Edu-tourism a new service | NQ Dry Tropics news
Select Page

Early foray into edu-tourism is


NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer JJ Walker with Texas A&M University professor Gerard Kyle at Magnetic Island.

EXPLAINING to a group of increasingly wide-eyed American university students what will and won’t kill them in the Australian landscape is a role not normally tackled by project officers in the NQ Dry Tropics’ Protecting Biodiversity team.

The team is at the forefront of an initiative being trialled by the company in an emerging market: “edu-tourism”.

So far, NQ Dry Tropics’ role in edu-tourism has been to assist tourism operators offering educational Australian tours.

TURN BACK… a Texas A&M University student takes another path after finding a spider in the rainforest.

NRM Implementation Manager Peter Gibson

NQ Dry Tropics Natural Resource Management (NRM) Implementation Manager Peter Gibson said the company was “dipping a toe into the water in edu-tourism” but the potential existed to become more involved.

A cohort of about 30 students from the Texas A&M University, recently received the first lecture of their 24-day Australian tour from NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer JJ Walker.

The students landed in Australia the night before and stayed at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island.

Led by expatriate Australian, Professor Gerard Kyle, the tour was planned to include lectures and experiences to give the students an understanding of the marine and terrestial ecosystems in different regions, as well as looking at the conservation efforts in those ecosystems.

Professor Kyle said they would also gain an insight into the culture, heritage and knowledge of indigenous Australians during the trip.

Ms Walker’s lecture provided the students with an introduction to the incredible diversity in the Australian landscape.

She said the continent’s long geographic isolation and wide range of climatic zones resulted in its unique and diverse flora and fauna.

“Here in Townsville, we have a hot, humid summer and a warm winter, leading to tropical savannas,” she said.

“We get droughts, floods, fires, extreme heat and mild winters.”

She said the climate was so varied, different parts of the country could, on the same day experience 45 degree midday sun in one place through to snow fall in another.

Bungalow Bay ranger Georgia Whitton and proprietor Brett Flemming.

The unique Australian wildlife including its monotremes and marsupials, was of particular interest to the students.

Ms Walker led a nature walk from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay and on the way the group encountered a koala, some spectacular spiders, various birds including kookaburras, flying foxes (heard, but not seen), green ants and a wide variety of native fauna.

She also pointed out some of the invasive weed threats encroaching on the fringes of the rainforest including mother-in-law’s tongue, daisy weed, leucaena and Captain Cook tree.

However, it was Ms Walker’s warnings about the dangerous creatures that might be encountered in the Australian bush that held most interest for the visitors. From the harsh Australian sun to venomous snakes and spiders, poisonous and prickly plants and the marine dangers to be aware of when swimming, the students were obviously paying close attention, one student coming back to the lecture venue to check if kookaburras were dangerous before negotiating a way around a visiting bird to get to her room.

Mr Gibson said NQ Dry Tropics’ involvement opened a potential new source of revenue at the same time supporting regional tourism and promoting the company’s achievements.

He said he thought there were three steps to progress the company’s involvement if it panned out well.

The first was this involvement with edu-tourism operator Brett Flemming from Bungalow Bay Koala Sanctuary and Mr Gibson hoped it would expand to include the option for students to get their hands dirty in some of the company’s beach scrub projects on Magnetic Island.

The next step would be to partner with other tourism operators to take them further afield in our region.

“Visiting a grazing property to help build a stick dam, would be one way we could build capacity and give them a hands-on NRM experience,” he said.

“Ultimately, if it is successful, we could offer, say a two-day package in partnership with regional accommodation and transport providers.

“We could take a group to a Bowen, or Collinsville property, visiting wetland, cane and grazing projects on the way.

“We would allow time for recreation – perhaps, some fishing – and maybe a beach barbecue at sunset.

Mr Gibson said he had been an edu-tourist in South America where, in Peru, he was intrigued to see sugar cane growing in a desert.

He had to learn more, and it helped him understand why people would be attracted to travel and learning.

NQ Dry Tropics’ NRM work does attract some corporate sponsorship, but the overwhelming majority of its funding comes from the State and Commonwealth governments.

”This is the future of edu-tourism…”


NQ Dry Tropics Biodiversity Project Officer JJ Walker is originally from Baltimore, USA. 
She came to North Queensland to study, loved it and stayed. 

Posing for a snapshot after walking from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay.

Basalt Wall Hole in the basalt
wall a clear threat
ALMOST by accident the urgent nature of a growing hole in the Great Basalt Wall north of Charters Towers has come under scrutiny in reconnaissance for flood repair grants. Read more
Dick-isms Education can be
a laughing matter
SO what IS a "Dick-ism"? Regenerative grazing educator Dick Richardson is famous for them, but what exactly are they and what is their purpose? Find out here. Read more
Reef Credit Read more Reef Credit scheme
a new opportunity
ENVIRONMENTAL markets may prove to be a timely new source of revenue for Natural Resource Management groups. Traditionally reliant on government funds, NRMs may have new opportunities.
Quiz Fun quiz to test
your knowledge
EVERYBODY loves a wetland. But do you really know what a wetland is? And its ecological function?
Here's 10 fun facts about Wetlands, but be careful you don't wind up mired in the swamp...
Play now
More to learn
at our website
THERE'S a wealth of information available at the NQ Dry Tropics website, even a free on-line library with almost 400 publications available. Read more
Publications Read more Read one of our
on-line publications
OUR Annual Report, Strategic Plan, and the NRM and Water Quality Improvement plans are all available in an easy-to-read format online.
Subscribe SUBSCRIBE! IF you enjoyed this newsletter, make sure you subscribe to avoid missing out. It's free, you can cancel anytime and your details will not be shared, or used for any other purpose. Join here