Australia 20 Day Whales and Wildlife Expedition

Australia 20 Day Whales and Wildlife Expedition

Program Highlights

Australia 20 Day Whales and Wildlife Expedition

Dates: 20 days   |   Tuition: $8,399 Average tuition with airfare Learn More

On this program...

  • Snorkel with Minkie Whales alongside researchers
  • Experience Australian wildlife and volunteer on conservation projects
  • Participate in traditional Aboriginal ceremonies
  • Visit the Sydney Opera House

Group Organizer/s: 

Your contact info here.

WTT Contact: 

Morrison Mast, morrison@walkingtree.org, 703-955-9718

Deadlines: TBD

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SAMPLE PROGRAM PAGE: This is an example of what your private program webpage and itinerary might look like, as you decide to organize a program with us. Please begin by reviewing the suggested itinerary listed under the Pre-Enrollment tab, and then feel free to read through other sections to get a sense of the in-depth information and support we provide for all programs.

Click on the sections above to learn more

Sample Itinerary

DayLocationActivityLodging
1USA - SydneyToday we’ll depart the US and fly across the Pacific to the city of Sydney, Australia.International flight
2USA - SydneyThis day is lost in transit as you cross the International Date Line. Don’t worry; you’ll get it back on the way back!International flight
3SydneyWe’ll land and meet our driver, who will take us into the city for our first day in Australia! We will check into our hotel, have an introduction to Australian history and culture, have lunch, and proceed with a guided walk in the city, including a visit to the Sydney Opera House and the famous Harbour Bridge. We will have a welcome dinner and get rested up after our long flight over.Sydney YHA
4SydneyWake up early, we are having breakfast with Koalas! Today we will introduce you to Australia’s unique fauna at Wildlife Sydney. You'll see kangaroos, wallabies, quokkas, koalas, crocodiles, Tasmanian devils, cassowaries and many other unique Australian mammals, birds and reptiles. Breakfast will be at the zoo amongst the koalas. We will have an opportunity to explore Darling Harbour and have lunch before going out on a boat to see migrating humpback whales. In the late afternoon we will participate in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk to get a panorama of the city and its surroundings Sydney YHA
5SydneyToday we will take a walking tour of downtown Sydney, visiting the Hyde Park Barracks to learn about how Sydney began as a penal colony with convicts from Britain. We then visit the Australian Museum and the War Memorial. After lunch, students will have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs before walking to a nearby ferry to sail for Taronga Zoo, arriving at 6pm. We will be spending a special night in one of Australia’s best zoos. After settling in and having dinner we will enjoy a night encounter with animals from Australia and the world. Learn about the conservation efforts of the zoo. Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo
6Sydney/CairnsIn the morning after breakfast, we will engage in behind the scenes tours followed by close encounters with a variety of Australian animals. We will explore the zoo on our own till lunch. After lunch we board a coach and head to Sydney airport for a flight to Cairns.Youth Hostel at Cairns
7CairnsToday we will introduce you to Australia’s Aboriginal culture with the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience at the Rainforestation Park, where we'll see dances that depict native animals, and activities such as food gathering and hunting. We'll partake in some of these activities, as well as get the chance to see the tree kangaroo. In the afternoon, we will experience the wet tropical rainforest aboard an amphibious WWII army Duck vehicle for both a drive and a cruise.
Youth Hostel at Cairns
8Daintree and Cape TribulationWe'll have an early morning drive to a ferry over the Daintree River to get to Cape Tribulation. On the way we will visit the Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat and spend time at Cooya Beach being shown how to spear fish and hunt crabs the traditional Aboriginal way. We will cook the catch up for lunch. Travelling further, we will visit the Alexandra Lookout to view the Daintree Forest and the coastal reefs that are part of the Great Barrier Reef; discussing the links between reef and rainforest. We will then visit the Daintree Discovery Centre for a closer look at the forest canopy and floor through the tower and the aerial walkway, boardwalk and interpretive displays. Learn about the many of species of plants and animals that inhabit the tropical north of Australia, many being endemic to Australasia. After dinner, we will embark on a night tour of the forest to look for creatures that come out at night.
Cape Tribulation Beach Guest House
9Daintree and Cape TribulationThis morning we will visit the Daintree Rainforest Observatory of James Cook University. At this site we will see how researchers are studying the effects of climate change on the rainforest. We will take a ride in the crane that will lift us to the canopy height of the forest. After lunch we will go for a snorkel with Ocean Safari. A boat will take us to the 2 snorkel sites that are close to mainland, Mackay Reef and Undine Reef. We'll see and learn about coral reefs and how they support a huge diversity of marine life including sea turtles, fishes, giant clams and may other invertebrates.Cape Tribulation Beach Guest house
10Daintree and Cape TribulationThis morning we leave Cape Tribulation and head south towards Cairns. On the way we will stop to go on a cruise on the Daintree River to look for saltwater crocodiles. We then head for the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre to learn more about the traditional Aboriginal people of that region by taking the "Dreamtime Walk". An indigenous guide will welcome us with a traditional ceremony, tell stories, visit a sacred ceremony site, demonstrate ochre painting and provide a snack of tea and damper. Youth Hostel at Cairns
11CairnsToday we will be volunteering on a critically important conservation project that impacts unique local ecosystems next to Cairns. We will partner with the Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Wet Tropics management Authority to survey, detect and eradicate colonies of invasive ants from the suburban areas bordering the wet forests.Youth Hostel at Cairns
12Atherton TablelandsToday we travel to the Atherton Tablelands which are the highlands inland of Cairns. We will see the Cathedral Fig Tree and take a rainforest walk at Lake Barrine National Park before lunch and a swim at Lake Eacham. We will visit several waterfalls and have a swim at the falls at Millaa Millaa, and visit a crater in Mt Hypipamee National Park. We end the day with Platypus spotting followed by a BBQ dinner at the lodge.On the Wallaby Lodge
13Atherton TablelandsWe start with a guided mountain bike ride (downhill) in the Herberton Range National Park. After lunch we will go for some canoeing at Lake Tinaroo. We will then go spotting for wildlife such as the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, birds and water dragons. Return to the lodge for dinner.On the Wallaby Lodge
14AthertonWe start our conservation volunteering for habitat rehabilitation of the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. This species of tree kangaroo is one of two species found in Australia. Our role will be weeding and planting native rainforest species to create safe corridors for the tree kangaroos to navigate from one forest to another.On the Wallaby Lodge
15CairnsToday, we'll continue to work on tree kangaroo habitat restoration in the wet tropical rainforests of northern Queensland.On the Wallaby Lodge
16Minke Whale CruiseToday, we will embark on aircraft for Lizard Island which is located 40 minutes' flight north of Cairns. We'll have a bird's eye view of many fringing coral reefs that form part of the Great Barrier Reef. After landing we will be ferried to the catamaran which we will be sailing in for the next three nights. That afternoon will begin our snorkeling adventures and meet the Dwarf Minke whales for the first time. After dinner, you will be briefed by the researcher on board on how to survey the minke whales. You may be asked to take specific photographs for identifying individuals or recording particular behaviors. All data you collect will be passed to conservation researchers and used to understand the behavior and ecology of these whales, their migration patterns and to manage whale tourism.
Catamaran at Sea
17Minke Whale CruiseContinuation of snorkeling and Minke whale data collection. Catamaran at Sea
18Minke Whale CruiseContinuation of snorkeling and Minke whale data collection. Catamaran at Sea
19Cairns After the boat docks at Cairns Harbour we will have a free day in Cairns to explore this historic, seaside city and do some end-of-trip shopping before our departure. We'll have a farewell dinner and ceremony before getting some rest for our long journey home tomorrow. Youth Hostel at Cairns
20Cairns - USAEarly morning flight back to the USA- get your lost day back!

Philosophy Of Travel

Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Walking Tree Travel designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.

Walking Tree Travel stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.

Tuition & Fundraising

Tuition Includes:

Tuition Excludes:
Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.

Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized. 

We believe that cost should not prevent enthusiastic students from having the opportunity to join an WTT program. We are pleased to offer opportunities for fundraising and payment plans to help make this goal a reality. Please visit our Tuition and Funding page to find out more about tuition, fundraising, payment options, referral discounts, and more.

Visit Tuition & Funding

Standards of Behavior

WTT provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
  3. Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. Breaking group rules

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with WTT.

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Passport & Visa Check

Passport & Visa Check

US CITIZENS
Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
No Visa Requirements for US Citizens traveling to Australia.

NON US CITIZENS OR THOSE TRAVELING FROM A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE USA
Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.

Please contact us for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Australia website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Beyond these recommendations, our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

VACCINATIONS
Vaccination information and requirements can change frequently. Because of this, and for more information, we suggest that you consult your local travel clinic and/or family physician for specific details.

Travel Insurance

Our experience has taught us that international travel can sometimes be unpredictable. As such, WTT will purchase basic secondary travel and medical insurance for all WTT travelers via Travel Insured International. This service provides the following coverage at no additional cost to our participants:

PLAN COVERAGES

$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included

ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL COVERAGES

The following additional optional coverage upgrades are available upon request for an additional premium charge to the traveler. For further information on the premiums associated with these optional coverage enhancements, please email your inquiry to our travel insurance program administrator, Hayashi Insurance Solutions: travelinsurance@jshinsurance.com

– Trip Cancellation Coverage – Reimburses the traveler up to the trip cost insured up to a maximum of $10,000 per person if the trip must be cancelled for unforeseeable life events including but not limited to; medical/health reasons, bereavement, etc.

– Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) – Reimburses the traveler for 75% of the non-refundable trip cost. Cancellation must be made 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. Must be purchased at the same time as initial plan purchase and prior to final trip payment. *This benefit is not available to residents of New York State.

The Plan is administered by Hayashi Insurance Solutions (CA DOI 0F61680) a licensed Insurance Agency authorized to transact this insurance under the express authority of Travel Insured International, Inc. and its representatives, and on behalf of Walking Tree Travel, Inc. The Plan contains insurance benefits underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company. Fairmont Specialty and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2015. The Plan also contains non insurance Travel Assistance Services that are provided by an independent organization, OnCall International, and not by United States Fire Insurance Company or Travel Insured International. Review the Plan Document for complete terms, including benefits, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Coverages may vary and not all coverage is available in all jurisdictions.

Global Leadership Curriculum

WTT has developed a curriculum that helps each of our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame their experience, and prepare them to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future. For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

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Language Resources

DUOLINGO

Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.

Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.

duolingo owl logo

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Travel Day Details

Travel Day Details

Program participants will meet the group organizer at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the departure flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please notify your group organizer or contact WTT.

DEPARTURE FROM USA
Airline:
Flight:
Date:
Departs:
Arrives:

RETURN TO USA
Airline:

Flight:
Date:
Departs:
Arrives:

A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event WTT is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. That being said, our travelers’ well-being and safety is our number one priority, so please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments.

WTT is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage. Please also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.

UN-ACCOMPANIED MINORS
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm if this is required on your flight.

Program Staff

WTT will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Please read below to see who will be part of the support team on your program. Below you’ll find a list of the Walking Tree staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

  • William Loh
    William Loh Oceania Country Director

    The University of Sydney- BSc. (Hons), PhD. Marine Biology

    William’s love of Nature began in Malaysia where he was born, and nurtured in Australia where he grew up from the age of 13. Since graduating from Sydney University, he has worked as a national park officer, research station officer, marine biologist, geneticist, microbiologist and an educator. William has published research papers on corals, sponges, seagrass, algae, fishes, sea-slugs, clams and the effects of climate change on coral reefs. He has a passion for being a hands-on, knee-deep in mud teacher and has led field programs in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji for students from Australia, the USA, Germany and Japan. He has traveled extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Japan, the USA, South East Asia, southern Africa and other parts of the world. In his spare time, William can be found stalking marine and terrestrial wildlife for his hobby of Nature photography. Because of his upbringing in two countries, William speaks three languages (English, Malay/Indonesian and Cantonese Chinese).

    Group Roster

    Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled exactly how it appears on your passport. For edits, email lacey@walkingtree.org.

     

    Community & Project Details

    Minkie Whale Monitoring Surveys and Snorkeling

    Relatively little is known about these whales and it is assumed that they migrate every winter from Antarctic waters to locations such as the northern Great Barrier Reef. These whales seem curious of stationary ships and will readily approach snorkelers repeatedly. You will have ample opportunity to look into the eyes of these beautiful whales as they calmly cruise below or to your side. You will be briefed by the researcher on board on how to survey the minkie whales. You may be asked to take specific photographs for identifying individuals or recording particular behaviors. All data you collect will be passed to conservation researchers and used to understand the behavior and ecology of these whales, their migration patterns and to manage whale tourism.

    Darling Harbour Whale Cruise

    We will embark on a whale-watching cruise that begins as a cruise in the harbour and exits into the open ocean where migrating humpback whales can be seen. These animals migrate from Antarctic waters during the southern winter to the coastal waters off Queensland. Many of these wanderers stop to rest, and exhibit spectacular displays (fin and tail slapping, breaching, spy-hoping and others) associated with aggression, play and mating. On board we will learn about the successful conservation of this whale species after decades of hunting drove them to near extinction in Australian waters and beyond. This is an opportunity to climb to the top of Australia’s most famous “Coathanger” for some very remarkable views of the city and its surroundings. You will learn about the history of the how the bridge was built and the impact that it has had to the people of Sydney.

    Rainforestation Park

    There will also be the Dreamtime walk where you can try to make a boomerang come back, hit a target with a spear and play a didgeridoo. You will also have the opportunity to paint a canvas with traditional patterns and motifs, under the guidance of an artist. You will again get a chance to meet Australia’s unique fauna at the same Park. See many unique Australian mammals, birds and reptiles found in tropical Australia, including the tree kangaroo.

    Daintree Discovery Centre

    There is a strong chance you will be able to see wild Cassowaries in the center. These are large and flightless birds increasingly threatened by the loss of habitat in Australia. Learn about conservation issues for this and other species such as the tree kangaroo- yes- a kangaroo that hops about in the treetops!

    Tramp Ant Program

    The Tramp Ant program takes place in the Wet Tropics World Heritage area next to the suburbs of Cairns. In recent times, an Argentinean ant species, the Yellow Crazy Ants, were accidently introduced to the Cairns and the surrounding wet tropical forests, probably by hitching a ride on international cargo. Many colonies have been detected and there is immense concern that these ants could negatively impact local biodiversity. If left unchecked, these ants could spread further into the Wet Tropics. We will partner with the Parks and Wildlife authority and the Wet Tropics management Authority to survey, detect and eradicate colonies of these ants from the suburban areas bordering the wet forests.

    Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo Habitat Rehabilitation

    This species of tree kangaroo is one of two species found in Australia. Their natural habitat is in the wet tropical rainforests of northern Queensland, especially in the Atherton Tablelands. The tree kangaroos in Australia have a conservation status of Vulnerable due to large-scale loss of rainforest habitat. In addition, the fragmentation of existing habitat forces these tree roots to travel over open ground when moving from one forest to another. This activity places the tree kangaroo at risk of being hit by a car and attacked by domestic dogs. Our role will be weeding and planting native rainforest species to create safe corridors for the tree kangaroos to navigate from one forest to another.

     

    Communication & Blog

    The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.

    WTT tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to info@WalkingTree.org. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S.

    Here is the link to your blog:

    Packing List

    What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions, and shorter activities.

    Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

    Australia Packing List

    CLOTHES:

    6 pairs of underwear
    6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
    4 t-shirts (some quick dry)
    2 long sleeve shirts
    1 sweater
    1 warmer jacket
    1 rain jacket
    2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
    2 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
    1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
    1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
    1 pair of sandals (optional)
    1 pair of work gloves
    1 hat

    TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

    Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
    Mosquito repellent
    Band Aids and Neosporin
    Hand Sanitizer
    Medication in properly marked original container

    MISCELLANEOUS:

    Sunglasses
    Journal and pen
    Book
    Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
    Power Converter
    Alarm Clock and watch
    Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
    Durable water bottle
    1 quick-dry towel
    Flashlight/headlamp
    Batteries
    Deck of cards or other portable games
    Host family gift
    STUDENT ID
    Spanish/English Dictionary

     

    Tuition Details

    Tuition Includes:

    Tuition Excludes:
    Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.

    Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized. 

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