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Expedition Briefing

Expedition Briefing

Why Does it Matter

The Lead Scientist

Welcome to Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef, which is jointly supported by Earthwatch and James Cook University. We are very pleased to have your involvement in a challenging yet rewarding field of science that will focus on understanding the ecosystem response to proposed reef restoration techniques specifically removal of macroalgae (i.e. sea-weeding), to reduce direct competition and open space for new coral larvae to settle. This project engages the citizen scientists, providing opportunities to learn about the research, gain field skills, and help collect data.

Coral reefs around the world are under increasing threats from direct human activities and global climate shifts, which together are contributing to accelerating rates of reef deterioration. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is fundamental to our nation’s economy and a national icon that needs to be preserved to ensure ongoing sustainability of our marine resources. Warming seawater temperatures, ocean acidification, and increased freshwater inputs carrying pollutants on to these reefs all impact on the health of corals, the major group of organisms that build the structural framework of coral reefs. Understanding how these environmental stressors cause declining coral health and cover is critical for preventing the loss of coral reefs and an important step towards preserving them for future generations.

This project will be conducted on Magnetic Island, just off the coast of Townsville in the central inshore section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The island is home to approximately 3000 people, and hence offers excellent facilities for hosting scientists and participants and provides convenient access to surrounding coral reefs.

Research supported by this Earthwatch program focuses on macroalgae, which have come to dominate the inshore reefs around Magnetic Island, and other inshore reefs throughout the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. While the direct cause of these benthic community shifts has been debated, it is clear that recent pressures necessitate more direct recovery actions for reef conservation and management to be effective in the future. Macroalgal removal has been proposed as an active intervention measure to aid reef recovery, through reduced competition and increased available substrate for coral recruitment. The baseline information on the effects (both positive and negative) of macroalgal removal on reef community structure and ecology have not been rigorously generated however. This Earthwatch project therefore is focused on quantifying the ecological effects of macroalgal removal on reefs surrounding Magnetic Island through assessing abundance of coral and algal taxa, fish assemblages, coral recruitment levels and the photobiology of coral colonies in permanent replicate quadrats with and without active algal removal.

In light of current threats to coral reef systems, it is important to investigate the effectiveness of active reef recovery actions. This is where your help is required; we need to provide the scientific evidence to allow reef managers to make decisions on if macroalgal removal is a good or bad idea for improving reef health. We look forward to meeting and engaging with you in these scientific activities.

Yours faithfully, David Bourne

The Research

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) supports one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet and also provides large economic benefits through fisheries, tourism and other marinerelated industries. However, a long-term reef-monitoring program has shown that coral cover on the GBR has halved in the last three decades. Some of the largest identified contributors to the decline of GBR corals are storm-derived physical damage, bleaching and disease. Whether coral reefs damaged by severe disturbance events undergo coral recovery (i.e. the restoration of abundance and composition of coral communities) or a phase shift to ecosystems dominated by non-coral organisms (e.g. macroalgae) defines the resilience of coral reefs, and is often influenced by ecological conditions.

In addition to researching coral disease, previous Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef expeditions on Orpheus Island has helped to understand the recovery of coral communities after severe disturbance and the underlying mechanism of coral recovery. For example, it has been shown that branching corals are quick to recolonize areas, and that areas of high wave exposure have higher density of new coral colonies following disturbances. These studies have provided invaluable information on the fine-scale processes involved in the recovery of coral reefs, specifically around the dynamics of coral populations that are essential for determining reef resilience following major disturbance.

However, we have moved into an era when repeated disturbance impacts (storms, bleaching, disease outbreaks) have resulted in concerning ongoing declines of reef health globally. Active management intervention has now become a priority for many reef managers, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). In July 2018, GBRMPA updated its “Reef 2050” plan, the overarching framework for protecting and managing the reef with practical and novel interventions to improve reef health. The baseline information provided by earlier work that established how reefs recover from disturbance can therefore be used to assess the success of any active reef intervention strategy.

Macroalgae flourishes under conditions where terrestrial runoff, increased sedimentation and nutrient loading creates an environment more conducive to macroalgal growth. However, other disturbance events such as storms, mass bleaching, and even reduced herbivory creates space for further opportunistic macroalgae proliferation, thereby additionally reducing the opportunity for coral recovery. These conditions can prompt a shift from a coral to a less desirable macroalgae-dominated regime. Importantly, the return of coral dominance is rare once newly dominant fleshy macroalgae communities have established. While many of the fundamental mechanisms that underpin macroalgae regime shifts have been identified, their persistence and reasoning for why macroalgae regimes are difficult to reverse back to a coral dominated environment are still poorly understood.

The key drivers of coral decline need to be addressed, however active management options offer potential avenues for increasing reef resilience. Macroalgal removal is one such reef recovery method. By increasing space for growth of existing coral colonies and enhancing available space to facilitate coral recruitment, removal of macroalgae has been proposed as one effective local-scale measure to promote reef recovery. Nevertheless, like other active interventions it has been controversial. Advocates of active algal removal argue that the continuing degradation of coral reefs is evidence enough for the failure of current passive management actions. The negative effects of macroalgae on corals have been documented and include shading, physical and chemical recruitment inhibition, and abrasion. The removal of macroalgae has been promoted as reducing these negative impacts on corals. Critics of algal removal argue that intervention can harm reef systems both directly, through physical damage caused by the act of removal, and indirectly, through the potential negative impacts on associated fish and invertebrate species. Indeed, in moderate abundances macroalgae are part of healthy ecosystem function, providing food and shelter for a number of species. This debate highlights that a more comprehensive understanding of the positive and negative effects of macroalgal removal is needed to assess its effectiveness. The impacts of macroalgal removal at Magnetic Island have not been assessed, and this work aims to fill critical knowledge gaps which will further the ability of managers to make decisions regarding these active reef interventions.

The Research Aims

This project has three themed objectives:

1. To test and develop best practices for macroalgae removal on the Great Barrier Reef.

2. To elucidate the effects of macroalgae removal on corals by assessing changes in coral and algal cover, photobiology and coral recruitment success.

3. To elucidate the effects of macroalgae removal on the abundance and diversity of other reef organisms (i.e. fish and other reef invertebrates).

Considering the increasing incidence of macroalgae on coral reefs due to anthropogenic factors, management strategies based on outcomes from this study will be applicable to reef management agencies worldwide.

How You'll Help

Participants will assist scientists in a number of activities throughout the project and activities can be conducted on snorkel or scuba (or a mix of both) depending on the tide height and participant skills.

Planned activities include:

• Establishing replicate quadrats (5X5m) in representative bays around Magnetic Island. This will require fixing star pickets in the hard substrate at sites, marking the sites with underwater buoys and ensuring accurate GPS coordinates and physical maps of the area and plots within the areas.

• Assess the baseline information of abundance of coral, macroalgae, fish and other species within all plots prior to removal of algae.

• Removal of macroalgae from the bottom reef substrate in replicate 5X5m quadrat plots.

• In situ algal height will also be recorded prior to algal removal, and continue in order to evaluate re-growth in treatment plots.

• The whole 5x5m area will be photographed in 1x1m subsections and coral and algal cover will be estimated and monitored for change over the course of the project (for both control and algae removed plots).

• The photobiology of the dominant species of coral colonies will be assessed in each quadrat at each survey time using a diving pulse amplitude fluorometer (PAM).

• Stationary point counts will be conducted to estimate fish diversity and abundance. For each survey the number, species and size of fish observed over 15 minutes will be recorded.

• ‘Cryptic crawls’ will also be conducted in each plot. Swimming close to the bottom in a grid-like pattern the number, species and size of cryptic and nocturnal species will be recorded. All underwater photo and video recording of benthic and fish assemblages both pre-and post-macroalgae removal are important activities which will require assistance.

*Please keep in mind that activities may need to be adjusted depending on weather conditions.

The Agenda


This expedition is conducted at the picturesque Magnetic Island near Townsville in Queensland, Australia. Magnetic Island is approximately 12 kilometers offshore from the city of Townsville and accessed via a regular passenger and vehicle ferry. The team will stay in Picnic Bay for ease of access to the research sites around the island including Arthur Bay, and Florence Bay. Before the start of each day’s diving activities a toolbox session’ will be undertaken, to fully explain the aims of the snorkeling and diving activities and how the daily tasks will be performed and achieved. This will include assigning snorkel/dive buddies, work tasks both above and below the water and the expected outcomes.

Hazards and Risks

Any potential hazards or dangers will be discussed especially in relation to updated weather conditions. All participants and project staff will wear full wetsuits, dive booties, fins, snorkel and masks. There will be sun exposure risks for all participants whilst in the field, and many visitors underestimate the strength of the Australian sunshine. High factored waterproof sun block should be worn on exposed areas, and hats should be worn while working outside and above water. During each evening a summary of activities from that day will be undertaken and any problems or issues raised and discussed.

On the first day an overview of the project will be given, providing a brief summary of the goals of the project highlighting the benefits this research can bring to the coral ecology field. Participants do not need any prior training in research methodologies. All methods, tasks and use of equipment will be outlined and demonstrated at the beginning of the project.

Select the ‘Potential Hazards’ page for additional information. [INSERT QUICK-LINK TO POTENTIAL HAZARDS PAGE]

Transport and Diving Policy

To comply with COVID Safe planning, participants must get themselves to the start of the expedition on Magnetic Island. This will entail driving yourself via the ferry (visit the Magnetic Island Ferries website) to Magnetic Island, or taking a taxi to the ferry terminal and walking on the ferry as a foot passenger (visit the Sealink Queensland Ferry website). Earthwatch will be in touch with you to advise of your rendezvous location on Magnetic Island. If participants have driven themselves to the project, they may not drive whilst on the project. Participants who ignore this policy and do drive or ride in another participant’s vehicle during the project will be doing so at their own risk and will not be covered under the Earthwatch or James Cook University insurance policy for the expedition.

Safety Briefing

Earthwatch expeditions are conducted in accordance with Queensland Government’s COVID Safe Industry Plans, and we have measures in place for the management of activities and participants under COVID-19. All COVID-19 safety measures will be given in a team briefing at the start of the expedition.

Once participants have settled into the accommodation on Magnetic Island, a further project and safety briefing will be conducted in the common room at the accommodation. This briefing will specifically highlight any safety issues on the Island and sort out basic operating procedures including timetables for cooking, cleaning and planned field activities.

General Snorkel and Dive Procedures

Snorkelling and diving on this expedition carries an inherent risk. Safety procedures are established to minimise these risks and should be adhered to closely. Minimum levels of competence are required for both snorkellers and divers (refer to Eligibility Requirements page [QUICK-LINK HERE] for more information) and only participants who meet the minimum health, proficiency and (for divers) qualification set will be able to participate in these activities. In line with these minimum proficiency standards, the research team relies on all scuba divers and snorkellers to be responsible for their own safety and aid others in case of an emergency.

James Cook University and the research team leading the field activities have the right to exclude anyone from participating in snorkel and dive activities if they fail their checkout snorkel or dive, snorkel or dive unsafely, or place themselves or others in a situation of undue risk.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival/Travel Day

12:00 p.m.
• Meet expedition team in Townsville.

12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
• travel to Magnetic Island
• settle in accommodation
• safety briefing and orientation.

• Organization of research equipment and dive/snorkel gear.

Late afternoon
• Preliminary dive/snorkel to assess ability of all participants—area near the accommodation.

6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
• Dinner.

Days 2 to 4: Fieldwork Days

7:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.
• Breakfast.

8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.
• morning brief on activities for the day
• outline the aims for the field–based activities for that day
• prepare all equipment and supplies and load the boats in preparation for leaving.

9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
• Travel to the site for that day.

9:30 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.
• Undertake the day’s field activities—usually includes 2 x 90 minute snorkels/dives with more than 1-hour surface interval.
• Lunch taken between dives.

4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
• Return to accommodation
• Wash all gear, clean required equipment and fill scuba tanks for the next day

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
• Free time for showers and personal activities. 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
• Dinnertime

7:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
• Summary of the day’s activities plus a scientific talk on relevant marine topics.

Day 5: Departure/Travel Day
• morning Breakfast, pack and tidy up
• Depart Magnetic Island and return to Townsville.
Food and Accommodation
Participants will stay at a beachfront holiday home in Magnetic Island. Participants will have access to the kitchen and recreational facilities offered there (e.g. swimming pool).

Sleeping Arrangements
Rooms are shared; gender segregated. To comply with COVID Safe regulations, any shared room will have beds spaced 2m apart. Those requesting a single room can do so at no extra cost, however the location may vary based on demand. Couple room requests can be accommodated depending on the available space at the holiday home.
Each room is equipped with a ceiling fan, air conditioner, and has screened windows. Bed linen (flat and fitted sheet, pillow and pillowcase are provided). Participants on Team 2 (July) may encounter cooler overnight temperatures, and so a blanket/ sleeping bag (appropriate for the temperatures encountered) may be required depending on how cool you feel at night.

There are 4 bathrooms throughout the house. These shared facilities offer hot water showers and toilets. Participants may wish to bring a pair of sandals for the shower.

There is 24-hour electricity and all rooms are equipped with working power sockets. Participants are asked to conserve energy wherever possible to help conserve power consumption. Additionally, due to changes in load demand, this may result in low level surges in the power supply. It is recommended that if visitors are using sensitive electronic equipment to bring surge protection boards.

Personal Communications
There is no Wi-Fi at the accommodation, neither desktop internet nor computers so participants will have to bring their own laptop and Wi-Fi dongles should they wish or need to use the internet during the expedition. Mobile phone reception is widely available on Magnetic Island. Telstra Mobile tends to have the best coverage in Australia. Communication between teams of participants on-site will be via VHF radio.

Magnetic Island is home to ~3000 people, and so the island has shops and amenities available to participants however not all accommodation options are within walking distance of these facilities. In addition, variety and supply may be limited, so participants who require any specialty items (dietary, personal), are recommended to bring them and not expect that they will be available on the island.

Distance to the Field Site
Participants will be transported to the field locations, and the furthest distance between sites is ~8 km by land. All sites are within the bays of Magnetic Island and so accessible from shore. A boat will provide support for in water activities, though this will depend on what activities are planned for the day/season.

Earthwatch will provide all food during your stay at the research site. Participants and staff will be responsible for making their own continental breakfasts in the morning.
Lunch will be had in the field, and participants and project staff will be expected to make their own sandwiches in the morning before departing. Fruit and snack foods (e.g., muesli bars) will be available to pack as well.
Dinner will be a cooked meal and all participants will be expected to participate in the preparation of meals according to a roster. Be prepared to have a little fun with this! The Principal Investigator organizes a friendly “master chef” style competition from the cooking roster, and many participants enjoy this wholeheartedly. Evening meals will be hearty and comprise meats, vegetables, pasta, rice etc. BBQs will be planned but will be dependent on the weather. There will also be one night out at the Arcadia Bay pub for dinner, where meal costs will be covered but any alcoholic beverages will be at participants own cost. 
Housekeeping will be shared, with small teams assigned to duties each day. Tasks may include washing and drying dishes, sweeping the kitchen floor, wiping benches, cleaning the bathroom, packing away chairs and tables after meals etc. A roster with full tasks will be established on the first day of the project.
Fresh drinking water will always be available at the accommodation quarters. Magnetic Island is supplied with treated potable town water and is suitable for drinking without treatment. Water should not be wasted however as the Island is in the dry tropics. Tea and coffee will also be readily available at the accommodation.
The following are examples of foods you may find in the field. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.

Typical Meals
Breakfast: Cereal, toast and spreads.
Lunch: Sandwich meats, spreads and salads, cheese, fresh fruit, muesli bars.
Dinner: Pasta, curries, stir-fry, BBQ meat and salads, sauces, etc.
Snacks: Crackers, fruits, sweet biscuits, muesli bars.
Beverages: Coffee, tea, milk, fruit juices / cordial, water.

Special Dietary Requirements Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut or other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) immediately, and note them in the space provided on your participant forms. Accommodating special diets is not guaranteed and can be very difficult due to availability of food, location of field sites, and other local conditions.

Project Site/Conditions

The climate at Magnetic Island is tropical, with the summer (November to April) hot and humid with temperatures in the high 20sº C (mid 80sº F). The rainy months are from December to March with an average annual rainfall of 1200mm (3.9 ft.). Summer winds are variable, with extended calm periods. Cyclones developing in the Coral Sea (November to May) may produce strong winds and heavy rains, but rarely threaten the island. Southeast trade winds dominate the cool, sunny, dry season from June to November. During this period daily temperatures may be variable and a range of attire is recommended with overnight temperatures dropping to 20º Celsius.

Water temperatures range from 25 to 27º Celsius (82 to 86º Fahrenheit) in summer and can drop as low as 23ºCelsius (75º Fahrenheit) in winter. Please note: these provided climate condition predictions are general in nature and teams have experienced unseasonable weather at all times of year

Eligibility Requirements
Physical Demands
The project can be very physically demanding. You will be working on water with strong currents and sea swell. Those who are prone to seasickness should bring preventative treatments with them.
Expected Demands of the Project
Please keep in mind that conditions may change and the project could potentially be more or less strenuous than these points indicate.
All participants must be able to:
• Follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently or with the assistance of a companion.
• Enjoy being outdoors all day in all types of weather, in the potential presence of wild animals and insects.
• Swim, snorkel or dive twice a day for 90 minutes at a time.
• Sit for 2–3 hours per day (travel via vehicle or boat, evening lectures).
• Walk some distance over rough terrain (up to 1 km) to access research sites (the bays may be away from the roads).
• Carry their own snorkel or dive equipment to and from the boat and/or shore and may be asked to help carry research equipment. The distance differs according to the tide level and boat support for the activities, and it may be in shallow water (up to 50 cm).
• Be active, including regular bending and lifting, when doing field work and cleaning field gear.
• Work on a boat for 4–6 hours a day. Travel to some research sites may be via boat and take no longer than 30 minutes. At least one hour surface time will be spent between dives, either on the boat or on shore, depending on weather conditions.
• Adhere to the briefing guidelines, be aware of their limitations and apply common sense while participating.
Boating Requirements
In order to assist on the research boat, you will need to be relatively fit and agile. Although research boats may have a canopy for shading, sun protection is required for the one-hour surface interval and other field activities. Depending on winds, the trip may be bumpy and participants may feel cold on the return trip after being in the water all day. An all-weather proof or windbreaker jacket is advisable.
Medical Fitness
All participants must be in good physical condition. Individuals with any medical condition that may impact on their safety in the water will be required to provide a medical clearance from their doctor dated within 12 months of the start date of the project stating they are fit to conduct the tasks outlined in this briefing. Certified divers are required to provide their most recent dive medical provided it was undertaken less than 12 months prior to the start date of the expedition.
Snorkelers should have more than 10 hours snorkelling experience in open water and be able to demonstrate basic snorkel skills including correct mask clearing, ear equalisation and duck diving . Snorkelers should be comfortable swimming in the open ocean with swells and strong currents, able to swim or tread water for 10 minutes continuously and swim at least 200m (650ft) unaided . Snorkelers must be able to demonstrate full control over their breathing at all times.
Scuba Diving
To dive on this expedition participants will need to meet the requirements to join the James Cook University Dive Register. At a minimum you will need to hold a Divemaster or Australian Occupational/AQF Rescue Dive Certification as well as other relevant certifications, medical clearance and demonstrable experience (see list below).
Divers will need to provide all relevant documentation and have this validated by the James Cook University team via upload to the register prior to joining the expedition. All divers must ensure they meet, understand and adhere to all safety procedures, environmental rules and regulations, and safe diving limits.
Dive Medicals
All divers must hold a current Occupational Dive Medical provided by a certified South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (SPUMS) Dive Examiner or equivalent from Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) certified doctors. This dive medical must state it is conducted to the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2299.1:2015 and have been undertaken less than 12 months prior to the start of the expedition. If you are unable to see a SPUMS or UHMS registered doctor before your arrival in Australa, you in need to organise an appointment in Australia prior to joining the expedition. This medical should be booked well in advance and you will need to arrive in Australia at least one day early to complete this assessment. You will be required to have a chest x-ray and you will need to bring your x-ray and x-ray report (in English) with you. The full cost of the dive medical will vary between doctors and you will need to pay in full on the day of medical assessment.
You can find a doctor able to provide Occupation Dive Medicals via the SPUMS Diving Doctors List at (select “yes” under OCC Diving).
Dive Logs
You will be required to provide a copy of your Dive Log Book, with dives countersigned, validating a minimum experience of 40+hrs underwater excluding training dives. You must have logged at least one dive in the last six months prior to the start date of the project and in water similar to those of the planned dive (e.g. temperature).
Dive Insurance
Hold dive insurance, which provides emergency evacuation service as well as accident treatment cover. DAN dive insurance or equivalent (stating what type of coverage is provided eg. Standard, Preferred or Master). See php. *note: holding a DAN membership does not mean that you have a DAN insurance policy, you must have membership however to purchase insurance.
Dive Gear
If you intend to use your own scuba diving equipment, it must have been serviced within 12 months prior to diving and will be inspected by the James Cook University Dive Supervisor prior to diving. Evidence to show that the equipment test is current (i.e. service record from the service shop) will be required. For further information on the expeditions dive requirements, please contact the Earthwatch Australia Office: +61 (0) 3 9016 7590 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Health and Safety
Emergencies in the Field
The Day 1 trip safety briefing will detail the expedition process to manage emergencies in the field. There is an ambulance (paramedic) service service on Magnetic Island, in addition to a medical centre and pharmacy within 25 minutes drive of all activities. A hospital is located in Townsville, approximately 40 minutes away via public ferry (boat). For serious injuries we will be guided by the advice of the ambulance service.
For emergency assistance in the field, please contact Earthwatch’s 24-hour emergency hotline number here: +61 (0) 3 8508 5537
Earthwatch is available to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week; someone is always on call to respond to messages that come into our live answering service.
Proximity to Medical Care:
Travel time from project -
15 km/40 minutes by boat and ambulance
Physician, Nurse, or EMT on staff:
Project staff are not medical professionals.
Staff Certified In Safety Training:
All James Cook University team members are qualified in CPR and hold a First Aid / oxygen provider certificate. All Earthwatch Team Leaders are qualified in CPR and hold a First Aid certificate.
Nearest Medical Treatment:
Magnetic Island Health Service Centre

76 Sooning Street, Nelly Bay Magnetic Island, Queensland 4819 Ph: +61 (07) 4778 5107
• offers nurse-led clinics
• located in Nelly Bay near the project site.
Latitude 19 Health
68 Sooning Street, Nelly Bay Magnetic Island, Queensland 4819 Ph: +61 (07) 4778 5614 THE
Townsville Hospital
100 Angus Smith Drive, Douglas, Queensland 4814 Ph: (07) 4433 1111 (within Australia) or +61 (07) 4433 1111 (International)
• Mailing Address: P.O. Box 670, Townsville QLD 4810
Routine Immunisations
We recommend all volunteers have the following up-to-date immunisations: DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus or tetanus booster if required), polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and varicella (if you have not already had chicken pox).
COVID-19 vaccinations:
All participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in line with Australian Government Regulations or medically exempt. All participants will be required to verify their status.
Medical Conditions of Special Concern
Hydrophobia, discomfort in or around boats; uncontrolled inner ear infections, conditions that reduce or limit your ability to equalize pressure in one’s ears; conditions that affect balance, blood clotting issues and/or any condition that interferes with or limits a participants’ swimming or breathing should be considered carefully. If you are pregnant, you should inform your doctor prior to diving. If you suffer from motion or seasickness and intend to treat this with either over-the-counter or prescribed medication, please discuss the use and side effects with your doctor.
Any prescription medication brought into Australia needs to be accompanied with a letter from your doctor for Customs Inspection purposes.
Travel Planning
Rendezvous Location
C Bar, The Strand (corner of Gregory Street), Townsville, Queensland 4810
Additional information will be provided by Earthwatch to meet your team. Please do not book travel arrangements such as flights until you have received additional information from Earthwatch.
Your Destination
Earthwatch strongly recommends that travellers investigate their destination prior to departure. Familiarity with the destination’s entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, and customs can go a long way to ensure smooth travel.
The Australian Government Smart Traveller website is an excellent resource for regularly updated travel information around Australia. For LGBTI travelerstravellers, the Smart Traveller LGBTI page contains many useful tips and links. Please also visit the Smart Traveller COVID-19 travel advice page here.
Country and Project Entry Requirements
Entry visa requirements differ by country of origin, layover, and destination, and do change unexpectedly. For this reason, please confirm your visa requirements at the time of booking and, again, 90 days prior to travel. Please apply early for your visa (we recommend starting 6 months prior to the start of your expedition). Refunds will not be made for participants cancelling due to not obtaining their visa in time to meet the team at the rendezvous. You can find up to date visa requirements via the following site:
If a visa is required, participants should apply for a TOURIST visa. In most cases, this can be done online through Australia’s Electronic Travel Authority – for more information, click here. Generally, passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry and a return ticket is required
Contact Information
You may be required to list the following contact information on your visa application and immigration form, or if your luggage does not make it to baggage claim at your destination:
Elizabeth Irvine
Program Operations Manager
Suite G-06, 60 Leicester St
Carlton VIC 3053 Australia
Ph: +61 (03) 9016 7590
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.