Community Service & Sustainability

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 In Aboriginal Culture, Cairns & The Great Barrier Reef, Community Service, Ecosystems, Environmental Studies, Leadership, Marine Science, Sustainability, Tours

Community Service & Sustainability

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.

Length
11 Days/10 Nights
Location
Cairns, Australia
When
Year-round
Size
Minimum 10 paying participants
Price
$3197 AUD per person (including GST)
for 15 or more students (Add $50 per person for peak time of 15 June – 15 July)
Price
$3268 AUD per person (including GST) for 10-14 students (Add $50 per person for peak time of 15 June – 15 July)
for 10-14 students (Add $50 per person for peak time of 15 June – 15 July)

Details

  • Presentations by researchers, scientists and/or James Cook University professors
  • Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and collecting coral bleaching data
  • Visits to a wind farm, bio-dynamic dairy and a university research station
  • Local controversial environmental issue debate
  • 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

  • Risk assessment
  • Cairns airport transfers
  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • All transportation
  • Small World Journeys guide for Days 1-4, 6-7
  • Marine biologist Days 5 & 8
  • Specialty guides and Indigenous educators
  • 6 nights central Cairns budget hotel (3 or 4- share rooms; teachers in twin or triple share)*
  • 1 night outback cattle station (students in single-gender dorm-style accommodation; teachers in cabins)
  • 1 night Daintree eco-lodge (students in single-gender quad-share cabins; teachers in shared cabins)*
  • 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
  • ask, fins, and snorkel on the reef trip
  • National Park and Marine Park taxes and levies
  • Trees for replanting
  • Contents of hygiene packs to be distributed to local homeless and needy people
  • Donation made to Rainforest Rescue on behalf of your group (we give you a certificate on your trip)
  • Reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag
  • Donation made to Reef Restoration Foundation to the “Care for Coral” program on behalf of your group (we give you a certificate on your trip)
  • Starting in 2024: we offset the carbon emissions from your trip activities AND your flight to Cairns!

*Two teacher rooms (private twin or triple share rooms) are included in the trip price for groups of 15 students or more. For trips with low numbers (10-14), one teacher room is included. A supplement is charged if an additional private room is required for the trip. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons. Prices are valid for travel until 31 March, 2025.

  • Airfare to Cairns
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • 1 dinner
  • Personal expenses (phone, laundry, etc.)

Planning Your Trip

ACCESSIBILITY MENU: Small World Journeys’ website provides an accessibility menu. Visitors to our website can click on the “person” icon on the right side of the screen to bring up this menu. Options include increasing/decreasing font size, increasing/decreasing contrast, dyslexia-friendly fonts, and the ability to hide images, among other things.

BOOKING FORM: On our online booking form, we ask all participants to list any special needs they have, be them medical, dietary, or accessibility needs. We also offer free sensory packs to our guests who are neurodivergent, which include headphones, a timer for transitions, a squeezy fidget toy, and other treats to appeal to the senses like flavoured lip balm.

WAIVER FORMS: We understand that not all of our participants’ parents have a strong command of written English and therefore understanding and signing our on-line waiver may prove challenging. We therefore have our wavier form available in the following languages on request: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.

 

Arrival at Cairns Airport

ACCESSIBLE TOILETS: Public toilets are located throughout the terminals. Each toilet facility includes an accessible toilet suitable for wheelchair access.

TGSI and HEARING LOOPS: The Cairns Airport makes use of Tactile Ground Service Indicators (TGSI) and Hearing Loops to assist people with vision impairments and hearing difficulties, respectively.  For example, Braille is included on toilet doors/signs to assist a person with vision impairment locate the correct facility.

ASSISTANCE FOR HIDDEN DISABILITIES: If you or someone you are travelling with has a hidden disability, you can request a hidden disability lanyard through a form here.  Wearing a sunflower lanyard when you are at Cairns Airport is a discreet way for you to indicate to the airport team that you may need a little extra help, guidance or time with the airport processes. The airport team has been trained to recognise the lanyard and provide the assistance and support you may need. Some of the airport staff will also be wearing a Sunflower badge on their shirts or lanyards to help you feel a little more at ease.

VISUAL AND WRITTEN STORY GUIDES: Visual Story Guides are available for Domestic Arrivals and have been designed to help you to understand how an airport works and what to expect. Written Story Guides are also available for Domestic Arrivals.

 

Our Safety Talks

Our arrival safety talk is done verbally but is supported by cards that illustrate the main talking points. Similarly, our snorkelling safety talk is done in the same manner, supported by cards with pictures and illustrations.

We can provide a transcript of our safety talk to any hearing-impaired guest.

 

Transport

Our buses have two steps up of approximately 40 cms to get inside. There is no lift for a wheelchair or mobility device. Similarly, on occasion we hire large coaches for bigger groups and those buses also have two steps up of about 40 cms to get inside. All buses are equipped with seatbelts.

 

Presentations & Workshops

OUR OFFICE & PRESENTATION SPACE: We use the Small World Journeys office space for presentations, workshops and some community service projects. There is a rise of approximately 2 cm to enter the presentation room. We have one accessible, gender-neutral toilet block with shower.

In the outside area of our office, planes fly overhead frequently and the noise can be startling and confronting. However, as part of the terms of construction, the entire building has sound mitigation devices (double glazed windows, etc.) which creates the opportunity for multiple breakout spaces for neuro-divergent people who desire a quiet space with reduced stimuli.

Our presentations are designed to appeal to both visual and auditory learners.   We can provide a transcript of our presentations to any hearing-impaired guest.

NOVOTEL PRESENTATION SPACE: We also use Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort for presentations at dinnertime.

Overall accessible resort information:

  • All entries to the hotel are wheelchair-accessible
  • 2 accessible spaces in the on-site car park, near lifts
  • 1 accessible toilet in hotel lobby (hand rail | grab bar)
  • Most walkways within the hotel are wheelchair-accessible
  • Well-lit main areas
  • All meeting rooms are accessible
  • Braille call buttons for lifts on each floor (external)
  • On-site restaurant & breakfast buffet is mostly accessible – Please ask for assistance at hot food station.


Hotels

FLEXIBILITY WITH ACCOMMODATION: We have flexibility with the accommodation we choose; therefore if we know in advance that we have a guest with a wheelchair, mobility scooter or is short statured, we can choose hotels that cater accordingly.

PREFERRED HOTEL 1:  One of our preferred Cairns hotels is centrally located and one block from the waterfront.  The reception and breakfast room are widely accessible through a double automatic door as there are no steps or thresholds. Accessible guest rooms are all on the ground level.  The staff are happy to move the furniture around if required, and the rooms are fitted with a zipped-together queen bed or two single beds depending on preference. The under-bed clearance is 40mm, and there’s around 1000mm of space between the side of the bed and the wall. Unfortunately, the balconies have sliding door tracks and may not be completely accessible. Light switches are all large dish-style type and located 1000mm from the floor in accessible locations. The air conditioning can be remotely controlled. Moving into the bathroom: the hotel boasts accessible showers and toilets that are hobless and fitted with a fold-down seat. Both horizontal and vertical grab rails are fitted and the shower is home to a hot and cold flick mixer tap. The lifts which provide access to the third accessible room provide ample space for wheelchairs, and also boast buttons fitted with Braille.

PREFERRED HOTEL 2:  A second preferred hotel is also centrally located.  With accessible rooms that boast a double bed and a single bed, the staff at Coral Tree Inn are also happy to move the room furniture around to suit guests who use a wheelchair or mobility device. With a coffee and tea making space and a small bar fridge at hand, the TV can also be controlled by the remote. It’s worth noting that at this hotel the air conditioning unit cannot be operated by a remote. There is an accessible combined toilet and shower facility fitted with grab rails and a fold-down set. The shower is also hobless for added accessibility. Unfortunately, the balconies have sliding door tracks and may not be accessible to all guests, and there are also no designated accessible parking bays. However, there is ample room for drop offs immediately in front of reception.

PREFERRED HOTEL (DAINTREE): Wheelchair users will be pleasantly surprised by how accessible the property is. The two Escape Cabins are especially convenient. There are no lifts to these two cabins, no stairs, the room is large and the light switches are low. The bathrooms is suitable for wheelchair access. There are spots on site where a person who is neurodivergent could find a quiet space with reduced stimuli or retreat to his/her room.

Entering the reception may also be a little difficult as the door is manual, but staff are always happy to assist (and man the desk 24 hours). There are wide paths that lead from the reception to every area of the resort, including the BBQ area, the pool and the adjoining dining room.

Meals & Restaurants

FLEXIBILITY WITH RESTAURANTS & CATERING: We have quite a bit of flexibility with the restaurants we choose; therefore if we know in advance that we have a guest with a wheelchair, mobility scooter or is short statured, we can choose restaurants that cater accordingly.

We offer flexible menu options for people who have food allergies or intolerances, and in many cases religious requirements relating to food.

Guests are given space on our online booking form to specify their allergy, intolerance or religious requirement. On arrival we then give them a bag containing, for example, lactose-free milk, nut-free cereal and snacks, and/or other food items that cater to this allergy or intolerance. Unfortunately, we are not able to guarantee catering for preferences like low carb meals or FODMAP.

Similarly, we inform all caterers and restaurants of our guests’ food allergies or intolerances.  Breakfast is typically served at the hotel, whilst lunches are often boxed lunches as we move around quite a bit on our tours.


Activities

If we are informed in the planning phase of your trip about  any participants or (potential participants) who have disabilities or special needs, we can suggest certain activities over others or suggest certain boats to the reef.  For example, one boat that travels to the reef has a lift for a guest in a wheelchair to get in and out of the water which is a great choice for guests with wheelchairs or mobility devices. Conversely, we know that the facilities on the boat that travels to the Fitzroy Island reef is not well set up for those with wheelchairs or mobility devices.  We also can include activities such as the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which recognises and supports the Sunflower program for people with hidden disabilities.

On this particular trip, there are quite a few activities:

Tree Planting

There are no accessible toilets at the tree planting site and no provisions for people who use a wheelchair or mobility device.  There is a spot on site where a person who is neurodivergent could find a quiet space with reduced stimuli. People with hearing impairments can easily be shown visually how to plant the trees and those with vision impairments will also be assisted by our guides.

Outback Cattle Station

The property has an accessible toilet and shower. Bunk houses are suitable for people using a wheelchair or a mobility device. Eating area is located on a rock & slate surface, which is relatively smooth but slightly uneven in some places. The pioneer homestead and the hay truck (for wildlife viewing on the property) is not accessible for people using a wheelchair or a mobility device. There are many places on site where a person who is neurodivergent could find a quiet space with reduced stimuli. People with hearing impairments can receive safety instructions for cow milking, boomerang throwing and other activities in a visual format. People with vision impairments can receive verbal safety instructions for cow milking and other activities in a visual format, however boomerang throwing is not recommended.

Dairy Farm Visit

The dairy farm is not well-equipped for people using wheelchairs or mobility devices. All of the activities we do on site are within a 5 minute walk but terrain is uneven, on grass, pebbles or dirt. The property does not have an accessible toilet. There is a spot on site where a person who is neurodivergent could find a quiet space with reduced stimuli. People with hearing impairments can easily be shown visually how to make butter. Those with vision impairments will be assisted by our guides.

Aquaponics Workshop

There are no accessible toilets at the site of the aquaponics workshop and no provisions for people who use a wheelchair or mobility device. There is a spot on site where a person who is neurodivergent could find a quiet space with reduced stimuli. People with hearing impairments can easily be shown visually how to make the aquaponics systems and visual guides are available on paper. Those with vision impairments will be assisted by our guides.

Mossman Gorge Walk

The Visitors’ Centre and toilets are accessible for wheelchair or mobility devices. People using a wheelchair or mobility device can access the the river track & first 500m to the look-out on board walk. Groups can be kept to under 10 people for guests with mild to moderate hearing impairments so guide can project their voice loud enough for guest to hear; guides like to have one on one conversations & questions if guests needed.  There are many quiet spots in the park where people who are neurodivergent can rest.

The Inner Reef Trip

  • The boat cannot accommodate persons using wheelchairs and mobility devices.
  • Safety instructions are given verbally (no written instructions available).
  • The captain is the first point of call for any questions or queries in regards to accessibility and/or special requirements that guests may have on the day.
  • Assistance dogs are permitted, but must be confirmed with the reservations team prior to the trip.
  • The boat uses pictogram signs (for example a pictogram showing feet standing on coral with a red line through it) to assist people with low literacy levels or who speak English as a second language. The company also has risk snorkel assessment forms in Japanese & Chinese for those nationalities.
  • The distance from the Reef Fleet terminal to the vessel is approximately 150 metres; unfortunately no assistance is available for guests with mobility impairments.
  • Lunch catering is sourced from a third party contractor who supply very detailed ingredient lists on request. Most dietary restrictions (gluten or lactose free, vegan, nut-free) can be accommodated.
  • Although the boat itself does not have a specific low-stimulus quiet area, there are places on the island that could serve in this capacity.
  • The island has dirt tracks and uneven terrain to get to the turtle rehab centre, and the beach front is mostly coral rubble.

The Outer Reef Trip

  • One boat in the fleet can accommodate persons using wheelchairs (again, if a wheelchair user is in the group, kindly let us know in the planning stage for your trip)
  • Safety instructions are given verbally (no written instructions available).
  • The captain is the first point of call for any questions or queries in regards to accessibility and/or special requirements that guests may have on the day.
  • Assistance dogs are permitted, but must be confirmed with the reservations team prior to the trip.
  • The boat uses pictogram signs (for example a pictogram showing feet standing on coral with a red line through it) to assist people with low literacy levels or who speak English as a second language. The company also has risk snorkel assessment forms in Japanese & Chinese for those nationalities.
  • The distance from the Reef Fleet terminal to the vessel is approximately 150 metres; unfortunately no assistance is available for guests with mobility impairments.
  • Lunch catering is sourced from a third party contractor who supply very detailed ingredient lists which are displayed for guests at the buffets. Most dietary restrictions (gluten or lactose free, vegan, nut-free) can be accommodated.
  • Students with ASD can retreat to the boat whilst the other passengers are on the pontoon for quiet and reduced stimuli.

JCU Research Station

The station is not well-equipped for people using wheelchairs or mobility devices. All of the activities we do on site are within a 5 minute walk from the station, terrain is uneven, on grass, pebbles or dirt.  There is an ambulant bathroom and toilet in the block directly opposite the students dorms, without walking up or down stairs.

 

Departure at Airport

VISUAL AND WRITTEN STORY GUIDES: Visual Story Guides are available for Domestic Departures and have been designed to help you to understand how an airport works and what to expect. Written Story Guides are also available for Domestic Departures.

Itinerary

Arrival in 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.

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.

Accommodation: Cairns budget accommodation
Meals Included: Dinner

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 Cattle Station 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

Cattle Station 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: This morning 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.

Service Project for the Homeless — Preparing a Meal and Hygiene Packs: Later today 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.

Cuisine & Culture:  This evening you have a special treat: a Palestinian refugee now living in Cairns shares her story and her love of cooking with you.  You learn how to prepare a delicious meal from her home country, and armed with the recipe you can also re-create this meal when you return home.  In a time when the plight of migrants is widely discussed, this activity will allow you to understand circumstances in the world that cause people to flee their countries and will humanize this struggle.  You gain some culinary skills, feast on a fantastic meal, and perhaps make a new friend. (Please inform us if you wish to have a restaurant dinner instead of this activity)

Accommodation: Cairns budget accommodation
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Aquaponics Activities: Today 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 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, hunger issues and sustainability and to show students how, through principles of permaculture, anyone can be self-sufficient.

Future of the Reef Presentation: In the evening back in Cairns you attend a unique presentation on the future of the Great Barrier Reef.  Your marine naturalist teaches you the facts about the state of the reef, dispelling myths about bleaching and climate change, and relays the good, the bad and the ugly about reef tourism. During this talk, you learn the four key threats to the reef and how scientists are trying “assisted evolution” by breeding corals that are resistant to bleaching under higher temperatures.  Perhaps most importantly, you gain ten tips on how you yourselves can help save the reef and continue campaigning when you return home.

Accommodation: Cairns budget accommodation
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Island Snorkelling: Today you travel by boat to the inner Great Barrier Reef to explore fringing reefs that surround a rainforest-draped tropical island.  Your marine biologist/naturalist takes you on a guided snorkel tour, to be followed by discussions on your observations. Topics can include, but are not limited to:  coral predators and threats to the reefhuman impacts on the reef and climate change.

CoralWatch Data Collection:  In the afternoon you engage in an activity that addresses concerns over climate change and coral bleaching. During this exercise you find out more about how and why coral bleaches.  You learn how to identify different kinds of coral, match its colours to a waterproof chart, and then record what you observe in teams of two.  The data then goes back to the University of Queensland’s Coral Watch scientists, where they analyse the results over time and look for any long term trends. Your results also go into a database to track bleaching around the world, and your group receives a graph of your results.

Sustainability Activity:  Based on what they have learned thus far, students are asked to participate in a written evaluation of the island’s sustainability efforts through a fun activity.

Turtle Rehabilitation Centre: During your visit you also visit the island’s Turtle Rehab Centre where a collection of volunteers help sick and injured sea turtles by looking after them until they are ready to be released back into the ocean.

Optional Evening Activity – Documentary Film: Documentary films can inspire discussion and action, in addition to complementing the content of your trip. Tonight you have a choice to view one of several optional documentary films that relate to the environment (no extra cost).

Accommodation: Cairns budget accommodation
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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.

Private Wildlife Tour & Animal Rehabilitation Centre Access: the wildlife park relies solely on donations to operate their Tropical Animal Rehabilitation Centre which includes a dedicated wildlife care centre for sick or orphaned Australian wildlife.  This centre serves as a hospital and rehabilitation centre for countless injured, sick, and orphaned animals and access is only available through this private tour. 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. You will have opportunity to enter the Koala enclosure for one-on-one time and under the supervision of the wildlife keeper; opportunity to engage with animals that have been hand raised by specialist keepers. Included in this special access private tour is a reptile presentation and two souvenir photos per person. Your time here is finished up with a special dining experience enjoying the company of Australian wildlife.

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).

Rainforest Walk With Indigenous Guide: 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: Later you enter the magical 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.  Students sleep in dorm-style cabins with ensuites and air conditioning, and the sounds of the jungle surround you.

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

Environmental Debate: After a night of immersion in the rainforest, you wake to birdcalls and the chatter of the jungle.  Then you participate in an environmental debate which centers around issues of management and planning of Australia’s urban future.  Students are given background information and a summary of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about a major resort development proposed for Cairns and then given different roles to play of community members.  They then argue for or against the building of the resort to convince “council” (teachers). This requires evaluating current and proposed future land use as well as human alteration of biomes, taking into consideration biotic and abiotic factors. 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 national media attention.

JCU Canopy Crane: The James Cook University 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 1 hectare of the incredible biodiversity that has earned the Daintree UNESCO World Heritage status. This research station is only 1 of 3 of its kind existing in the tropics.

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.

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
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Boat Ride to Reef: Your day begins with an air-conditioned catamaran ride to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World-Heritage site and one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet.  Your marine biologist presents what you are likely to see at the reef and introduces the Eye on the Reef program, which involves instruction on how to complete the Rapid Monitoring Survey.

Snorkelling and Data Collection: Upon arrival, you dock at a floating pontoon, and an underwater universe greets you. During a guided snorkel tour with your marine biologist, you can expect to see a rainbow of hard and soft corals, turtles, and a variety of fish species including butterfly fish, giant Maori Wrasse, parrot fish, and the ever-popular clown fish, also known as “Nemo”.

Data Collection & Service: Next you receive in-water training on how to conduct the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Rapid Monitoring Survey. Your marine guide will point 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.

Other Activities: Semi-submarine and glass bottom boat tours, underwater observatory, and marine life touch tank are all available for you to enjoy. The double-storey pontoon also has something that no one else does….. a long and fun slide that finishes in the waters of the reef. Lunch today is a tropical buffet served on the boat.

Field Guide: 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef, written by Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand the underwater world and is yours to keep.

Accommodation: Cairns budget accommodation
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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

Check out this tour's educational outcomes
“[The reason we chose Small World Journeys is that] I liked the fact that your company has a heart, social conscious and a desire to make a difference. I was very satisfied with the professionalism, customer service and organisation by SWJ, as always I thought we were dealt with fairly and professionally with a personal touch.”
– Mark Easton, teacher, St. Margaret’s girls school, Melbourne VIC (July ’18 and 19)

How Your Trip Makes The World A Better Place

We’re not talking rainbows and unicorns. We’re talking about how we have put significant thought into how to make our student tours as safe as they possibly can be while still being fun; encouraging students to learn about and contribute to the community they are travelling in; and teaching them what “sustainability” really means.

Sustainability

AlthoughWe are determined and motivated to be the most sustainable business we can be. This is why we run our office on renewable energy, voluntarily offset our carbon emissions, and fulfilling our policy to give at least 5% of our annual net profits to local environmental and community organisations and charities. Here’s what else we are doing:

HELPING THE REEF: In addition to the coral tree we sponsor, we pay to “adopt” coral at Fitzroy Island through our partner. The coral propagation happening there is unprecedented and is being celebrated as a significantproject to help save the reef. Each of our groups that visit the reef receives a certificate on the tour and later receive updates on the coral.


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. In 2018-19, we purchased more than 100 square metres of rainforest adopted in our groups’ names.

CREATIVE WASTE REDUCTION: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags (and saves them from going in landfills!) We also recycle BOTH our hard plastics and soft plastics (through RedCycle) and have transitioned into NO WASTE snacks and NO WASTE lunches. Our food scraps get composted and put into our community garden, our bin liners are paper (not plastic) and we even wipe our bums with Who Gives a Crap 100% recycled toilet paper!

Community

SUPPORTING OUR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY: It is our policy to include a talk or an activity with an Aboriginal person on every trip we offer. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture.

Additionally, our student community service project involves students in making “Moon Sick Care Bags” which supply re-usable sanitary products to Aboriginal women in remote communities — this helps both Indigenous women AND the environment! (Ask us how your group can do this on their tour)


SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: It is our policy to use locally owned suppliers and businesses unless their standards are not up to par (for example, if they have a bad environmental record).

VOLUNTEERING IN OUR COMMUNITY: Small World staff are incentivised to volunteer in the community, and are given time to do so during work hours. As a team, we also clean up our local mangroves once a quarter, recognising their importance at the nursery to the Great Barrier Reef.

Safety

SUPERB SAFETY RECORD: We’ve had thousands of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent. Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

RISK ASSESSMENT FOR EVERY TRIP: We do a risk assessment for every student tour we run, and is sent to your organising teacher. We have safety protocols for our activities and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual that documents these protocols. We also have a complete Crisis Management Plan. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during orientation that addresses hazards and risks for this region.


SAFE BUSES: All of our buses are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law to have them, 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 12 months.

SAFE GUIDES: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority (if driving) and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card) after passing a thorough background check. For more information on our guides, see About Us.

We do custom trips!

Still haven’t found exactly what you are looking for? All our tours are fully customisable and can be catered to suit your time-frame, student interests and budget. A geography excursion to the Great Barrier Reef? A biology excursion to the Daintree Rainforest? An Aboriginal culture excursion? Our educational trips in Queensland and New South Wales are hand-crafted for those who cannot find exactly what they want from the inflexible set itineraries of large tour operators.

If you are looking for a science trip, ecology trip, Aboriginal culture, or just a sample of the best of Australia – we can help.

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