The Great Barrier Reef is endangered. It is threatened by climate change, catchment pollution, coastal development, and fishing. This Critical Issues program focuses on conservation. It provides students with an in-depth look at issues, challenges and solutions related to conservation of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics in Far North Queensland. Students will meet with stakeholders from the region’s tourism and agriculture sectors. This will help them to understand economic considerations. They’ll hear stories and perspectives from environmental management groups. They’ll also see presentations from researchers who are working across sectors to find solutions. This program is led by Rustic Pathways’ marine science specialist, Dr Olaf Meynecke. This experiential education tour of Far North Queensland provides first-hand insights that extend classroom learning.
Rustic Pathways’ staff will welcome you upon arrival into Cairns. This is the start of an unforgettable tour of Far North Queensland! You will transfer to accommodation and settle into your dorm rooms. After lunch, there will be an orientation session with your Rustic leaders. Then, you’ll meet with a project manager from the Reef & Rainforest Research Centre. Learn about their environmental management and research in the tropics. Deepen your understanding of critical issues such as sediment run-off from agricultural land into the reef.
This evening, enjoy a presentation on the Great Barrier Reef from local marine biologists. After that, head out to soak up the lively atmosphere along the esplanade.
We travel south of Cairns today to better understand the region’s agriculture. Agriculture in the area is largely dominated by sugar cane plantations and banana farms. Innisfail is Australia’s largest producer of bananas. It’s claimed that banana farms release more sediment and nutrients into the ocean per hectare than any other farming. You’ll meet with local farmers today to hear about their lives. Learn as well about the history of the region. It will be interesting to hear the farmers’ perspectives on the health of river systems and the reef.
This afternoon, we’ll drive into Mission Beach to experience the rainforest and search for cassowaries before returning to Cairns
Today is a full-day trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef. You will snorkel at two different sites throughout the day. You’ll have ample opportunity to spot fish, turtles and reef sharks! There will be marine biologists on-board to teach you about the reef and put this incredible ecosystem in a global context. This will be an experience you’ll never forget!
Today you’ll explore one of the oldest rainforests on the planet. Drive north along the coast from Cairns, cross the Daintree River by ferry, then make your way through the rainforest. Settle in then explore the pristine beaches and rainforest. Keep an eye out for cassowaries!
Overnight: Daintree Rainforest
Cape Tribulation is known as where the rainforest meets the reef. Today you’ll spend half a day out on the Great Barrier Reef! Take a 25-minute boat ride from the beach and spend two hours snorkeling. There’s a high chance of seeing turtles here! Continue your marine education with Dr Olaf. Compare the two different sections of reef that you’ve now experienced.
Overnight: Daintree Rainforest
This morning will be focused on giving back to the local community. Your service day will involve working with one or more of our amazing community partners. Depending on the needs of our partners, you may find yourself helping out in a school, contributing to an environmental project, assisting with wildlife conservation, or providing food relief for those in need. Our Australia Community Impact Manager will place you on a project that best meets community needs. No matter which project you are involved in, you will walk away from your day of service knowing that you’ve made a difference to the lives of the local people.
Next, we’ll take a wilderness cruise through the waterways of the rainforest. Keep an eye out for saltwater crocs basking on the riverbanks! You’ll learn all about the ecological significance of the region.
This evening we will head to Port Douglas for dinner and our final evening.
Overnight: Port Douglas
This morning, head to beautiful Mossman Gorge. Take a Dreamtime Walk with an Indigenous guide to learn about the traditional custodians of the land, the Kuku Yalanji. Get welcomed to country in a smoking ceremony. Then hear stories of culture while walking along the river, and see how ochre paint is made.
After a jam-packed week, our time in Far North Queensland concludes and this afternoon we will transfer back to Cairns. You’ll say farewell to your Rustic leaders and make your way home. Safe travels!