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 climate change expert 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.


  • Presentations by researchers, scientists and/or James Cook University professors
  • Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and collecting coral bleaching & predator data
  • Visits to a wind farm, bio-dynamic dairy and a university research station
  • Role playing and debating a local controversial environmental issue
  • 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
  • Optional “green” school visit to see other students’ sustainability initiatives

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 Introduction: First activity is a workshop to explore students’ perceptions of “green” and sustainability. Facilitated by Small World Journeys’ owner, Laurie Pritchard, this fun activity quizzes students on their current understanding of sustainability and introduces new concepts, all in a game show-type format.  The game creates thought-provoking concepts as well as plenty of laughs, which is a good tone set for the rest of the trip.

Expert Speaker: The  expert speaker you have today depends on the availability of speakers on your chosen date of visit. Speakers provide insight on global and regional issues such as protected area management, climate change and human impacts. James Cook University professors like Steve Turton (climate change specialist) or Terry Carmichael (consultant to the Wet Tropics Management Authority) give depth to your knowledge of sustainability.

Accommodation: Your accommodation is 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, pool table, large kitchen for self-catering meals and free internet and WiFi.

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 a Meal and Hygiene Packs: Today a café opens its doors to you to give you space to prepare a meal for the homeless.  With Small World Journeys staff guidance, you use donated food to prepare a meal that will be served to needy people tonight.  During food prep, staff teach you how to make special bags using upcycled materials (which helps them save money!) You then put food and 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.

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

Day 4: Wildlife Park Behind-The-Scenes, Aboriginal-Guided Walk and Daintree Rainforest

Day 4: 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, games lounge, guest laundry, BBQ area, and a superb location in the rainforest. The lodge also uses gray water for irrigation, locally-sourced food for its restaurant, and recycles 80% of its waste. The accommodation manager also gives your group a talk about the lodge’s sustainability initiatives. Students sleep four to a cabin, and the sounds of the jungle surround you.

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

Day 5: Environmental Debate, JCU Research Station Service Project and Beach BBQ

Day 5: Environmental Debate, JCU Research Station 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. 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.

Service Project: Next you visit James Cook University’s rainforest research station where you participate in an important service project. 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
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6: Global Food Security & Sustainability Workshop and Reef Presentation

Day 6: Global Food Security & Sustainability Workshop and Reef Presentation

Aquaponics Activities: Today’s activities center around the theme of global food security. 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 can 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, food security and sustainability and to show students how, through principles of permaculture, anyone can be self-sufficient.

Marine Biologist Reef Presentation: In the evening you attend a unique presentation taught by a marine biologist, in 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) fueled by Hollywood myths. You leave with a greater understanding of the reef environment and an appreciation of the natural wonder you are about to experience.

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

Day 7: The Great Barrier Reef – Snorkelling, Data Collection and Community Service

Day 7: The Great Barrier Reef – Snorkelling, Data Collection and 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 and an award in sustainability. 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 coral bleaching, agricultural runoff to the reef or effects of climate change and human impacts.

Eye on the Reef & Data Collection: At your first snorkelling location, you  receive extensive in-water training on how to conduct the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Rapid Monitoring Survey. Your guide points 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.

Water Quality Sampling:  As you train to measure water quality, you also learn how consistent measuring at the reef shows long term trends, which in turn is a good predictor of overall reef health. This involves training in taking water temperature readings and vertical visibility readings using a Secchi disc.

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.

Field Guide & Sightings App: 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef, written by our guide Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand the underwater world and is yours to keep. You also learn how to log in sightings of your reef fauna and flora using an app downloadable to your phone or tablet, and your data is then sent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

You return to Cairns in the late afternoon and have a delicious dinner on the town to celebrate the week’s adventures.

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

Day 8: Optional Sustainability Amazing Race and Departure

Day 8: 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



OPTION: Sustainable School Visit

OPTION: Sustainable School Visit

Visit a local school that is doing great things in the area of sustainability and serving as a model to other regional schools. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by the school principal, and then shown the initiatives the school is involved in. Sustainability projects take on a whole school approach, aligning with its environmental management plan, with examples including energy efficiency, water management, hydroponic gardens and biodiversity projects. This is a great way to how learn how all students are active participants in protecting the environment, as well as experience the cutting-edge programs of far north Queensland schools. (Price on application)

Is this sustainability-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 1-6
  • Small World Journeys marine biologist Day 7
  • Eco marine naturalist at the reef
  • 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
  • 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
  • Carbon offsetting through Sustainable travel International (STI) for a carbon-neutral trip

* 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 – our travel agent can arrange this!
  • 1 dinner
  • Personal expenses (phone, internet, laundry, etc.)


  • Optional photo with koala (~$18)
  • Optional “Green” school visit to observe sustainability efforts (POA)

Land Cost to 31 March 2018:

  • 15+ participants: $2226 AUD
  • 10-14 participants: $2360 AUD


All accommodation is included. In Cairns, you stay at a breezy award-winning hostel in the centre of the restaurant and shopping district (option to upgrade to hotel accommodation). 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. 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 and Conditions.
  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 our Confirmation Pack which includes forms parents must sign.
  4. Have each student sign up via our Booking Form and pay for their trip by 60 days prior to the trip.
  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.

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 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: 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.

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”

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. You also help the rainforest directly by participating in a community service project at a rainforest research station.

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 Partnership.

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. In the 2015 calendar year, we offset 68.5348 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  We also run the Small World Journeys’ office completely on solar power! 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.  Please also ask us for references on the quality of our community service projects.

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 community service projects and then we complete a risk assessment for you. 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.