People to People

Bold text is taken from the P2P 'Schedule of Activities' document.
Italic text is taken from my own notes.

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Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef portion of this trip did not follow the 'Schedule of Activities' at all, to my recollection. If I remember correctly, we split off from the Las Vegas group -- possibly because the Townsville Aquarium couldn't accommodate all of us at once. At any rate, I believe we went to Magnetic Island first, while the other group stayed in Townsville for a few days, but all of the dates listed here are just guesses. Unfortunately, I don't have a more detailed itinerary for these days, as my intentions of maintaining a journal only lasted until around the time we left Kangaroo Island. Also unfortunately, I lost the waterproof disposable camera that I used on the reef, so the only photos I have of this portion of the trip I acquired at the photo-exchange.

Day 14: Fri, June 18 - depart Sydney to Townsville
   Breakfast this morning will be served at the hotel. Following breakfast, a Thomas Cook representative will meet you at the hotel and assist with departure. Transfer by coach to Sydney International Airport for your 7:30 am flight to Townsville.

Sydney airport, going to Townsville
Arrived in Townsville 11 am

   Townsville is Australia's largest tropical city. Being a focal access point to the Great Barrier Reef, it has a unique atmosphere that reflects the friendliness and relaxed way of life of a coastal city. With an urban population of over 120,000, Townsville is a city on the move. With over 300 sunny days a year and very limited rainfall, Townsville and its local areas provide a vast range of experiences for any visitor. Townsville also is the home of James Cook University, The Australian Institute of Marine Science, The Great Barrier Reef Wonderland, and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Each of these institutions have gained international respect for efforts toward tropical marine education and research, and you will participate in a number of exciting activities at each place.
   Magnetic Island is Townsville's own off-shore tropical island. It is a granite-based island rising to 1500 feet at its highest point. Situated close to the mainland, it is only 5 miles or 20 minutes away by regular ferry service. The island is fringed by golden beaches and is home to a large variety of native flora and fauna, including a koala colony, rock wallabies, eucalyptus woodlands and mangroves. Magnetic Island is one of the largest islands on the Great Barrier Reef with about half of the island being maintained as a National Park. It is riddled with many walking tracks, spectacular coral fringing reefs and even shipwrecks that lie in shallow water just beneath the surface for all to enjoy.
   Townsville and Magnetic Island combined are without a doubt the two premier locations in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere to accommodate any Tropical Marine Science Program.

   Youth Science Exchange teams visiting the Great Barrier Reef in 1993 will participate in some form of research exercise. It is intended that the results will be of some use to ongoing research programs. Students throughout their visit will monitor a weather station twice daily, recording:

- air temperature
- humidity
- wind speed / direction
- atmospheric pressure
- rainfall
- cloud cover percentage
- currents and tidal changes

   Students will also be required to observe and record any other information that will aid them to complete one elective project to be chosen and completed by the end of their visit. Project choices will be given to the students on the morning of day six to be completed by the evening of day seven. The projects will then be assessed and returned to students during their counseling period on day eight. Activities sheets or workbooks will be made available for all activities throughout the week-long visit.

   Colonial Gardens Resort
   The Lakes, Woolcock Street
   tel: (077) 25 2222, fax: (077) 25 1384

Colonial Gardens Resort
in Townsville
I could be mis-remembering this entirely, but I recall this hotel having a very fun pool -- actually, two separate pools connected by a waterway that you could (sort of) swim along... [opens new tab to investigate]... Once again, GoogleMaps to the rescue -- Mercure Townsville, on Woolcock Street near "The Lakes Holiday Park", does indeed have two pools that appear to be connected, and it's definitely where the above photo was taken. Awesome! (photos below stolen from TripAdvisor)
Here's the waterway I remembered!

Day 15: Sat, June 19 - depart Townsville to Magnetic Island
(Day 17: Mon, June 21 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   Following breakfast this morning, transfer to Magnetic Island.
   Today's activities will include island familiarization. Students will also be given the list of elective projects to choose from.

Magnetic Island orientation
learning to play cricket on Magnetic Island

   Island activities will include:

   Coastal environments deserve the greatest respect, especially from the newcomer. Students will become familiar with potential hazards of marine environments and be introduced to working in a "buddy system".

Scans of my Barrier Reef workbook.

   Most animals in any marine environment seek only to defend themselves or their offspring. It is therefore important for any newcomer to a reef area to be more aware and be able to identify unfriendly marine creatures which might be met during snorkeling or reef walking activities.

More workbook scans.

   Snorkeling can be an essential part of any marine science program. It allows one to make lengthy in-water observations of marine life. All students shall receive sufficient training in the use of all snorkeling equipment in shallow water before any assignments are undertaken.

More workbook scans.

   To see a coral reef for the first time as you walk from the beach across the reef flat to the edge of the reef is an unforgettable experience. Students will develop skills and confidence in observing, handling living things, and recording information on marine life from a predetermined area on the reef.

   The change in diversity and the adopted nocturnal behavior of coastal marine life is quite different to that of the day. Students will explore a given area observing and recording any changes between night and day.

   Picnic Bay Hotel
   1 The Esplanade, Picnic Bay
   Magnetic Island
   tel: (077) 78 5166, fax: (077) 58 1025

Day 16: Sun, June 20 - Magnetic Island
(Day 18: Tues, June 22 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   Today students will begin to compile all necessary information to enable them to prepare for their elective assignment on Day 6.

   Aerial photographs are an excellent way of making a preliminary map of reef top features. The map can then be checked by looking at the reef itself and further by snorkeling over the top of it.

   In order to identify the multitude of creatures on the reef, students will need to be able to classify them using certain characteristics and classification keys. Emphasis will initially be placed on appearance, movement and color of a creature, working toward scientific classification.

More workbook scans.

   Corals are the most conspicuous component of a coral reef and possibly draw the most curiosity and questions. Students will become familiar with the basic shapes in which coral colonies grow and the various ways that coral polyps are packed together inside the colonies.

Scans from a coral polyps leaflet.

Scans from a spawning coral leaflet.

   Many mariners have come to grief in the shallow waters around Magnetic Island. It is littered with the ruins of shipwrecks that lay just beneath the surface. Weather conditions determine what wreck can be snorkeled with the destination being decided on the day.

snorkeling in a cove

Day 17: Mon, June 21 - Magnetic Island
(Day 19: Wed, June 23 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   Students will demonstrate their sensory awareness (other than sight) to learn about the environment and develop their trust in others. While blindfolded, students will be led along a safe track identifying various things using all other senses.

   One elective assignment is to be completed by each student. Examples of assignments are as follows:

   Students are to compile a list of all animals seen in a given area, classifying them into major groups when possible. An acurate map is to be produced including animal counts and sketches with explanations of any unidentified lifeforms.

More workbook scans.

   One reef creature is to be selected and studied by the student. Observations are to be made as to how the animal has adapted to its environment through its structural, functional and behavioral characteristics.

   With the use of a plankton net, students are to catch and identify marine organisms that make up plankton. The role that plankton plays in the food web and life cycles of marine organisms and the part played in the distribution of marine plants and animals will be investigated as well.

Day 18: Tues, June 22 - depart Magnetic Island to Townsville
(Day 20: Thurs, June 24 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   The last day of the program will be spent at Kelso Reef on a 100-foot pontoon. The waters around Kelso Reef are always crystal clear, allowing you to best appreciate this mysterious world. Glass bottom boat, semi-submersible viewing of the reef, guided snorkel tours and free snorkel time will be available, ensuring quite a finale to your visit to the reef.

   Students will also demonstrate acquired knowledge and skills by producing lists of marine animals and plants not encountered on Magnetic Island.
   All elective assignments will be completed and handed in for review upon return to Townsville.

staff at Magnetic Island:
Brad, Kim, Andy, & Mark

Day 19: Wed, June 23 - Townsville - aquarium
(Day 16: Sun, June 20 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   Today's activities will include morning educational activities and lunch at the hotel before transferring to:


   The aquarium is the largest living coral reef aquarium in the world. It contains over 300 species of coral and 250 species of reef fish. In a separate tank, sharks and other larger carnivorous fish can be observed as can many specialized reef creatures in separate smaller tanks. A touch tank and state of the art audio-visual equipment help to make the facility a leader in entertainment, education and a tribute to marine technology.

While all of the photos so far on this page were from the photo-exchange, the remainder are (mostly) from my final roll of film.

diver in reef tank

giant clam

male shark

female shark

Lucky the sea turtle
(feeding time in predator tank)

   One of only two in Australia and 34 in the world, the Omnimax features a 60-foot-high domed screen and the experience is one of the most exciting imaginable in this age of extraordinary communication development. The film that the students will view is on the Great Barrier Reef and was filmed by the world famous Ron and Valerie Taylor.

   A division of the Queensland Museum in which high quality gallery displays deal with the history of flora and fauna of Tropical Queensland. Actual-size models of ancient dinosaurs, displays related to famous shipwrecks, and a detailed collection of unique Australian animals, reptiles and insects are on display.

   The highlight of the day will be an overnight "sleep-out" inside the aquarium. After dinner, students will begin a series of activity sheets about the marine life in, and the aquarium itself. Later that evening (approximately 11 pm), the students will participate in a "Reef Experience of a Lifetime" -- observing the main tank at night. With the aid of flashlights they will be able to observe nocturnal creatures on the reef and fish sleeping nestled very tightly in between coral branches. As an extra bonus, there will also be a diver inside the tank with an ultra-violet light to illuminate some of the wonders that the human eye might miss. The diver will also be able to communicate with the guide on the outside world to describe what he is doing and answer any questions. This will be an evening that only a lucky few will ever get the chance to experience!

Scans from my Aquarium Activity Sheets.

Day 20: Thurs, June 24 - Townsville - sightseeing
(Day 15: Sat, June 19 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   Today will be spent taking advantage of some of the attractions that Townsville has to offer. It will include a visit to:

   AIMS is one of the leading centers in the world for tropical marine research. The Institute has established an international reputation in marine science and technology. Most projects being undertaken are principally associated with the understanding of coastal and reef processes and resources in tropical seas and the living marine communities of tropical Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
   During their visit to AIMS, students will learn about and experience some of the most up to date methods of Research Engineering and Technology. With their guides, they will visit the Engineering and Technical facility and the Marine Science Section to observe several experiments and displays.

   Billabong Sanctuary is North Queensland's most spectacular wildlife sanctuary, offering a unique chance to get very close to some of Australia's native wildlife. Animals that can be seen include: wombats, dingos, koala, echidna, and also the opportunity to see the rare cassowary.
   Although Billabong Sanctuary has many native animals and birds for us to enjoy in their natural habitat, students will spend most of their time studying freshwater habitats. Physical conditions, regions, life in freshwater and conservation will be discussed and investigated to be used in a later comparison with saltwater environments.

Flying Fox fruit bat: Deborah, Haley, Hannah, Barbara, Andy (M.I. staff), & Brooke are in background of Jessie's photo

me with bat

Jessie with bat

freshwater croc
Saltwater crocodile pen
(from photo-exchange)

saltwater croc

saltwater croc
Australian python
?Black-Headed Python?
(from photo-exchange)

sulfur-crested cockatoo

(Day 20: Thurs, June 24 in 'Schedule of Activities')
   Return to Townsville for dinner and farewell party!

Day 21: Fri, June 25 - depart Townsville to Cairns, then to Los Angeles
   Before departing Townsville, all students will have their activity sheets, workbooks and assignments returned with individual or group counseling given as necessary. Mid-morning departure for Cairns.

leaving Townsville

   Lunch in Cairns at the Kunjal Aboriginal Dance Theatre.

The Aboriginal dancers performed dances representing different animals such as emu and snake. Then they picked someone from the audience (me!) to participate in a 'hunt'. I asked afterwards what animal I had 'killed' and thought the man said an iguana. Later I figured out he must have said 'goanna', which is an Australian lizard.
Then they called forward people with birthdays -- Sarah Lang (from Las Vegas) and 2 others -- to do a 'birthday dance'.

   Afternoon exploration of Cairns followed by dinner and departure for Cairns International Airport. Flight to Los Angeles on Qantas departs at 8:55 pm. 1-hour layover at Honolulu airport, arrived in LA at 6:35 pm.

Day 22: Sat, June 26 - Arrive Los Angeles, to DFW
   Left LA on American Airlines 12:50 am. Arrived DFW 5:47 am. All of our luggage got sent to Las Vegas with the Las Vegas group, so the airline had to deliver the bags to us when they finally arrived in Dallas.

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