Endangered Australia: Wildlife and Culture

July 25 - August 7, 2024

$3,865 per person double occupancy, $4,575 for single occupancy

If you love the outdoors, wildlife, and adventure - this is the trip for you. This cultural-immersion trip ‘down-under’ focuses on wildlife conservation and Aboriginal culture in some of the best places Australia has to offer! Join us on a ‘off-the-beaten-path’ expedition that includes hands-on activities with native Australian wildlife conservation groups, Aboriginal cultural experiences, and ample time to explore this amazing country on your own. This is an experience designed for individuals of all ages and abilities.  

Our journey begins in the ecologically and culturally diverse state of New South Wales.  A two-day volunteering experience at the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park, a unique animal sanctuary that combines wildlife conservation with Aboriginal traditions will highlight the tour of this region.  We will also experience a Dreamwalk with Djiribi Waagura Aboriginal elders in the Shoalhaven and explore the white sand beaches of Jervis Bay during this part of the trip. The second half of our adventure brings us to the city of Cairns, known as “the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef” in tropical north Queensland. A full-day will be spent on the Great Barrier Reef with marine biologists and Aboriginal Rangers to provide us with a unique education on the status of one of the worlds’ quickly diminishing natural wonders.  Our journey will conclude with two days on the tropical, rainforest-covered National Park of Fitzroy Island.  This pristine island sits on the outer boundary of the Great Barrier Reef and will provide ample opportunity to experience wildlife and activities both in and out of the water.  

The course fee for this trip will cover all standard (double occupancy) lodging, ground transportation, ferries, round trip flight from Sydney to Cairns, full-day dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Dreamwalk with Djiribi Waagura Aboriginal leaders, Hartley’s Croc Farm entry, snorkeling gear on Fitzroy Island, a 2-day 2-night all inclusive stay at the Australian Walkabout Park, and four group dinners.



$3,865 per person double occupancy, $4,575 single occupancy. Begin your registration

March 4, 2024: $1,000 non-refundable deposit for all trips due. In the event that the trip does not meet its minimum number of travelers, deposits will be refunded.

April 29, 2024: Final payment due


Information Sessions

Learn more about the trip by joining a virtual information session. Join the meeting via Zoom

  • Mon. Dec. 4, 6:00pm
  • Fri. Jan. 19, 6:00pm
  • Fri. Feb. 9, 6:00pm
  • Fri. Feb. 23, 6:00pm
  • Fri. March 1, 6:00 pm


About the trip

students on a boat in Australia

Australia 2024

This adventure is designed for participants of all ages and abilities, and would be a great trip for families. All activities are optional and can be experienced at your own comfort level. Join us on a ‘off-the-beaten-path’ expedition that includes hands-on activities!



Location (overnight)


July 25

Day 1  

Meet at Bulli Beach Holiday Park


Bulli Beach Holiday Park - Bulli, NSW

  • Arrival day!  
  • Group check-in.
  • Beach activities, local dinner

July 26

Day 2 

Bulli Beach Holiday Park - Bulli, NSW

  • A day to acclimate and explore the area. 
  • We will take a hike up the Sublime Point Track in Austimer or to Brokers Nose in Corrimal
  • Free time activities (explore tide pools, beach walk, surf/swim)
  • Group dinner #1 at Bulli-Woonona RSL Club.

July 27-28

Days 3-4 

Twin Falls Bush Cottages - Fitzroy Falls, NSW

  • After breakfast we will drive to Fitzroy Falls. (~2 hours) and check-in at Twin Falls Bush Cottages
  • Service activity with Wombat Care Bundanoon and/or Native Wildlife Rescue.
  • Group dinner #2 on day 4 - Bundanoon Pub

July 29

Day 5

Dungowan Waterfront Accommodation - Erowal Bay, NSW

  • After breakfast drive to Erowal Bay (2 hours).
  • A stop at Bendalong Beach to feed the giant stingrays.
  • Free time - afternoon/evening (water activities, beach walk)
  • In-cabin/beach dinner at Dungowan Waterfront Resort.

July 30

Day 6

Dungowan Waterfront Accommodation - Erowal Bay, NSW

  • After breakfast we will experience a Dreamwalk with the Djiribi Waagura Aboriginal leaders in Nowra.
  • After the walk we will visit Murray’s Beach (the whitest sand on the planet!)
  • Do a little shopping and lunch in Huskisson
  • Free time - afternoon/evening (water activities, beach walk)
  • Dinner on the beach/cabins at Dungowan

July 31 - Aug 1

Days 7-8

Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park - 

Calga NSW 

  • After an early departure from Erowal Bay, we will drive to the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park (4 hours)
  • We are spending two days volunteering as park rangers and working with wildlife conservationists and Aboriginal leaders.  
  • The Park staff arrange our itinerary - they keep us quite busy doing incredible activities!
  • This is an all inclusive (food and lodging) stay. 
  • Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park  

Aug 2

Day 9

Reef Gateway - Cairns, QLD

  • Travel Day
  • Early departure to SYD airport for flight from Sydney to Cairns
  • Group Dinner #3

Aug 3

Day 10

Reef Gateway - Cairns, QLD

  • EARLY departure (6:30am) for full-day on the Great Barrier Reef!
  • Dreamtime Dive experience 
  • Scuba dive and/or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef with Marine Biologists and Aboriginal Rangers. This is a seriously awesome day!!  
  • Free time - evening (Cairns night markets, shopping, beach walk)

Aug 4

Day 11

Reef Gateway - Cairns, QLD

  • After breakfast - Visit Hartley’s Croc Farm
  • We will take a waterfall hike before entering the park in the Daintree Rainforest
  • *Alternate option: White Water Rafting in Daintree Rainforest*
  • Free time - evening (Cairns night markets, shopping, beach walk)

Aug 5

Day 12

Fitzroy Island, QLD

  • After breakfast, catch early ferry (8:00am) to Fitzroy Island
  • Service activity with Save Our Sea Turtles
  • Free time in the afternoon/evening (snorkel, kayak, SUP, hike, etc.)

Aug 6

Day 13

Fitzroy Island, QLD

  • Service activity with Reef Restoration Foundation
  • Free time in the afternoon (snorkel, kayak, SUP, hike, etc.)
  • Group dinner #4 and TRIP-TRIVIA (with prizes!)

Aug 7

Day 14

SYD - Sydney, NSW

  • Travel Day
  • Take the early Ferry (9:00am) to Cairns.
  • Final chance to shop for souvenirs in Cairns CBD
  • Afternoon flight to Sydney.
Derek Marks

Meet your Professor: Derek Marks

I have been a faculty member in the Kinesiology Department at Saint Mary’s since 2006. My wildlife and ecological conservation background are rooted in over 30 years of volunteer work and about 15 years of leading group travel adventures that provide the opportunity to explore and gain an appreciation of our role in helping preserve and appreciate the natural resources we have in our own backyard and abroad.

My original interest in Australian wildlife conservation and indigenous culture developed while I lived there between 2013 and 2016. Since then, I have brought six Saint Mary’s JanTerm courses and one Alumni group there in order to share and further develop an appreciation for this unique land, its wildlife, and culture. I am always humbled and honored to be welcomed to Australia and work with the incredible people and animals that we encounter. I am also ecstatic about being able to share this special place and experience with the SMC community.