Expeditions exploring the World Heritage-listed reef and rainforest in Tropical North Queensland are giving travellers the opportunity to understand the global importance of these ecosystems and help the organisations caring for their future.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said extended tours involving scientists and wildlife volunteers were growing in popularity with travellers wanting a deeper connection with the environments they were visiting.
“Snorkelling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef is a very special experience that helps the reef as each visitor pays a $7 Environmental Management Charge towards managing the health of the reef,” he said.
“Some visitors want to contribute more by participating in environmental surveys recording data on the reef through citizen science activities.
“Hands-on assistance is not always possible, but many expeditions give valuable support to volunteer-run organisations such as the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre or the Tolga Bat Hospital simply by paying to bring their guests there.
“We are finding that extended volunteer opportunities are popular with students who want to experience Tropical North Queensland’s lifestyle while helping at places like Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas.
“There are also one-off opportunities to assist global volunteer organisations including Tangaroa Blue and Parley for the Oceans that organise community events in the region.”
Travel for good expeditions in Tropical North Queensland
Contributing to research projects on the Great Barrier Reef can be done in comfort with Coral Expedition Cruises which has partnered with Australian Geographic to offer a Citizen Science series. The next expedition for 66 guests and researchers departs on October 23 for 14 nights, exploring the outer reefs and unique marine systems of the Great Barrier Reef. It will include meeting researchers at the Lizard Island Research Station, contributing bird observations to BirdLife Australia and participating in monitoring programs such as Coral Watch. A 10-night Great Barrier Reef expedition in March 2024 and 2025 will focus on turtles and rays.
Divers can join the Spirit of Freedom Expedition to the iconic Ribbon Reefs north of Port Douglas on December 14-17 to help Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef collect images for the Great Barrier Reef Census. As well as diving extraordinary reefs, participants will learn how to conduct reef surveys to collect data on the health of the reef.
Spend a week volunteering at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island with No Limit Adventures or join their Marine Conservation Program on the Great Barrier Reef over 12 days while you learn to scuba dive. Once certified as a diver you will undertake conservation tasks such as Rapid Monitoring Surveys to determine the health and resilience of the reef.
To learn more about the Wet Tropics World Heritage-listed rainforest and wildlife conservation join a four-day Nature, Wildlife and Conservation Safari with FNQ Nature Tours. Immersive wildlife encounters are guaranteed through access to exclusive areas like Forever Wild’s Tropical Wetlands Shared Earth Reserve which boasts more than 220 recorded species of birds. A highlight of the tour is connecting with the unsung heroes of nature and conservation in Tropical North Queensland including Rainforest Rescue, Wildlife and Raptor Care Queensland, and the Tolga Bat Hospital.
Twitchers might prefer to do the five-day Birdwatching North Queensland expedition covering a variety of environments in the Wet Tropics which is home to more than 450 avian species. The southern cassowary, Victoria’s riflebird and the tooth-billed bower bird are among the 13 endemic species regularly seen. FNQ Nature Tours also hosts private expeditions in partnership with the Australian Quoll Conservancy checking camera traps and motion detection areas to catalogue sightings of the threatened spotted-tail quoll.
Rainforestation Nature Park at Kuranda has four, six and eight-week International Volunteer Programs allowing visitors to work with wildlife while immersing themselves in the local culture and lifestyle of Tropical North Queensland. Join experienced wildlife keepers to help with various duties around the park including maintaining the displays and preparing food for the wildlife.
Preparing food for native wildlife and collecting leaves for koalas are among the tasks for the Wildlife Volunteers at Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas. You will join the keepers on guided tours of the park and engage with visitors while you undertake your duties. The week-long placements start each Tuesday.