We’re currently giving talks about our work and how you can get involved! Interested? Click here for more details.

  • Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

Options include:

2 week dates available:

  • 18 September 2022 – 1 October 2022
  • 25 September 2022 – 8 October 2022

Koombooloomba National Park & Mission Beach Wildlife Field Course Experience

The first week of this course is based in the Koombooloomba National Park, a protected area within the Wet Tropicsglobal biodiversity hotspot in the Atherton Tablelands of Queensland Australia.. The unique site comprises part of the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and straddles a matrix of habitats including dry forest, upland rainforest and the endangered wet sclerophyll forest. The region is home to many threatened and endangered species such as Herbert river ring tailed possums, yellow-bellied gliders, red goshawks and golden bowerbirds.

This part of the course presents a unique opportunity for participants to gain practical conservation experience and knowledge of relevance to a range of Australian ATAR subjects and undergraduate majors. This will enhance students’ academic potential and provide greater opportunities to pursue successful careers in conservation both in Australia and overseas.

The second week of this course is based in Mission Beach, Queensland where participants will have the chance to complete their PADI OW dive qualification or snorkel in the beautiful setting of the Great Barrier Reef and attend a reef ecology and conservation lecture series with a specific focus on local reef biology and threats.

Koombooloomba National Park Field Course Objectives (2 week)

The activities in this course reflect, reinforce and complement Australian Curriculum materials at Years 11 and 12 in Biology, Environmental Science and Geography through the inclusion of material relating to biodiversity, heredity, resource management, environmental hazards, sustainability and land cover change.. Specifically, the course supplements units relating to biodiversity and heredity in Biology, resource management and hazards in Environmental Science and

The activities in this course are designed to complement Year 11 and Year 12 Australian Curriculum content relating to Biology (biodiversity, heredity), Environmental Science (resource management, environmental hazards) and Geography (ecological hazards, sustainable places and land cover change). The role and importance of Indigenous environmental knowledge is prioritized in all of these activities. Furthermore, students gain practical experience of scientific enquiry skills identified in the National Curriculum involving designing, implementing and reporting on scientific research. The course can be tailored to reflect undergraduate level studies in majors including biology, marine science, geography, environmental science and natural resource management, whilst students are also able to participate in lectures and exercises relating to career development. The course therefore offers Australian school and university students the opportunity to practice essential academic skills, gain field-based experience and enhance their career prospects through individual and small group supervised activities.

The first week of the course is split into three parts:

  1. Learning Ecology Survey Techniques

Approximately half of the time will be spent in the field working with experienced field naturalists and learning the following techniques:

  • Quadrat surveys for analysing vegetation community structure
  • Survey techniques for quantifying carbon in the forest
  • Camera trapping for mammals
  • Standardised bird point counts and transects
  • Soundscape analysis surveys for bats
  • Spotlight surveys for amphibians

These activities reflect the national curriculum focus on developing scientific enquiry skills at ATAR level whilst also enabling undergraduate students to bolster their knowledge of field-based survey techniques.

  1. Developing skills in research methods and scientific reporting

Students will work together in small groups (2 -3 students) on one of the following data sets: reef fish communities, coral reef structure, cloud forest bird communities, spider monkey behaviour or large mammal distribution in a South African reserve. Over the week the objective will be for the group to write up a paper answering a research question they have devised based on the data sets. Each group will present their final paper by the end of the course.

This enables students to gain in-depth knowledge of topics at ATAR and undergraduate level in Biology, Environmental Science and Geography, whilst also developing essential skills in quantitative data analysis and reporting. Through supervised small group work, students will develop their capacity to work effective within a team and practice essential presentation skills.

  1. Conservation priorities in Australia and career development

A series of interactive presentations from academics and professionals will be held in the evening. These will focus on specific issues of relevance to conservation in Australia, including bushfire management, carbon and biodiversity offsetting, invasive species control, Indigenous environmental knowledge and marine habitat restoration. The evening lectures will also provide advice and guidance on how to develop careers in environmental conservation in Australia and overseas.

The objective of the second week is for participants to complete their PADI OW qualification in one of the most famous and spectacular reef ecosystems in the world, or snorkel and develop an understanding of marine survey techniques. In the evenings, a series of reef ecology and conservation lectures will be held which introduce a number of relevant issues associated with marine resource management in the Australian context, as well as additional talks from local indigenous groups and farmers about how they are adapting to climate change.

  • In-depth experience and knowledge of key topics at ATAR level in biology, environmental science and geography
  • Learn survey methods including camera trapping for large mammals, bird point counts, carbon content calculations, soundscape analysis for bats and spotlighting for herpetofauna
  • Practice essential skills relating to scientific reporting
  • Appreciate the importance of Indigenous environmental knowledge and culture in Australian conservation
  • Complete your PADI Open Water dive qualification
  • Learn first-hand about the most pressing issues in Australian conservation in both terrestrial and marine environments
  • Gain essential guidance in developing your career skills
  • Opwall fee
  • Cost of flights to Cairns airport
  • Cost of transfers between Cairns airport and the terrestrial field site, transfers between the terrestrial site and marine site, and transfers from the marine site to Cairns airport. This costs approximately USD200 (AUD275) per person.
  • Dive equipment hire


Average temperatures in Koombooloomba range from 20.5°C – 29°C. Rainfall is relatively low but night time temperatures can get down to 13°C so warm clothes will be needed for camping. The climate at Mission Beach is similar although water temperatures for diving are quite cool (between 23 and 26) so please take note of the wetsuit recommendations as part of the kit list.

Fitness Level Required

Moderate. At the terrestrial site, routes and transects aren’t very long but this is an active course where you can expect to be on your feet every day and walking reasonable distances. Terrain is rough and hilly in places. At the marine site, fitness requirement is low although to complete the PADI OW qualification you must be able to swim.

Creature Comforts

Facilities are relatively basic. Students sleep in tents at this site and temporary toilets and showers are also available on site. There is occasional phone signal.


  • Koombooloomba National Park, Queensland
  • Mission Beach, Queensland

Want to get involved with this project?


Want to get involved with this project?

   Latest from our blog

  • Field Notes Entry 20: Ellie Field

    Posted on 3rd December 2021
    Bio: Ellie Field is Opwall’s Rewilding Lead and International Sales Manager. She spent much of her time during the Covid-19 pandemic learning about efforts to improve agriculture in the UK and rejuvenate biodiversity. Ellie first joined Opwall as a volunteer in South...
  • A Word from our Founder

    Posted on 1st December 2021
    Dear alumni and supporters of Opwall, Thank you for continuing to support our work through this challenging year. 2021 has been a turning point for Operation Wallacea and the way we work on conservation challenges worldwide. While there have been difficult times,...
  • How do you get involved with conservation research?

    Posted on 1st December 2021
    Conservation research is an exciting and important career that can take you all over the world! In this article we’re going to discuss some of important steps on the path to getting involved with conservation research. Online training courses are a great...
Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
| +44 (0) 1790 763194 or +44 (0) 1522 405667 | info@opwall.com