Small World Journeys: More than just sightseeing

International students on a Small World Journeys coral tour.

Previously working in the US travel industry, Laurie Pritchard spotted northern Australia as an ideal place to set up her own edu-tourism business—Small World Journeys.

Cairns was an obvious choice for Laurie—she saw the area as a “paradise” with its pristine natural assets and rich Indigenous culture.

“The Cairns region and surrounds have so much to offer visitors—the climate is amazing and there is so much natural beauty and endemic flora and fauna,” she says.

“Go west and you find the outback, red dirt, kangaroos and cattle stations. Go north and you’re in untouched tropical rainforest. Or go east and you’re out in clear waters on the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. There is so much diversity within a short radius of Cairns.”

The Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme has provided business advice to Small World Journeys through the Northern Australia Tourism Initiative, which Laurie says has opened doors and helped her company’s long-term business development.

As the 2017 Cairns Small Business Woman of the Year and a state finalist in the Institute of Managers and Leaders Owner/Entrepreneur category, Laurie recognises the strong potential for tourism across northern Australia.

She says Cairns is a tourism driven town that makes the most of its natural advantages and values the flow-on benefits of year round visitors.

Small World Journeys, which Laurie established in 2008, sets itself apart from other tour companies by offering educational experiences for high school and university students that combine fun and adventure with learning.

“Our company tailors every tour to match the needs of the curriculum and specific educational requirements of each group. There are other tours out there but ours is the only one that I know, that has the learning and new knowledge of participants at its heart,” Laurie says. “It is more than just sightseeing with us.”

The company’s tours focus on Aboriginal culture and the natural sciences and include coral reef, marine, biology, community service and sustainability studies.

The company has strong partnerships with local suppliers such as two Aboriginal brothers who have a tour business sharing their culture and showing students how to catch seafood the traditional way. It engages researchers, wildlife experts, farmers and scientists, all with local knowledge and expertise.

“There are a lot of grass roots tourism ventures up here and people are really connected to land and country,” Laurie says.

Read more on the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and on Small World Journeys at

Image: International students on a Small World Journeys coral tour.

Published: 16 October 2017