Ecosystems at Risk: Rainforests – 4 Days
Ecology and Geography Studies in the Tropical Rainforest
The Wet Tropics is not only a UNESCO World Heritage area, but is home of the world’s oldest continually growing rainforest, The Daintree. You will find nature is at its most bountiful here, patchwork of greens and emeralds, dotted with giant fan palms and wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. Indigenous culture is intimately woven into these rainforest places, and the local Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people will share some of their practices with you. Your naturalist guide will lead you on exploratory walks and a discovery of the plants and animals that inhabit this very special ecosystem at risk. This school tour to the Daintree is sure to enchant your students.
- Collect data about tree health at a rainforest research station
- Learn about protected area management and climate change from a guest speaker
- Soar high above the Daintree rainforest in JCU’s canopy crane
- Discover medicinal and edible plants with Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal guides
- Follow the evolution of plants on the Botanic Gardens’ Gondwana walk with a botanist
- Spend the night among the chatter and life in the jungle
Benefits & Bonuses:
- All accommodation, meals, guides and transport to activities included
- Risk assessment provided
- Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
- Expert 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, Botanic Gardens with Botanist 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 speaker may be 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 Wi-Fi.
Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Day 2: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Rainforest Walk with Aboriginal Guides 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 Cabin Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 3: Environmental Debate, James Cook University Research Station Service Project and Canopy Crane
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. (Please note students must be at least 15 years old to participate.)
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.
Scenic Drive & Farewell Dinner: Your drive back to Cairns is along the scenic Captain Cook Highway and you will be able to stop at some lookouts along the way for a photo opportunity. You have a final farewell dinner in town tonight with an optional visit to the Night Markets.
Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4: Free Time, Optional Urban Challenge and Departure
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!
School Excursion Fees Include:
- All activities as described in the itinerary
- Cairns airport transfers
- Transportation to activities
- Small World Journeys guide on Days 2-3
- 2 nights central Cairns hostel (single gender dorm-style rooms with ensuites)*
- 1 night Daintree Rainforest beachfront lodge (single gender dorm-style basic cabins with ensuites) *
- All continental breakfasts
- All lunches
- All dinners (except on arrival day)
- 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
- Small World Journeys reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag
- National Park and Marine Park taxes and levies
- 5 metre-square rainforest plot adopted in your group’s name
- Carbon offsetting through Sustainable Travel International (STI) for a carbon-neutral trip
*Two teacher rooms (private twin or triple share rooms with ensuite) are included in the trip price. A supplement of $280 AUD is charged if an additional private room is required. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.
School Excursion Fees Exclude:
- Airfare to Cairns
- Dinner on arrival day
- Personal expenses (phone, souvenirs, laundry, etc.)
Land Cost to 31 March 2018:
- 15 + participants: $759 AUD
- (low numbers) 10-14 participants: $798 AUD
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. (Upgrade to hotel accommodation available, see inclusions tab). In the Daintree Rainforest, students stay in single-gender quad share cabins with ensuites – 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 $65 per person
All meals 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 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.
Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.
HOW TO BOOK A TRIP WITH US (It’s easy!):
- Read our Terms and Conditions.
- 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.
- Receive our Confirmation Pack which includes forms parents must sign.
- Have each student sign up via our Booking Form and pay for their trip by 60 days prior to the trip.
- Enjoy your trip!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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.
Question 10: What kind of insurance do you have in place?
Answer: Small World Journeys has public liability insurance up to $20,000,000 and is required for us to maintain our commercial permits for the national parks.
School Tour to the Daintree – Educational Outcomes: NSW Stage 6 Geography
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 see the Barron Falls where you can observe geomorphic and hydrologic processes. The sustainability seminar addresses contemporary management with the Skyrail as a case study. In particular, students learn 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 being implemented 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 student trip to the Daintree has been designed to cater for the NSW Senior Geography course, 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 the financial year of 2015-16, we gave over $28,000 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”
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.
“Seeing students get an appreciation for natural ecosystems [was our favourite thing] and the range of species that we came across. Small World Journeys was great, easy to work with and guides were very good, informative and helpful. Thanks for a great trip!”
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