On Assignment Projects
Meet Your Expert
With roughly the population of metropolitan New York City and the landmass of the continental United States, Australia is the most sparsely populated continent on the planet after Antarctica. Its isolation for millennia allowed unique ecosystems and cultures to thrive. Explore rain forests, deserts, and the world’s largest coral reef, observing and documenting fascinating wildlife along the way. Meet members of the Aboriginal community— the world’s oldest living culture—which settled here more than 50,000 years ago. Experience Australia through the lens of your On Assignment project: Photography or Wildlife & Biodiversity.
The expedition begins with an orientation in the vibrant coastal city of Sydney. Break into teams to begin working on your On Assignment project. Browse a photo exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales, explore the lively Rocks district, and take in spectacular views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Attend a game of rugby or Australian rules football, or go surfing at Manly Beach. Meet your first koalas and kangaroos at the famous Taronga Zoo, or visit the Sydney Aquarium to get acquainted with the marine life you will encounter on the Great Barrier Reef.
Uluru and the Outback
Fly from Sydney to Alice Springs and begin your journey through the Outback towards the largest monolith on Earth, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock). Steeped in mythology, this colossal piece of sandstone rises abruptly from the desert plain. Trek between the giant rounded domes of the adjacent Kata Tjuta on the lookout for bright green ring-necked parrots. Visit an Aboriginal community at Wallace Rockhole for a guided tour through ancestral lands, and learn about the traditional craft of dot painting before trying your hand at the art form. Plunge into the cool and refreshing waters of the Ellery Big Hole, examine ancient rock art and medicinal plants, and listen to Dreamtime stories told by our Aboriginal guides. Through the lens of your camera, use the barren landscape to practice working with depth of field, and spotting dingoes, red kangaroos, and majestic wedge- tailed eagles that inhabit this otherwise still scene. Set up camp in the bush, help collect firewood and prepare dinner, and sleep under the stars. Spot the Southern Cross and Scorpio, and learn a whole new set of Southern Hemisphere constellations.
Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef
I loved visiting such a wide variety of environments—from the outback to Sydney to the reef to the rain forest— and had such unique experiences in each one.
Fly to the northern Queensland city of Cairns, and transfer to Port Douglas, our hub for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Set out on a private boat for a two-day snorkeling adventure with marine biologists. Anchor at the outer reef and snorkel along brilliant fields of coral. Spot sea turtles, giant parrotfish, harmless reef sharks, and maybe even a migrating humpback whale. Gain insights about the reef from the marine biologists on board, and learn about the threats to this unique ecosystem and the efforts being made to protect it.
Back on land, head north into the 125 million-year-old Daintree Rainforest. Hike through the lush vegetation to see cassowaries, crocodiles, tree kangaroos, and other endemic wildlife. Spend the night in a jungle lodge and encounter the native species of the surrounding rain forest, wetlands, and reef.
Wind down on the coastal side of the park on the white-sand beaches of Cape Tribulation. Explore a mangrove habitat where the jungle meets the ocean and kayak along the reef. Trek out to the farthest point of the cape in search of whales and other marine life passing by. Return to Cairns for the final night and present your On Assignment project to the rest of the group. Celebrate your adventure with your fellow participants before flying home.
In Sydney, Alice Springs, and Queensland, we stay in small hotels. In Daintree Rainforest, we stay in a small, family-run eco-resort, and in the outback we camp under the stars.