reef whilst providing students with the knowledge of the species that make coral reefs unique. There will be a focus on species identification and how to recognise major fish families and coral types.
Fitzroy Island Day Trip & Turtle Rehab Centre: (Geography H1, H2, H5/Biology H7, H8, H10) On the day trip to Fitzroy Island students will be able to closely examine the inner Great Barrier Reef. The island is a continental island that was once attached to the mainland, which gives you opportunity to discuss marine geomorphology (the study of marine landforms and the processes that shape them).
With our marine biologist, your day is designed to incorporate fieldwork, biology and geographic skills including exploring relationships between biophysical components, highlighting the vulnerability and the resilience of the reef. Students will have the opportunity to examine the positive and negative human impacts on the island (which is also a national park) and the Great Barrier Reef while also looking at the contemporary management strategies put in place to keep the island in a pristine condition.
As you do water quality measurements, you also discuss the ecosystem holistically, discussing for example how farmers in the Tablelands affect the water quality at the reef.
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 Day Trip: (Geography H1, H2, H5, H6, H7, H8, H10/Biology H6, H7, H8, H12, H13, H14, H15, H16 ) Your visit to the outer Great Barrier Reef and Michaelmas Cay gives you another opportunity to discuss marine geomorphology with your marine naturalist. On your journey out, students learn more about ecotourism, ecosystem management and both what a specific tourism operator is doing as well as what operators nationwide are doing to protect the reef. Students are taught indicators of reef health and examine the factors that place ecosystems at risk. Students explore the cay’s fringing reef and the outer reef system and in teams perform different data collection techniques, including species counts, calculating benthos coverage, and identifying coral predators. Students then learn how coral predators negatively affect the reef system, and then learn in the water how these predators are eradicated.
Data collected by the students can then be taken back to the class room where it can be analysed and synthesised for a geographical enquiry. You will also receive a Great Barrier Marine Park Authority report that includes your data; these statistics will also help students with their geographical analyses.
Aboriginal Guided Rainforest Walk: (Geography H2, H5, H6/Biology H7, H8) On this 1.5 hour walk students are taken into the Mossman section of the Daintree NP with a member of the Kuku-Yalanji tribe. The Aboriginal guide explains the traditional uses of the rainforest and what plants served as medicine, food, utilitarian goods and weaponry. The management of Mossman Gorge also makes a great case study of an Indigenous eco tourism venture. The Mossman Gorge Centre provides training to Indigenous Australians in areas like tourism and hospitality that equip them for jobs with other employers in the region and across Australia.
James Cook Uni Canopy Crane: (Geography H8, H7, H10, H11/Biology H1, H2, H4, H5, H12, H14) At the JCU research station, students receive a presentation about the Wet Tropics biodiversity and the station’s role in research. In the canopy crane, students are taken silently 47m above the forest floor to the rainforest canopy where researchers do their fieldwork. Here they get a perspective of the spatial dimensions of the rainforest that is very rarely experienced and have views that extend out to the ocean and toward the Great Barrier Reef. Students also develop fieldwork skills at the site’s revegetation area. The area was replanted in the last few years and students collect data on tree height using clinometers, tree girth by using DBH tapes, herbivory and overall tree health to determine the success of the project. This project also helps students look at the nature and rate of change and biophysical interactions like invasion, succession, modifications and resilience.
Skyrail with Sustainability Seminar: (Geography H1, H2, H12/Biology H7, H16) A trip on the Skyrail takes students above the rainforest canopy to highlight the location, altitude, size, shape and continuity of this section of the Wet Tropics. You will see the Barron Falls where you can observe geomorphic and hydrologic processes. In particular, students can witness how a mass eco-tourism product can be run in a World Heritage Listed National Park, the tight regulations that the Skyrail must adhere to and what practices are in place to successfully minimize human impacts on the rainforest.
Development Debate: (Geography H2, H5, H6, H9, H12, H13/Biology H7, H8 ,H14) During this debate students examine a current development issue facing the Cairns region:the building of Aquis mega resort and casino. During the debate students are asked to examine the factors which place ecosystems at risk, evaluate the environmental strategies that have been put forward in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), discuss human impacts, evaluate the responses of different special interest groups for and against the development and finally form an opinion and communicate their response to the group.
Australian National Curriculum- Geography
While this trip has been designed to cater for NSW geography and biology students, its delivery can be tailored to geography students in junior years studying the Australian National Curriculum. The trip can also be designed to incorporate fieldwork to cover Geography Inquiry Skills outcomes.
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.
- ACHGK071: The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples approaches to custodial responsibility and environmental management in different regions of Australia.
- 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.
- ACHGK049: The aesthetic, cultural and spiritual value of landscapes and landforms for people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
- 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.
How your trip supports the community
SUPPORTING LOCAL 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. We are proud to say that in 2013-14, we gave over $24,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures.
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: 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.
SUPPORTING LOCAL HOMELESS YOUTH: We donate to Harald’s House for homeless and disadvantaged youth in Cairns. For more information on Herald’s House and other organisations to which we donate, see Philanthropy and Partnerships.
How your trip is “Eco-friendly”
HELPING THE REEF: Having students cover a large area of the reef site collecting data greatly increases the chances of coral predators being discovered. Your water quality measuring and coral predator data collection at the reef shows long term trends, which helps the Great Barrier Reef Marine park Authority evaluate overall reef health.
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. For more information on how we donate to The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and other environmental groups, see Philanthropy and Partnerships.
CARBON OFFSETTING: We calculate the total carbon footprint of your trip. Then we pay Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offset your emissions by investing in environmental and community-based projects. For more information about our carbon offsetting, see 10 Reasons Why We’re Eco.
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 have a complete Crisis Management Plan, we assess risks of the tour and are happy to complete a risk assessment for you upon request. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during orientation, along with a card with emergency numbers, accommodation addresses and phone numbers.
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.
“All aspects of the trip were satisfying - seeing the students enjoying the experience and learning in the process! Maggie [SWJ marine biologist] was the best - her knowledge and ability to discuss many and varied aspects of the excursion with the students was amazing - don't lose her! She was also ready to change itineraries if we felt it was a good suggestion. Her ability to answer the kids' questions or find answers for the next day was appreciated. I was pleasantly surprised having experienced backpacker hotels in the past - it was clean, relatively quiet, well located for our needs. Staff very helpful and I have no reason to suggest the need for change. I was comfortable with the staff input at all levels and appreciated all they did to make our trip the success it was. I would (and already have) recommended Small World Journeys to other school groups thinking of travelling to Cairns.”
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