Australian EdVenture: An Ecological and Cultural Exploration

The massive island of Australia is full of endemic species—plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Join a Zoo naturalist and fellow adults as we adventure throughout multiple ecosystems, learning more about the unique wildlife of this country-continent, from wallabies to emus to koalas, and the conservation issues facing them.

The Minnesota Zoo is partnering with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and government agencies, non-profits, and educators across Australia to bring you this unique, action-packed itinerary. During our ten days in Australia, we’ll explore waterfalls, wetlands, and rainforests. We’ll snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, learn more about Australia Aboriginal culture, and take a tour through one of the top places to see a platypus in the wild. We’ll visit sanctuaries that are home to kangaroos, koalas, and crocodiles, assist in citizen science projects that help researchers protect Australian ecosystems, and eat traditional Australian foods. With a small maximum group size, this trip offers you the optimal program to dive deep into a new understanding of Australian wildlife and conservation issues. We can’t wait to travel down under with you!

Date: Wednesday, April 4th to Sunday, April 16th, 2018, including travel time (after travel time, this leaves ten days on the ground in Australia)
Age: Adults 21+
Cost: $3,700 per person, plus round-trip airfare and baggage fees. | Your trip cost includes all daily meals, transportation, accommodation and experiential program facilitation once landing at the Townsville International Airport. The cost does not include your round-trip flight cost to Australia, checked bag fees, meals or snacks while traveling to and from Australia, souvenirs, and a $20 travelers’ visa.
Solo Travelers: You will be paired with another traveler of the same gender for hotel rooms. If you would prefer to have your own sleeping room for an additional $700 per person, please register normally online and then email Kristie Nord right after you register: educate@mnzoo.org.  Tell her you are requesting your own room and the additional fee will be added to your order.
Deposit: A $500 deposit will be due at the time of registration. Final payments due by February 4, 2018.

How to Register

Register Online

Registration deadline is January 15, 2018. Space is limited.

Following is a list of some of what we’ll do over the course of our adventure! Email liz.e.dengate@state.mn.us for a full itinerary or information about where we’ll be visiting and staying.

Day 1: Welcome to Townsville North Queensland!

  • Private transfer from Townsville International Airport to hotel
  • Townsville City Sites Tour
  • Lunch on Townsville’s waterfront “The Strand”
  • Evening presentation from Hands-on Wildlife: All About Venomous Creatures!
    • Staying safe is easy, especially when you have a better understanding of how the animals behave, where you might find them, and what to do if you are lucky enough to see them.  You will have the chance to touch and hold some of our less dangerous animals as well!
  • Overnight accommodation: City Oasis Inn

Day 2:  Wet Tropics Rainforest

  • Private transfer from hotel to the Paluma Range National Park (Wet Tropics Rainforest)
  • Wet Tropics Rainforest expedition
    • The Paluma region is a bird watcher’s paradise. Some of the region’s most rare and endangered species can be found here. The township of Paluma is home to a wide array of impressive native rainforest bird species while further past Paluma there are opportunities to view dry tropical forest birds.
  • Platypus viewing tour! This tour has a 98% success rate.
  • Overnight accommodation: Hidden Valley Cabins

Day 3:  Wetlands and Waterfalls

  • Visit Wallaman Falls. The highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia, Wallaman Falls is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, home to some of the oldest rainforests on earth and many endangered plants and animals.
  • Visit the Tyto wetlands – bird watching and wetland tour. TYTO Wetlands is a 110 hectare rehabilitated wetland area, home to unique flora and fauna including over 240 species of birds and many agile Wallabies.
  • Overnight accommodation: Hidden Valley Cabins

Day 4:  Australian Aboriginal Culture

  • Visit Mungulla Station – Explore Australian Aboriginal culture
    • ‘Captive Lives’ story telling program
    • Aussie BBQ lunch
  • Private transfer to hotel
  • Overnight accommodation: City Oasis

Day 5:  Australian Wildlife Adventure

  • Visit the Billabong Sanctuary, permanent home to native over 100 species of Australian mammals and reptiles such as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, crocodiles, and birds including parrots and cassowaries. In addition, the natural billabong (lake) at the centre of the sanctuary is host to many visiting animals, some of which will breed and raise their young at the sanctuary.
    • Day of specialized talks and tours including behind the scenes tours
  • Ferry transfer to Magnetic Island
  • Arrive at Bungalow Bay Koala Sanctuary
    • Magnetic Island (“Maggie”, as the locals affectionately know it), is a world-heritage listed island on the Great Barrier Reef and was inscribed on the world heritage list in recognition of its stunning natural beauty. The island is a bushwalkers paradise with over 20 kilometres of walking tracks and many lookouts. More than two thirds of the island is national park and home to northern Australia’s largest koala colony. Rock wallabies are commonly seen on steep slopes in the early morning. Along the beaches; gulls, terns, sand pipers and dotterels can be seen, while osprey, brahminy kites and white-bellied sea eagles soar the skies.
  • Welcome Dinner with Bungalow Bay Rangers
  • Wildlife Interaction program
  • Overnight accommodation: Bungalow Bay Koala Village

Day 6:  Magnetic Island

  • Breakfast with the Koalas!
    • The chef cooked breakfast is set within a unique setting amongst native trees and a setting typical to outback Australia. During the course of the morning you will be able to cook your toast over the fire, make jaffles and cook them in the burning coals as well as being greeted by native Australian animals including Koalas, crocodiles and snakes.
  • Koala population study
  • Koala food source tree planting activity
  • Presentation from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on Island Management
  • Overnight accommodation: Bungalow Bay Koala Village

Day 7: Magnetic Island

  • Four Beaches Hike – Native wildlife sightseeing with Lunch on Florence Bay
  • Forts Walk (one of the best ways to explore Magnetic Island is on foot. A network of walking tracks allows you to appreciate the island’s natural environment protected within the national park.  One of the most popular tracks on the island, the Forts walk leads to historic WWII fortifications and infrastructure. Koalas are often seen in trees along the track. The walk culminates in 360 degree views from the top of the fortifications.)
  • SeaLink Ferry transfer to Townsville
  • Overnight accommodation: City Oasis

Day 8: ReefHQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium

  • Visit ReefHQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, the Australian Government’s National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef.  The Coral Reef Exhibition which the Aquarium is built around is the largest living coral reef aquarium in the world.
  • Introduction to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • Creature Feature Workshop. You’ll have a hands-on opportunity to interact with animals such as the baby leopard sharks, rays, sea cucumbers and sea stars that inhabit Discovery Lagoon and call the Great Barrier Reef home.
  • Reef Discovery Behind-the-Scenes Tour
  • Visit to Turtle Hospital
  • Reef Discovery Snorkel and introduction to Reef Health Assessment
    • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s “Rapid Monitoring Program” is the latest community monitoring (Citizen Science) tool that enables community members to participate in monitoring the health of the Great Barrier Reef.  You will receive in-water training within Reef HQ Aquarium’s Coral Reef Exhibition, instructed in the simplified steps and use of diagrams on underwater slates.  The Rapid Monitoring Program can easily be adopted by people who may not have a scientific background.
  • Overnight accommodation: City Oasis

Day 9:  Diving / Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

  • Private transfer to marina to board M.V. Adrenalin
  • Day trip to the Great Barrier Reef – snorkeling or scuba diving (scuba diving is optional and available for an extra cost)
    • The Central Section of the Great Barrier Reef, off shore from Townsville, is a little further off the Queensland Coast than other sections and as a result has some of the best sites of the whole Great Barrier Reef. Experience it for yourself on board our 14m custom built vessel M.V. Adrenalin designed with your comfort in mind, with fully shaded areas, sun deck, stabilizers, toilet, shower, along with easy access in & out of the water.
    • Our preferred reef for day trips is Lodestone Reef. We have chosen this reef for its diversity of sites, great coral cover, fish life and reasonable protection. We have a number of sites around this reef and will choose the best site on the day.
    • Depths at Lodestone range from 1 metre to 20 metres making it ideal for snorkelers, beginner and experienced divers. Big schools of trevally and bait fish are common as well as a myriad of colourful reef fish including Parrot fish, Maori wrasse, Clown fish, Angel fish, Turtles, Stingrays, White tip and Black tip reef sharks are often sighted.
  • Overnight accommodation: City Oasis

Day 10: Depart Townsville North Queensland

  • Final group breakfast!
  • Private transfer from hotel to Townsville International Airport

Accessibility and Experience: No previous experience is required. The activities within the program will require a moderate level of physical health and mobility.

We will purchase flights as a group through the state travel agency once the trip is full, to ensure that everyone travels together on the same flights. The flight total will be added to your balance online.

Cancellation policy the Adults Australia Travel EdVenture 2018:
If you cancel your trip:
More than 4 months prior (for this trip: before December 4): Full refund of land cost minus a $100 transaction fee
2-4 months prior (for this trip: December 4 and February 4):  50% refund of land cost
Fewer than 2 months prior (for this trip: after February 4): No refund
(*Any flight payments are not refunded)

 If you would like more information on this trip, or to be placed on the interested list for any future trips, please e-mail Liz Dengate at liz.e.dengate@state.mn.us.