About

Home » About

A tour operator that loves teachers
(and caffeine)

The Small World team is a collection of educators, guides and tourism experts who, in many cases, drink a heck of a lot of coffee. This is because we are insanely dedicated to meeting your educational goals and providing a ridiculously high level of customer service.

“A professional and well-organised trip from start to finish. Materials and experiences matched description. The fact that we had everything so planned was amazing. Guides were personable, energetic and very knowledgeable. Small World Journeys was recommended by everyone we spoke to”.

– David Brennan, teacher, Wollongong School of the Performing Arts, NSW (Oct ’18)

“A professional and well-organised trip from start to finish. Materials and experiences matched description. The fact that we had everything so planned was amazing. Guides were personable, energetic and very knowledgeable. Small World Journeys was recommended by everyone we spoke to”. – David Brennan, teacher, Wollongong School of the Performing Arts, NSW (Oct ’18)

  • 25
    trees planted
    last year
  • 100
    corals surveyed for
    health and bleaching
  • 10
    kilos of rubbish cleared
    from mangroves
  • 75
    comfort packs made
    for the homeless
  • 10
    pads sewn for
    indigenous women

Our Team

Our team is made up of very different nice folks,
but the one thing that unites us is our love of teaching young people.
Most of us have university degrees – and in some cases masters
degrees and PhDs – with years of tourism expertise to boot. This means
we are good at teaching your students about zooxanthellae with flotsam
jelly fish AND ensuring your hotel pillow is fluffy.

Laurie Pritchard
Laurie Pritchard
Owner/Managing Director & Disco Queen
Laurie founded Small World Journeys in 2008. Educated at the Cranbrook-Kingswood School and the University of South Florida in the USA and L’Institut de Touraine in France, Laurie also held a university teaching post in far western China...
A love of the outdoors led to 12 years working for and developing adventure trips for organisations like The World Outdoors, Adventures Cross-Country and People to People Student Ambassador Programs in the USA, and RnR Adventures in Australia.   Laurie was a field instructor for the Outward-Bound School, leading educational wilderness expeditions for disadvantaged and at-risk youth and she was also the Wilderness Director for Oak Creek Ranch School.   In addition to her Bachelor’s Degree, she holds a Diploma of Tourism from Far North Queensland TAFE and is a certified Bronze Medallion. Laurie has travelled to over 40 countries, and her articles about travel have appeared in magazines such as Transitions Abroad, Real Travel and on The Travel Channel’s World Hum. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid, has a Yellow Card for working with people with disabilities and has a Bronze Medallion.   In 2017, she was the regional winner for Institute of Manager and Leaders’ Owner/Entrepreneur category, and was named the CBWC Cairns Small Business Woman of the Year.
Natasha Willis
Natasha Willis
Groups Coordinator & Dazzling Decorator
Natasha got her start in the Cairns tourism industry working as a travel consultant at the Cairns Visitor Information Centre. She was responsible for selling Cairns and FNQ tourism products to overseas travellers and Cairns locals. Her education includes sales training through the Australian National Sales...
Academy and Business Administration through Hall Green Technical College in the UK. Natasha is also completing her Diploma in Project Management at TAFE Queensland and she is a member of the Australia Institute of Project Management. Natasha spent 16 years as an account executive with the WIN Network/Channel 9 and it was here she cultivated business relationships all over the Cairns region. Natasha is hyper organised and superb at time management after years having to meet tight deadlines. She is a lover of interior design and DIY projects and enjoys transforming spaces into visually stunning rooms. She has travelled to most places within Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Botswana, South Africa UK & Europe, & The United Arab Emirates.
George Woodleigh
George Woodleigh
Guide & Story Teller Extraordinaire
George is a Cairns-area local, with his Aboriginal ancestry (Yidinji) tracing back thousands of years in this region. George has explored almost every inch of Queensland, from the rainforests of the Wet Tropics to the tip of Cape York Peninsula. He has worked as a tour guide, public servant and even ran his own...
coach touring business. George loves teaching visitors about Australian flora, fauna, and biodiversity, and he is especially fond of teaching young people about his culture. George has three grown children and lives with his wife Alice, and loves both rugby league and country music. He has travelled to far flung locations such as the Philippines, and the home of country music, Nashville USA.
Karen Chopping
Karen Chopping
Guide and Gymnastics Guru
When it comes to tour guiding, Karen has decades under her belt.  Karen boasted seventeen seasons as a tour manager for the People to People Ambassador programs through Contiki, looking after the well being of young people who were discovering...
Australia.  Karen also worked for Scenic Tours in two capacities: Tour Director and Ground Operations Manager in Australia, New Zealand, Canada.  Additionally, Karen has served as the go-to Cairns local tour guide for Abercrombie & Kent, Globus & Cosmos, and EF Education First.  Karen has an Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Accreditation from CSU, a Kakadu National Park Tour Guide Accreditation from Charles Darwin University, and is a member of the Tour Guides Association (TGA).  Having worked with dozens of different nationalities, and working in such colourful places as Tahiti, Fiji and Zimbabwe, Karen is a masterful diplomat and host. Karen has two children, and in her early life was a certified trapeze instructor.
Azri Saparwan
Azri Saparwan
Marine Biologist & Master Reef Guide
Azri is one of our Master Reef Guides and is presently working on his PhD. He grew up in South Australia, and his love of the sea took him frequently to the water. Azri studied at Flinders University (Bachelor of Science) where he attained high distinction for his degree in...
marine biology. In Singapore Azri provided in-depth guided tours of one of the largest oceanariums in the world. It was here he was involved in animal husbandry, monitoring stress and disease on the fish population. Azri was the Volunteer Coordinator for Reef Restoration Foundation for the Great Barrier Reef, which includes coordinating volunteers in assisting maintenance of coral nursery and monitoring of individual coral growth and survival. He is also the founder of Sukamade Turtle Refuge, a non-profit organisation as an initiative to gather volunteers to aid rangers during the busiest period at a prominent sea turtle rookery in Sukamade, Banyuwangi, Indonesia. Azri is a Paramedic Level 1 with the Singapore Armed Forces, and a rescue SCUBA diver.
Olivia Wycherley
Olivia Wycherley
Guide & Prolific Painter
Having grown up in Far North Queensland, Olivia has had many years exploring the hidden waterfalls, forests and community activities. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree (Physiology & Pharmacology) from James Cook University, where she graduated with distinction...
Olivia has been a youth mentor and guide for Wise Earth Bush School in New South Wales where she was proud to be part of a team facilitating early-learning skills for young children, fostering their personal development and connection to the natural world. In this role as well as in her roles teaching therapeutic dance classes and working at camps for teenagers with disabilities, Olivia has specifically developed an ability to watch over large groups while remaining engaged in activity, concurrently sensing group dynamics and assessing safety. Olivia is trained in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), and has taught in Guatemala, India and Thailand. She has also worked supporting retreat centres in Mexico and Brazil. While Olivia did specifically research local stories of Bundjalung Nation (New South Wales) in order to develop games and conceptual learning for youths of the Bush School she has now returned to the study of local Yidinji stories.
Ros Peric
Ros Peric
Guide & Bat Buddy
Ros received a diploma of Higher Education from James Cook University in Cairns, and has gone on to study environmental science (biodiversity assessment and management) there as well. Ros has been both a tour guide for a nature photography company and...
also an “invertebrate keeper” with MiniBeast Wildlife. Ros is just as comfortable under the sea as she is on land, having worked closely with a team of coral restoration specialists to communicate challenges and outcomes of Reef Restoration Foundation’s efforts at the Great Barrier Reef. Ros has hand-reared orphaned wildlife at Batreach Kuranda, and is an enthusiastic presenter on all things wild. She is a rescue diver, a keen photographer, and her secret skill is gold & silversmithing.

Shuko Murray-Prior
Shuko Murray-Prior
Groups Coordinator and Shakespeare "Shukki"
Originally from Japan, Shuko has called Australia home for 22 years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature in Japan, as well as a diploma in Hospitality Management in Sydney. Shuko has extensive experience in tourism and hospitality. She worked...
as the Japanese Guest Relations at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney and then as a Groups Coordinator at Shangri-La Hotel in Cairns, coordinating the dozens of details involved in preparing for groups. Shuko has an English teacher license she earned in Japan, as well as a tour guide license. Shuko’s extensive knowledge of Cairns tourism stems from her 13 years at The Mantra Group, where she advised guests on the myriad tours and sites to enjoy in the region. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid. Shuko enjoys camping and hiking and has travelled in China, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
Elizabeth Stevens
Elizabeth Stevens
Groups Coordinator and African Adventurer
Elizabeth Stevens (Liz) is well equipped to organise all aspects of our tours, having a Bachelor’s Degree in International Tourism Management from the university of Surrey (with first class honours). Liz started her career as the first point of contact in emergencies for a sheltered housing scheme, managing units...
which required learning calmness under pressure and high-level judgement. Liz also worked as a front desk agent at Hilton Gatwick, which is one of the biggest and busiest hotels in the UK.  Liz followed her heart to Australia, but before she could get her career started in Victoria, COVID hit. So she traded her scarf for overalls and worked some hard yards at a dairy farm, enjoying a complete change of scenery whilst she rode out the pandemic. Next Liz joined Flight Centre as a travel consultant and then eventually found her way to Small World.  Liz loves swimming, diving and cross-stitching. She has travelled to most countries in Europe, extensively through Southeast Asia, and the far corners of Africa such as Tunisia, Malawi and Rwanda.  
Dr. Glen Burns
Dr. Glen Burns
Marine Biologist & Erudite Educator
After receiving his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1984, Glen took up a position as a Research Fellow for the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. Based in Cairns, Glen did his research focused on the population ecology and reproductive biology of sea snakes. Over the past 30 years Glen has travelled...
extensively throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific Region, Africa, South East Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean in an effort to gain a perspective on human impact on tropical marine ecosystems around the world. He has lectured at the University of Long Island in New York and is the author of several scientific articles. For 12 years Glen taught the Tropical Marine Science Program for Long Island University bringing American university students to Australia to study marine ecology on the Great Barrier Reef. Living with his family in Florida for 5 years, Glen taught Marine Biology and Environmental Science at the university level before returning to Australia. Glen's work aims to help conserve coral reefs on a global scale by examining sustainable uses for coral reef systems and then promoting the adoption of these alternatives through education. Glen is also a Master Reef Guide - a highly coveted role obtained only after a rigorous selection and training process through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Kylie Michell
Kylie Michell
Sydney Guide & Italiaphile
Kylie is our Sydney-based guide: she loves showing visitors the hidden and unusual corners of Sydney, and her two children keep her busy discovering more. Kylie got her start as a guide in 1994 with Contiki which gave her a sound background in managing of...
young people and an intimate knowledge of Australia’s entire east coast. Kylie then went on to train tour guides for Contiki’s head office in Sydney, and even taught tour guiding at an adult college. Kylie studied mass communications at Macquarie University in Sydney, and obtained her NAATI accreditation as an interpreter which has led to work in Italian as well as French. Kylie has also recently completed a course on the colonial history of Sydney, which has added a new dimension to her knowledge of the city. Although Kylie spent her youth in Florence, Italy, having attended the American School there, she is an Aussie through and through. Consequently, Kylie is just as comfortable sipping a cappuccino at a cafe as a beer in a country pub.
Darryl Schwilk
Darryl Schwilk
Marine Biologist & Terrific Teacher
Darryl has both a Bachelor of Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Science (Marine Zoology) from James Cook University in Cairns. Having spent a significant amount of time in his youth on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, Cairns and Mackay, Darryl has been in...
and around water his whole life and has devoted the last 15 years to teaching biology, marine and junior science to high school students at Cairns High School. Additionally, Darryl is a trainer / assessor for Royal Life Saving Queensland and for First Aid Academy Cairns as well as a PADI SCUBA instructor. He is also a qualified boatsafe trainer / assessor, a marine radio invigilator, and Chairman of the Peninsula Boating Committee. When on land, Darryl enjoys playing volleyball.
Leanne Hayter
Leanne Hayter
Sydney Guide & Super Singer
Lee has Sydney in her blood. She has volunteered as an “Aquarist” at the Sydney Aquarium, worked as a trainer at Taronga Zoo to teach employees about tour excellence, and developed and delivered tours focusing on Aboriginal and colonial heritage for the Paramatta City Council. She continues her work...
at Taronga Zoo conducting guided tours and assisting on educational programs for young people. As an active member of the Professional Tour Guide Association Australia (PTGAA) and Guiding Organisation Australia (GOA), Lee has made it her life to introduce visitors to the wonders of Australia. Lee has a Certificate IV in guiding, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Certificate III in Tourism under her belt. She serves as board member of Savannah Guides, and has attended guide training schools from the Wet Tropics to the eastern cape of South Africa. One of her many talents is organising volunteer activities for school holidays and special events. When Lee is not guiding visitors around Sydney, she is rocking out with her bass guitar and her band Something Else Trio.
Mike Jarvis
Mike Jarvis
Guide & Birdman
Having run tours with his own business “Experience The Wild” for ten years, Mike is a consummate professional guide. He gained experience leading tourists on day trips as well as extended expeditions up to 13 days. Prior to running his own business, Mike was a guide in the...
Northern Territory for Fisherking Safaris, All Guides and Darwin Harbour Cruises. More recently, Mike led international guests on extended tours including locations in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. As a birdwatching expert, Mike can identify even the most peculiar calls, and he’s also trained in working with venomous snakes.  Mike has completed coursework on interpreting aspects of local Indigenous culture as well as a Certification IV in Tourism. Mike’s interests include sailing and photography.

Rachael MacLeod
Rachael MacLeod
Programs Manager and Turtle Whisperer
Rachael is our Queensland queen: having been born and raised in the Sunshine State, she is an outback girl at heart. With a diploma in Event Management from James Cook University, Rachael is a planner extraordinaire...
She has organised functions, festivals and major events from wedding expos to school camps from Toowoomba to Cairns. Rachael also honed her skills with young people after obtaining a Certificate III in Youth Work and facilitating regional youth programs for Council. She continued on working in tourism and hospitality, finding her niche as Function & Events Manager at the world’s oldest and largest operating woolshed of its kind.  Rachael had fun for over four years organising schools and groups on day visits and multi-day stays at this historic venue, where students could learn damper making and Australian history, witness blacksmithing and beekeeping and of course, watch the sheep shearing.  Whereas once Rachael’s wild side involved her in amateur competition drag racing, she now prefers camping, hiking, and training for Cairns Ironman and other running events.  Rachael is also an active volunteer at the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, helping sick and injured turtles, and is on the Cairns and Far North Environmental Centre Marine Response Team.
Hannah Kennedy
Hannah Kennedy
Sustainability Officer and Trash Queen
Hannah obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, Environmental Studies, and Conservation Biology in the USA. She then completed her Masters of Science degree in Marine Biology at Far North Queensland’s James Cook University. Hannah’s enthusiasm for conservation continued when she began work as a Marine Education...
Coordinator at the Pigeon Key Foundation and Marine Science Centre in the Florida Keys, USA. She organised multi-day school trips and summer camps, overseeing educational programs, guiding off-island excursions, and managing group logistics. During her four years there, she focused on making the marine science centre more sustainable by implementing recycling, replacing single-use plastic items with eco-friendly alternatives, and developing the marine debris program. In her more recent role as Senior Project Coordinator at Australia’s Tangaroa Blue Foundation, she coordinated community beach clean-ups and marine debris monitoring, engagement events, and sourced reduction projects. Hannah has built and maintained professional relationships with a diverse community of volunteers, not-for-profit organisations, government entities, and corporations, along with relationships with many Traditional Custodians and Ranger groups in Far North Queensland. Hannah has volunteered with the Townsville Chapter of Sea Shepherd Marine Debris as well as with the Billabong Animal Sanctuary in Townsville. Hannah is a lover of all animals and a keen SCUBA diver.  
Lance Tapsell
Lance Tapsell
Operations Coordinator and Office Tough Guy
Lance has the good fortune to be both good with his brain and good with his hands. He has worked as a network engineer, programmer and trainer for a diverse range of companies—including Curtain University in Perth and Foothills Hospital in Canada. Lance has also spent many years driving tour buses...
coaches and limousines for companies that cater to tourists in Far North Queensland. In addition, Lance spent 15 years in a consulting role with a focus on West Africa, Asia and Australia. He is no stranger to getting his hands dirty and he’s a get-things-done kind of guy. Both his organisation skills and knowledge of mechanics make him the perfect man to oversee the operational side of the business. Lance boasts a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, Medium Rigid license, Queensland Driver’s Authority and First Aid/CPR qualifications. He is a certified marriage celebrant, the former president of the Calgary Parachute Club, and has travelled every corner of Canada and the USA.
Rick Hall
Rick Hall
Guide & Rubber Spider Tamer
As a former researcher for the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Rick has spent many years up close to Australian fauna. He was involved with frog monitoring and mammal surveys, which eventually led to his profession as a naturalist. Rick also conducted...
extensive field research and interpretation programs on sea turtle biology at the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery. Rick is a true-blue Aussie bloke born and bred in Queensland, and he knows the Aussie “bush” intimately. Having worked as a full-time naturalist guide from the coast to the outback for many years, Rick is also a superb generalist with an enthusiasm for camping, teaching, and working with young people. Working with companies such as Australian Wild Escapes and Wilderness Eco Safaris further honed his group management and “tour guiding” skills. His travels have taken him through South America and Papua New Guinea, and his time with Australia’s Indigenous people created a fondness for playing the didgeridoo.
Ashaya Snedden
Ashaya Snedden
Guide & Speaker for The Trees
As a Cairns region local, Ashaya’s relationship with the rainforest began when she was quite young. She has worked as an environmental field officer, a landscaper, and in forestry with a regeneration program in both Queensland and New Zealand...
Ashaya is currently obtaining her conservation land and ecosystem management certificate through TAFE, and she is a certified Wet Tropics Tour Guide. Ashaya’s knowledge of Far North Queensland even extends to her knowledge about the Indigenous Djabugay language and culture. Although she has a chainsaw operator’s certification, Ashaya speaks for the trees. She has spent much of her time propagating seeds and planting trees in both a natural and landscaping environments. Ashaya is mother to an 8-year-old son, and has travelled extensively through South America and Southeast Asia.
Robert Poole
Robert Poole
Marine Guide & Aquaman
Our marine guide Robert is our real-life Aquaman, bearing a close resemblance to actor Jason Momoa. Robert studied marine environments at Southern Cross University, graduating with a diploma in Environmental Science.Having grown up on the central coast of New South Wales...
Robert indulged in marine exploration. He was lucky enough to have the ocean in his backyard, where he discovered his love for little penguins and nudibranchs.  Robert is naturally a keen SCUBA diver and documents marine life on film. He is a certified aquatic Bronze Medallion, certified also in boat driving and oxygen resuscitation. Robert has 2 sons and has travelled to far flung destinations such as Egypt, Thailand, Singapore, Bali, Java, Vietnam, New Zealand.
Jessie Rhodes
Jessie Rhodes
Guide and Swim Scholar
Jess is our amphibious guide: she is skilled both in the water and on land. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports & Social Science from the University of Bath and has spent years teaching young people how to swim and be safe in the water. Jess holds a Level 1 & 2 ASA...
and Australia Swim Certifications counts Ironman athletes, members of the United Arab Emirates royal family and two junior Commonwealth swimmers from the Kenyan national team as clients. Jess is also a professional “digital coordinator”, having produced and developed marketing campaigns and social media strategies for a major Cairns tour company. In that role she also utilised her skills as a certified drone pilot to capture the beauty of Far North Queensland. While she grew up in the United Kingdom, Jess has travelled the globe and now considers Cairns to be her home.

our
Vision

To be Australia’s premier provider of education for youth outside the classroom.

Who we sponsor and support (and sometimes kiss)

Our goal is to leave our community better because we exist, not despite it. We want to ensure the sustainability of the communities in which our guests travel. This is why Small World Journeys has committed at least 5% of net profits each year to support non-profit community and environmental organisations. We also give kisses for free.

Rainforest Rescue

Small World Journeys has given over $5,000 to Rainforest Rescue to support the adoption of rainforest land at risk. Every...

Small World Journeys has given over $5,000 to Rainforest Rescue to support the adoption of rainforest land at risk. Every group that visits the Daintree Rainforest receives a certificate detailing that every $10 donated helps to propagate, grow, and maintain a native tree for one year through Rainforest Rescue’s plant a rainforest project.

Rainforest Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation that has been protecting and restoring rainforests in Australia and internationally since 1998. Their projects re-establish rainforests through planting, maintenance and restoration programs, as well as purchasing and protecting high conservation value rainforest and preserving its biodiversity.  See www.rainforestrescue.org.au to see how you can help.

Visit website
Rainforest Rescue

Reef Restoration Foundation

We are a proud sponsor of a coral propagation tree at The Great Barrier Reef through Reef Restoration Foundation (RRF)....

We are a proud sponsor of a coral propagation tree at The Great Barrier Reef through Reef Restoration Foundation (RRF). Additionally every one of our groups that visits the reef at Fitzroy Island gets a coral adopted in their name by Small World. RRF is a not-for-profit social enterprise creating optimism for the Great Barrier Reef through innovative coral reef restoration techniques. RRF established the very first ocean-based coral nursery in the Great Barrier Reef to regenerate damaged coral reefs in December 2017 at Fitzroy Island, Cairns and have plans to install a series of other nurseries throughout the Great Barrier Reef.

Cuttings of corals that survived the two recent bleaching events were harvested from a nearby reef and attached to coral tree frames – one of which Small World Journeys sponsored – which accelerates the growth of the corals. This is an unprecedented project on The Great Barrier Reef. The work of the team at RRF and its many volunteers are giving hope to the future of the reef. Small World staff has also regularly volunteered for the Foundation.  See rrf.org.au to see how you can help.

Visit website
Reef Restoration Foundation

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Since 2012, Small World Journeys has given over $50,000 to The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island to support...

Since 2012, Small World Journeys has given over $50,000 to The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island to support the continued care of sick and injured sea turtles in the Cairns region. Every group who visits the Centre receives a certificate detailing the donation Small World Journeys has made on their behalf.

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island (CTRC) is a volunteer operated, non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles. The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles. A number of these are seriously threatened by a diverse range of natural and, more significantly, human induced factors. Small World staff has also regularly volunteered for the Centre.  See www.cairnsturtlerehab.org.au to see how you can help.

Visit website
Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Rosies Friends on The Street

Small World Journeys’ groups participate in a community service project to help patrons of Rosies. Rosies Friends on The Street...

Small World Journeys’ groups participate in a community service project to help patrons of Rosies. Rosies Friends on The Street is a not-for-profit organisation that reaches out to those most in need, those people who are abandoned, marginalised, socially isolated within our community.

Rosies patrons are in need of food, hygiene items and perhaps most importantly, someone to talk to who will be a non-judgemental friend.

Small World Journeys’ students create comfort packs for these patrons that both they and Small World have donated, and they also learn how to upcycle materials into tote bags to hold the hygiene items. Small World staff has also regularly volunteered for the Centre. See rosies.org.au to see you you can help.

Visit website
Rosies Friends on The Street

Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners

We humbly 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, which include the Yirrganydji, Yidinji, Kuku Yalanji, and Djabugay people.

We were inspired by the beautiful artwork of local indigenous artist Colin Higgins – painter and musician from Yarrabah. We commissioned Colin for the use of his painting (symbolising the world in the dry season) and are grateful for his contribution to Small World Journeys

0
location_icon
Home
WordPress Image Lightbox