FREE Teacher Familiarisation Trip

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FREE Teacher Familiarisation Trip

For teachers who are new to organising class excursions (or simply new to Small World Journeys), we welcome you to join us in Cairns on a familiarisation trip! This is a perfect opportunity to learn about Far North Queensland and our educational programs.  If you have never travelled with Small World Journeys before and are unsure about where to begin planning your class’s camp, we’d love to teach you.  Explore the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, an outback cattle station and the Cairns Highlands with its many waterfalls in a compact “famil” excursion with other teachers from all over the country.

Whether it’s a geography, marine science, biology or sustainability-focused program you’re after, we will cover everything you need to know. We will cover risk assessments and safety, promoting your trip, and integrating your educational goals into your tour.

4 Days / 3 Nights
Cairns, Queensland
15-18 March 2024
Minimum 6 Teachers | Maximum 12 Teachers
Free of Charge for Eligible Teachers
$300 deposit is refundable when you complete the trip


  • Become familiar with a range of activities and sites to help you shape your own educational tour with Small World
  • Collect primary data on Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching
  • Tour a riparian zone where our students have been planting trees for years to protect an endangered frog
  • Stay on a working cattle station where the owners are actively involved in water quality improvement
  • On a tropical island learn about contemporary protected area management
  • Learn from Indigenous Kuku Yalanji guides how they traditionally managed country
  • Visit sick and injured turtles at a rehabilitation centre and then swim with the healthy ones
  • Visit a rare tract of endangered mabi rainforest where a monsterous fig tree has taken over
  • Give back to the community by participating in a service project for Cairns’ homeless
  • Slide down a natural waterslide in the emerald jungle of a national park
  • Snorkel The Great Barrier Reef in small groups with an expert marine biologist
  • Test water quality and learn how this predicts reef health & evaluate human impacts in a national park

  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • Cairns airport transfers
  • Ground transportation
  • Small World Journeys staff/guide Days 1-4
  • Small World Journeys marine biologist Day 2
  • 2 nights at Cairns hotel accommodation (2, or 3 share single gender ensuite rooms)*
  • 1 night outback cattle station (simple single-gender bunk-style cabins with shared bathrooms
  • 3 continental breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 3 dinners
  • Snacks
  • Mask, fins, snorkel hire, lycra suit hire on reef trip
  • 101 Marine Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each teacher
  • 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide for each teacher
  • 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics field guide for each teacher
  • Small World Journeys BPA free reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag for each teacher
  • National Park and Marine Park taxes and levies
  • Risk assessment


A charge of $126 is charged if you request a private room for the Cairns hotel. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.


Prices are valid for travel for the March 2024 program. Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.  To apply for a spot, please fill out our Contact Us form and we will get in touch with you. 

    • Airfare to Cairns
    • Personal expenses (souvenirs, laundry, etc.)
    • Optional single supplement of $126 (if you want your own room at the Cairns Hotel)


To apply for a spot, please fill out our Contact Us form and we will get in touch with you.

Terms & Conditions

  • Spots are limited and acceptance on the program will be determined no later than 16 February 2024.
  • Your spot on the trip is confirmed once the deposit for your tour has been received by Small World Journeys
  • We ask for a $300 per person deposit to cover admin costs to enrol you in this program; if you complete the familiarisation program we will refund the $300.
  • Our expectation is that you will be present for the entirety of the trip, from midday Day 1 through late afternoon on Day 4.
  • In order to qualify for acceptance on this program, you must be a teacher currently working at a secondary school.
  • Only one teacher per school is eligible to participate.
  • Minimum group numbers are required in order for us to run this program.
  • Teacher familarisation trips are intended for teachers who are new to Small World Journeys.  If you or your school has travelled with us before, please contact our offices before submitting your application.
  • Teacher participants will be asked to e-sign a liability waiver in order to participate on the program.

Please request to be sent an itinerary document which will list full Terms & Conditions.

To apply for a spot, please fill out our Contact Us form and we will get in touch with you.


Arrival: Welcome to the tropics! You arrive in Cairns and are warmly greeted by our director at the airport. Please plan to arrive by 12 noon.

Daintree Rainforest Discovery with Indigenous Guide: First you discover the Daintree Rainforest at Mossman Gorge, an area important to the Kuku Yalanji. Beginning with a traditional smoking ceremony, you wander rainforest paths, discovering with your guide how these Traditional Owners people found their way through dense rainforest, made shelter and knew which native plants to use for food, weapons and medicine.  As your guide shares his stories, you learn how the seasons dictated life, what falls under men’s and women’s “business”, how to make fire in the rainforest and how to make fish very easy to catch. You then sample billy tea and wattle seed damper (bread) made on the fire topped with jam from rainforest berries.

Reef Presentation: After dinner tonight you enjoy a special presentation about the reef. We know people have nervous breakdowns, but what happens when a reef gets too stressed out? During this lively presentation taught by a marine biologist, you learn more about how The Great Barrier Reef evolved and about how natural and human impacts are causing it stress. You also learn how Indigenous people have traditionally managed the reef, and how it’s managed today. Along the way, you discover weird and wacky things about the reef, such as the role of parrot fish poop, an example of mutualism that makes Nemo happy, and the most dangerous things in the sea that are not what you expect. Your biologist prepares you to identify biogeographical interactions at the reef, how geomorphology changes the reef and how scientists are trying “assisted evolution” with corals.

Accommodation: Your hotel is consistently rated “excellent” on Trip Advisor and continues to rank as one of Cairns best rated hotels. You will enjoy the complimentary WiFi in your room, while all rooms have ensuites and air-conditioning, flat screen TVs with Austar and tea & coffee making facilities. The hotel also has guest laundry, a tropical pool and spa. It is also easy walking distance to shops and restaurants, and two blocks from the Esplanade and waterfront.

Teachers are provided with twin share rooms with another teacher of the same gender. If you wish to have your own room, please refer to the end of this document for pricing on single supplement.

Accommodation: Cairns 3-star hotel
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner


Ferry Ride: This morning you are ferried to the pristine Fitzroy Island. A fringing coral reef surrounds the island, part of the inner Great Barrier Reef, providing a sheltered home for a kaleidoscope of marine life: colourful corals, parrot and lionfish, turtles, cuttle fish, rays and giant clams.

Guided Snorkelling: With full use of snorkel gear for the day, you can walk right into the water to explore the magnificent reef system that surrounds the island. Your marine biologist leads you to underwater examples of biodiversity and indicator species as well as examples of the reef’s most interesting features.

Activity Addressing Contemporary & Traditional Protected Area Management: A lunchtime mapping activity also helps you understand how we teach geography concepts and to understand management strategies for the reef, both present and past. You are led into a discussion about how the area has been traditionally managed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people for over 60,000 years, addressing topics such as sustainable fishing, use of totems and Traditional Owner stewardship. Teachers are encouraged to consider and discuss what challenges there might be in using only traditional management practices today, considering the present day uses of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Contemporary management of the area is also looked at in detail, as well as the zoning plan released in 2003 by the Australian Government.

CoralWatch Data Collection: In the afternoon you collect primary data in an activity that addresses 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.

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

Human Impacts & Water Quality Testing: You are introduced to an activity that has you evaluating the island’s human impacts throughout the day, and are asked to fill in a “report card”. Finally, you learn to measure water quality using chemical tests. Small World Journeys collects these tallies from each group that visits Fitzroy Island so we can log this data, analyse the results over time, and look for any long term trends.

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.

Sustainability Talk: After dinner is a presentation to explore your perceptions of sustainability, facilitated by Small World Journeys’ owner, Laurie Pritchard.  During this interactive session you discover the biggest ingredient in Australia’s landfills, what we can learn from cheeseburgers, and the role of Traditional Owners in sustainability. Topics range from the three pillars of sustainability, to the world’s number one problem to how your little actions make a difference.  A game-show activity also introduces thought-provoking concepts as well as plenty of laughs.

Accommodation: Cairns 3-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Native Tree Planting Site: This morning with your guide you discuss loss of biodiversity and habitats for a range of species due to agriculture or development.  You visit the site where for years our students have been planting native trees to moderate temperature and humidity and to create niches for other plants and animals.  This area is a ‘hotspot’ for biodiversity so students’ service work here is helping to protect a buffer zone to a World Heritage area and the endangered Myola frog.  By working with seedlings, digging, planting, and watering, students get to help the environment, meet some local volunteers, and contribute to the community. Today you also get to see the tract of forest that grew from planted trees and is now self-sustaining.

Rainforest and Curtain Fig Tree: Next you head south through the Cairns Highlands. Here the rich volcanic soils of the Cairns Highlands created a suitable environment for lush tropical rainforests, which in turn have attracted a host of mammal, reptile and bird life.  In the Highlands you visit a rare tract of mabi rainforest. You pay tribute to a local high-profile resident – the massive curtain fig tree– and learn how these giants straight out of Lord of the Rings eerily “strangle” their hosts.

Millaa Millaa Falls: Millaa Millaa (meaning “plenty of water” in the local Aboriginal language) is the icon of tropical north Queensland and one of the most photographed natural sites in the region.  The waterfall flows over pure basalt rock thousands of years old in a dramatic burst.  There is a fantastic swimming hole at the base of the falls, where it is possible to swim under and behind the falls.

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 our group of educators.  On arrival, you hop in the hay truck to trace a route through the station– much of which has been set aside for as a sanctuary for wildlife—and look for the kangaroos and crocodiles that roam the property.

Improving Water Quality Talk: The owners of this cattle station have recently participated in a program focused on improving water quality in the Herbert River catchment. The program aims to reduce fine sediment run-off to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. It includes major earthworks to reshape gullies, changes to grazing practices, new fences to keep stock from streambanks, off-stream watering infrastructure, revegetation projects and weed management. This afternoon you have a one on one talk with a staff member from the station to discuss the project and its success so far.

BBQ and Stargazing: After a classic steak barbie, you have a fire under starry outback skies. From this remote outback station, views of the stars are phenomenal. You sleep in simple single-gender dorm-style bunk houses next to a toilet and shower block.

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 and branding, and efforts made for humane animal treatment. You also learn what this robust rural family does to survive flooding, drought and economic hardships.

Cow Milking, Animals and Whip Cracking: You can visit 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: Part of being a “sustainable” tourist is helping the community in which you are travelling.  Whilst at the cattle station,  you can participate in a service project for people that come to Cairns from remote Indigenous communities. These people come to Cairns for medical reasons, and often do not have anything with them. You may also make these special comfort packs for the homeless people in Cairns. You learn to make special bags using upcycled materials, and then create packs with hygiene items people most need, like shampoo, toothpaste and sanitary items. No worries if you aren’t the best at arts and crafts – the bags are easy to make, and you’ll feel good doing it too. (An hour and fifteen minutes in duration)

Later you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.  (Please book your flight no earlier than 4 pm)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

To apply for a spot, please fill out our Contact Us form and we will get in touch with you.

Check out this tour's educational outcomes
“A professional and well-organised trip from start to finish. Materials and experiences matched description. The reef component was excellent, but 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, Wollongong NSW (Oct ’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.


Although we wear bras and brush our teeth, you could say we are a team of hippy tree-huggers. This is why we run our office on renewable energy, voluntarily offsetting 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!


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. We are proud to say that in the financial year of 2018-19, we gave over $43,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures.

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). In 2018-19, three quarters of our expenses were paid back into the local economy.

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.


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 six 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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