Building Leaders – 5 Day Adventure

Working Together and Stretching Comfort Zones

This is a student trip that focuses on developing leadership skills with a “learn by doing” focus. The exhilaration of navigating an urban challenge, learning to abseil, or snorkelling for the first time will produce courage and confidence. And building a raft together, helping one another through an obstacle course or paddling as a team down whitewater rapids will foster a sense of teamwork and cooperation. A naturalist guide will introduce you to the area’s World-Heritage rainforest chock full of unique wildlife, ferns, flowers and hidden waterfalls and an Aboriginal guide will give you his perspective on his rainforest country.  This is a fantastic trip for students to get to know their strengths as well as those on their team.

Areas of Learning:

  • Community Service
  • Ecology
  • Teambuilding
  • Wildlife
  • Marine Science


  • Build rafts & play a “survivor” game on a tropical island
  • Help each other over and through obstacles on a fun challenge course
  • Build courage while abseiling and optional “canyoning”
  • Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef
  • Learn about the cultural, historic and natural history of Cairns on an urban challenge
  • Swim under waterfalls and discover the rainforest with an Aboriginal guide
  • Participate in an interactive leadership workshop with Small World Journeys’ owner
  • OPTIONAL – Navigate Grade III rapids as a team on the Barron River

Benefits & Bonuses:

  • All accommodation, meals, guides and transport to activities included
  • Risk assessment provided
  • Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
  • Expert guides – not “bus drivers”
  • We cater to student special diets and swimming levels
  • Goodies! Water bottle, field guide, cloth shopping bag and rainforest plot and coral adopted in your name
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN – This trip is fully customisable.  Ask us for details!


Day 1: Arrival in Cairns, Orientation and Leadership Workshop

Day 1: Arrival in Cairns, Orientation and Leadership Workshop

Arrive Cairns: Welcome to the tropics! On arrival you are met by a Small World Journeys staff member, given an orientation and transferred to your accommodation.

Fundamentals of Leadership Workshop: Your first activity is a workshop that explores concepts of leadership through a fun series of interactive games and self-discovery tools. You learn ten qualities of good leaders, recognise leadership skills you already possess, and identify how to find your “super powers”. This workshop is facilitated by Small World Journeys’ owner and creator, Laurie Pritchard, who was the 2017 Cairns CBWC Small Businesswoman of the Year and the Institute of Managers & Leaders’ (IML) Owner/Entrepreneur Regional Winner. Having interviewed and hired hundreds of people over the past 18 years, Laurie can also teach older students what employers look for in job seekers, and the five common mistakes young people make in job interviews.  This is a fast paced, fun workshop in which you gain valuable insight about yourselves.

Cuisine & Culture: This evening you have a special treat: a migrant 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 meals, and perhaps make a new friend (please tell us if you wish to have dinner at a restaurant instead of doing this meal).

Accommodation: Your accommodation is at a comfortable hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. The hostel is committed to sustainability and even has their own herb garden for guests use! A lush swimming pool and spa, and large common areas, the hostel also features free internet in common areas and air conditioning in each room.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Group Initiatives & Games, Aboriginal-Guided Rainforest Discovery & Art Project,  Rainforest Swim & Campfire

Day 2: Group Initiatives & Games, Aboriginal-Guided Rainforest Discovery & Art Project, Rainforest Swim & Campfire

Group Initiatives & Games:   This morning welcomes a host of group initiatives and games designed to focus you not only on your leadership skills, but being a supportive team player as well.  Through problem solving games facilitated by your guide, you learn that being adaptable is an asset, that communication is key, and that the most outspoken person is not necessarily the best leader.  You have a chance to debrief each activity and review what you have learned each time.

Walk with Aboriginal Elder and Art Project: 

Next with an Aboriginal guide you explore an emerald swathe of rainforest that’s been home to his people for hundreds of years.  In his care, you learn the special significance of plants, “bush tucker” and story places that were important to the Gimuy Wallabura Yidinji   Indigenous people. Lush tropical foliage decorates your path, and you can swim in the multiple waterfalls along the way.  Afterwards, you participate in an art project that reflects the spirituality and ties to land that the Gimuy Wallabura Yidinji  people are connected to.  The painting you do today echoes the unique style of Aboriginal art, and your piece becomes a souvenir to take home.

Highlands Cabins: Later you settle into your dorm-style accommodation next to a gorgeous waterfall.  Cabins with shared bathrooms are split by gender, and teachers have their own cabins nearby with ensuites, small refrigerator, and tea & coffee making facilities.

Platypus Spotting and Glowworms: Near sunset with your guide you can look for the elusive platypus that swims in the property’s stream, and after dark you can also creep down a path through the rainforest to view some of Australia’s most unusual creatures – glow worms – that attract mates through bioluminescence and make tiny twinkles in the night.

Campfire & Leadership Discussion:  Later tonight after dinner you come together around the fire to discuss conquering fears, building confidence and taking on new challenges, and what obstacles you have met on your leadership path.  Your guide will ask a few key questions for reflection so you can get the most out of this exercise.

Accommodation: Highlands Cabins
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Team Activities, Abseiling, Waterfalls & Future of the Reef Talk

Day 3: Team Activities, Abseiling, Waterfalls & Future of the Reef Talk

Team-Building Obstacle Course: This morning you have more activities designed to strengthen your sense of teamwork.  A highlight is banding together in teams to make your way through an army-style obstacle course designed to test your skill, speed and ability to work together effectively.

Abseiling: Under the care of a professional instructor you are introduced to the exhilarating and empowering sport of abseiling. Abseiling — a slow controlled descent down our rope with a friction device – is for some students more demanding than rock climbing. First-time climbers will be particularly well-cared for and this is a great activity for confidence building. Students learn it can often take the support from others in the group to give someone the strength to do it.

Josephine Falls: Later you enter Wooroonooran National Park—a diverse part of the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and one of the most picturesque places in the entire Wet Tropics! You take an easy walk through the jungle, listening for the call of the king parrot and the bowerbird and emerge at Josephine Falls, where Josephine Creek plunges down a gorgeous set of cascades. Below the falls, boulders surround a fun swimming hole and a natural water slide down a smooth sloping rock face.

Future of The Reef Talk: 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 tips on how you yourselves can help save the reef and be an advocate for change when you return home.

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

Day 4: The Great Barrier Reef: Snorkelling, Raft-Building & Team Games

Day 4: The Great Barrier Reef: Snorkelling, Raft-Building & Team Games

Travel to the Great Barrier Reef: This morning you board your ferry and depart for the pristine Fitzroy Island.   With a prime spot on the inner Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island and the surrounding reefs support some of the planet’s greatest biodiversity and the island is now protected as a national park.

Raft Building:  After an orientation to the island, you split into groups for an active teambuilding game.  Using only a few pieces of allocated equipment, you must design a raft together using your creativity and ingenuity.  Rafts are judged on structural inventiveness, involvement of the whole team in its construction, and if it safely floats three team members!  With full supervisor support in the water, you then try to successfully make your way back to shore.

Team Strategy Activity:  Using your rafts as your base, next you work together on a “lost at sea” activity.  This game requires strategic thinking, intellect and sharing of ideas to have the best chance of “surviving” as a group.  Your decisions as a team are compared to National Coast Guard standards.

Snorkelling: With full use of snorkel gear for the rest of the day, you can walk right into the water to explore the magnificent reef system that surrounds the island.  Just offshore a kaleidoscope of marine life beckons to be discovered:  colourful corals, parrot and lionfish, turtles, cuttle fish, rays and giant clams.

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
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: Community Service Project or Urban Challenge & Departure

Day 5: Community Service Project or Urban Challenge & Departure

Optional Service Project: If you have an afternoon flight you can participate in a service project for the homeless by making special bags for a local charity using upcycled materials (which helps them save money!) You then put it the bags food and hygiene items most needed by those living on the street.  Rosies Friends on The Street is a not-for-profit organisation that will then distribute the packs you make.  In addition, a representative from Rosies will speak to you about how members of the Cairns community become homeless, and how your gift will help. 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.


Urban Challenge:  Alternatively, you can participate in Small World Journeys’ Urban Challenge, which involves the group splitting up into smaller groups in a type of treasure hunt to find Cairns’ historical, cultural, and whimsical sites and landmarks.  This is a good way to sharpen your skills in making your way around a city, but in a safe and controlled manner.

Later you are transferred to Cairns airport for your flight home.


Included: Breakfast

OPTIONAL ADD ONS: Whitewater Rafting and/or Canyoning

OPTIONAL ADD ONS: Whitewater Rafting and/or Canyoning

Rafting the Barron River: In the afternoon you travel from Cairns to your put-in at Barron Gorge National Park. The Barron River ranks high with rafting enthusiasts around the globe for its stunning course through national parklands, Class III rapids, and its reliable year-round flows. First timers and experienced rafters alike are spoiled by the Barron’s fun paddling and gorgeous pristine wilderness. At the river you are fitted with a life jacket and helmet and after a safety briefing you are on the water. In 6-person rafts, you paddle through UNESCO World Heritage rainforest and below waterfalls that tumble from the walls of the gorge. Rousing rapids with evocative names like Cheese Churn, Rooster Tail and Hells Gate punctuate your route as you paddle the spectacular canyon.


Canyoning: Get ready to get wet! This adventure activity is called “canyoning”, which has you following a waterway through a gorgeous tropical canyon.  You learn to abseil beside waterfalls, slide and jump into clear pools, and hook in to a fantastic zip line over the gorge.  Suitable for ages 8 and above, this is the perfect activity to face your fears and join together in adventure!

Is this leadership camp too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!

School Trip Fees Include:

  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • Cairns airport transfers
  • Transportation to activities
  • Small World Journeys guide(s) Days 1-4
  • 3 nights at Cairns budget accommodation (4 or 6 share dorm rooms)*
  • 1 night Cairns Highlands cabins (single gender dorm-style rooms)*
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners
  • Snacks
  • Mask, fins, and snorkel hire for Great Barrier Reef day
  • Stinger suit hire during stinger season
  • 101 Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each student
  • Small World Journeys reusable BPA free water bottle and cloth shopping bag
  • National Park and Marine Park taxes and levies
  • 5 metres square Daintree rainforest plot adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue
  • Coral adoption through Reef Restoration Foundation with updates on the progress of the coral
  • Materials for community service project or prize for winning team of Urban Challenge

*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 of $240 AUD 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.

Trip Fees Exclude:

  • Airfare to Cairns
  • Personal expenses (phone, laundry, etc.)

Land Cost to 31 March 2021:

  • 15+ participants: $1078 AUD
  • 10-14 participants (low numbers): $1125 AUD

(*add $50 pp for premium travel season between 15 June – 15 July)


  • Whitewater rafting the Barron River (minimum age is 13): $136 AUD per person
  • Canyoning (minimum age is 8): $164 AUD per person


All accommodation is included. In Cairns, you stay at a comfortable hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. The hostel is committed to sustainability and even has their own herb garden for guests use! A lush swimming pool and spa, and large common areas, the hostel also features free internet in common areas and air conditioning in each room. In the Cairns Highlands, you stay on a gorgeous rural property next to a waterfall: accommodation is in single gender-dorm style cabins with shared bathrooms, and teacher/leaders have their own cabins with ensuite.


All meals are included.  You have a combination of catered and restaurant meals. A typical breakfast is a selection of cereals, toast, juice and fruits; lunches are combinations of sandwiches and salads with fruits and a sweet, and dinners are a sample of BBQs, all-you-can-eat pasta and pizza, seafood treats and local favourites. Ask us about vegetarian, kosher and halal options.



Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.



  1. Read our Terms & Conditions and tell us you want to come.
  2. Pay a $200 AUD deposit for the group (not per person – just a flat $200 to secure your booking) via our payment page or by direct deposit/cheque.
  3. Receive a link from us to your special web page that has an electronic booking forms, waivers to e-sign, and more information about the trip.
  4. Have each student sign up via this link and pay you (the teacher) no later than 60 days prior to the trip. You then submit whole payment to us at 60 days.
  5. Enjoy your trip!

Question 1: What happens when we arrive at the airport?

Answer: You will be met by a Small World Journeys staff member who will give you an orientation and then accompany you to your accommodation or first activity. Please note if you select flights that arrive or depart outside of the hours requested we can not guarentee supervision, or a staff memeber to meet you until the requested times.

Question 2: When is the best time to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef?

Answer: Cairns is a tropical place, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit. In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Autumn (March - May) brings unpredictable weather - it can be warm and rainy or hot and sunny. Springtime (September - November) is the most predicable, and days tend to be warm to hot with little rainfall. The visbility at the Great Barrier Reef is at its best September - November, but can be enjoyed year-round. Come June - September for seasonal whale watching.  

Question 3: Do we need to worry about jellyfish?

Answer: The box jellyfish are present in the northern coastal waters from November to April/May. The jellyfish are found close to shore—they breed in estuaries and very very rarely can they make it to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Most of the swimming beaches have “stinger nets” up during this season so people can swim. However, the tiny Irukandji jellyfish has been known on occasion to slip through the nets, and this is most often where people have been stung. It is a very painful sting, but there have been only 2 confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji jellyfish. The good news is that the jellyfish are rarely found at the outer Great Barrier Reef, where you will be snorkeling and/or diving. Most people swim on the reef without using any protection. According to the CRC Reef Research Centre, “In offshore waters around coral reefs, box jellyfish that cause Irukandji syndrome are usually well dispersed and the incidence of stings is very small.” Nonetheless, reef operators have “stinger suits” as well as wetsuits as an extra precaution.

Question 4: What happens if a student cancels?

Answer: If an individual student cancels from a trip within 30 days of the trip departure, no refunds are given. For this reason, we strongly encourage all parents to purchase trip cancellation insurance in order to protect against unforeseen circumstances which are the main cause for student cancellations. For more details, please see our Terms & Conditions.

Question 5: What is your safety record?

Answer: Our safety record is outstanding. Please ask us for teacher/supervisor references specifically regarding our safety measures and practices.  We do risk assessments for every excursion we run. We carry a first aid kit in our vehicles, as well as on the guide's person when in remote areas.  All guides are certified in first aid and CPR.  We give every student  a card with emergency numbers and safety information on it to carry, and we review safety measures as part of our orientation. Safety is absolutely our number one concern at all times. We do everything in our power to make sure each trip is as safe as it can possibly be.

Question 6: Do you do risk assessments?

Answer: Yes. We evaluate and re-evaluate the safety of each of our destinations and activities, and we always reserve the right to modify or cancel an itinerary if the guide feels that conditions are unsafe. We will gladly provide a risk management assessment specific to your trip on request. Small World Journeys' staff also adhere to a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy.

Question 7: Why should we purchase travel insurance?

Answer: We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance for your protection. Should a participant need to cancel their trip for any reason, our cancellation policy applies. However, travel insurance protects any loss they may experience should s/he or an immediate family member become ill or sustain an injury that prevents them from going on the trip.

Question 8: What makes Small World Journeys "eco-friendly"?

Answer: An eco tour, in our opinion, is a trip in which everyone benefits: the community, the environment, you and us. Simply by joining one of our trips, you will be supporting carbon offsetting, Rainforest Rescue's Adopt-A-Square initiative, aboriginal cultural ventures and locally-owned businesses who are working towards a more sustainable future in tourism. As our guest, you are supporting us as well. Thank you! For more information, see 10 Ways We're ''Sustainable''.

Question 9: How does Small World Journeys incorporate our educational objectives?

Answer: We work directly with the teacher organiser or group leader to understand the goals of the trip. Then we suggest activities and learning opportunities to match these objectives. For example, a group may be interested in learning more about marine biology. In this case we will facilitate some fun classroom time dedicated to marine science in Cairns, then a couple of days at the Great Barrier Reef with our marine biologist guide. We can include such things as waterproof fish and coral ID cards for each student, and mini-lectures after snorkel time. A SCUBA certification course may also be appropriate. Alternatively, we might suggest a few days at an island research station, during which students have classroom and snorkel time, as well as a service project monitoring coral bleaching on the reef. Whether it is marine science, aboriginal culture, rainforest ecology or another topic, we will work with each group to ensure an educational yet fun experience for all.

Question 10: What kind of insurance do you have in place?

Answer: Small World Journeys has public liability insurance up to $20,000,000 and is required for us to maintain our commercial permits for the national parks.

How your trip supports the community

SUPPORTING  INDIGENOUS CULTURE: We acknowledge  Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People as the first inhabitants of Australia and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and our groups travel. Your trip includes activities and interaction with local Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land on which you are traveling. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture. It is our policy to include a talk or an activity with an Aboriginal person on every trip we offer. 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 new 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: On this educational tour, we use locally owned accommodation, restaurants, and suppliers whenever possible to keep income in the community. This includes supporting farmers by purchasing locally-grown fruits and vegetables for you on your trip. We also give you a list of where to buy locally-made crafts and souvenirs so you can continue this support as well.  In 2018-19, three quarters of our expenses were paid back into the local economy.

SUPPORTING LOCAL HOMELESS & NEEDY PEOPLE: We make both financial and in-kind donations to Rosie’s Friends on The Street, a Cairns-based charity. Rosie’s seeks to provide homeless people and people living rough a hot meal, conversation and a non-judgemental human connection.  Small World Journeys’ staff also volunteer on Rosie’s outreach nights, and many of our students have made comfort packs for Rosie’s patrons! For more information on Rosie’s and other organisations to which we donate, see Philanthropy and Partnerships or ask us how you can incorporate community service with Rosie’s into your educational excursion.


How your trip is “Eco-friendly”

HELPING THE REEF: In addition to the coral tree we sponsor, we pay to “adopt” coral at Fitzroy Island through our partner Reef Restoration Foundation.  The coral propagation happening there is unprecedented and is being celebrated as a significant project 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.

REDUCING WASTE: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags. By reducing our need for plastic bags and bottles, we avoid having these things go into landfills or into the tummies of our native animals. We also recycle BOTH our hard plastics and soft plastics, and our trip snack wrappers get broken down and made into other things! For more information on how we donate to The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and other environmental groups, see Philanthropy and Partnership.

OUR OFFICE IS RUN ON SOLAR POWER: Our future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.

CARBON OFFSETTING: We calculate our company’s carbon emissions. Then we pay Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offset your emissions by investing in environmental and community-based projects. In 2018 we offset 76.72 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide! For more information about our carbon offsetting, see 10 Ways We’re ”Sustainable”.

How your trip is safety-oriented

REFERENCES:  We have had hundreds of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent.  Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

VEHICLES: All of our vehicles are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law, we feel your safety is a priority.  Our guides do safety checks at the start of each day of the trip. In addition, vehicles go through a Department of Transport safety inspection every six months.

RISK ASSESSMENT: We do a risk assessment for every student tour we run. That risk assessment then gets sent to the 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.

GUIDES AND SAFETY: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card). For more information on our guides, see The Small World Journeys Team.