Lest you think that cat pictures dominate the internet, this week the Queensland, Australia Instagram account is being managed by a dog. Jester is a six-month old Weimaraner from Hamilton island (close to the Great Barrier Reef), and he is kicking off a new campaign to show Queensland from a local’s perspective. Jester will be snapping photos until September 15, but you can also follow him @jestergull after his week is up. Each week the photo stream will be managed by a local in a different region, look out for photographer Nathan White on the Capricorn coast, and Moreton Island park ranger Keiran Lusk in the coming weeks.
Follow Jester and other Queenslanders on Instagram @Queensland.
This isn’t Queensland’s first creative way of reaching potential visitors — they held the famous Best Job in the World contest in 2009, now spun off into multiple jobs around Australia.
This past Sunday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) kicked off its annual conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Over the next ten days, the 1300 delegates in attendance will discuss which new locations from around the globe deserve possible inclusion on its exclusive list of World Heritage Sites. Some of the candidates include Japan’s Mt. Fuji, the Namib Desert in southern Africa and a series of wooden Orthodox churches located in the Carpathian mountains of Poland and the Ukraine.
Attendees at the conference will also consider adding the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Australia, to its list of endangered places. The organization routinely reviews the World Heritage Sites and will sometimes call attention to those that it sees as being under threat. This is done in an effort to raise awareness of the possible issues facing those place in the hopes that something will be done to preserve the site before it suffer irreparable damage. Studies have shown that tropical storms, climate change and increased shipping traffic have all had an impact on the health of the reef, bring its future into question. UNESCO is hoping that their discussion of those threats will send a message to Australians that they need to take action to preserve this amazing place.Having visited the GBR myself a few years back, I can tell you that it lives up to is reputation as a spectacular ocean setting. It is amongst the most beautiful places that I have ever seen and the snorkeling and scuba diving there are second to none. During my time there, it was clear that Australians understood that it is a very special place and that they are taking steps to ensure that it stays protected, healthy and vibrant for future generations to enjoy as well. That was something that was underscored in the recent “Reef Live” event, which took place in celebration of World Oceans Day. During that event, thousands of people from around the globe were able to catch a glimpse of the reef through a live tour that was broadcast over the Internet.
Immediately following “Reef Live,” Qantas Airlines announced discounted airfares to Queensland, making it more affordable than ever to head Down Under. Additionally, About Australia is offering some excellent discounted adventure travel package for those looking to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef region. For instance, they are currently offering a seven-day/five-night package that includes airfare from Lost Angles and accommodations at the Pacific International Hotel for just $2145/person. Amongst the included activities are a cruise on the GBR, snorkeling tours, a visit to the nearby rainforest and much more. They even have some great opportunities for scuba divers too. These discounted tours are available for travel in November of this year and February of next. Booking must be made by June 24 to take advantage of these savings.
This is an opportunity to visit one of the most spectacular places on the planet at an unbelievable savings. The Great Barrier Reef is a destination that all travelers should have on their list with the understanding that travel there is handled safely and sustainably so as to protect this fragile, yet incredibly beautiful ecosystem.
This coming Saturday, June 8, is World Oceans Day, a global event designed to celebrate the important role that the oceans play in keeping our planet a vibrant place for us to live. Throughout the day there will be hundreds of events taking place across the globe that will help educate us on the importance of keeping our oceans healthy, while raising awareness of the challenges they face in the 21st century. One such event is an ambitious 12-hour live tour of the Great Barrier Reef that will give us a very personal look at one of the most important and beautiful marine ecosystems on Earth.
Stretching for more than 1600 miles along the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is home to a dizzying array of species including sea turtles, dolphins, whales and countless smaller fish. Massive in size, the reef covers more than 133,000 square miles and is large enough to be visible from space. It also attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors on an annual basis, many who come to snorkel or dive the GBR’s breathtakingly clear waters.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time on Friday, June 7, a team of marine biologists will launch a live event that will stream to the Internet via Google Hangouts. They’re calling this event “Reef Live” and throughout the 12 hours that follow, they’ll be broadcasting from their floating “Sea Studio.” While the event is ongoing, divers will share live images from the reef, while taking us on a guided tour of this very special place both above and below the ocean’s surface.
The event won’t be just about streaming pretty pictures from the waters off the Australian coast, however. Anyone who attends the Google Hangout will be able to ask the team questions about what they are seeing on their screens at any given time, while also interacting with a group of expert panelists who will be in attendance as well. This will give us unprecedented access to marine biologists and reef experts who will be able to provide the insight and knowledge that will make this event a unique and special one.
Reef Live is melding technology, the Internet and social media in new ways to deliver a live event that just wouldn’t have been possible a few short years ago. Streaming real-time video across the Internet while millions look on and have the opportunity to directly participate is a fantastic idea. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together in a few days time. If you want watch the live broadcast and participate in the event, there is a handy countdown clock available on the Reef Live site that will help you determine when the project has officially started. Find it by clicking here.
They started trekking the planet more than a year ago, promising to travel the globe bringing children in classrooms from around the world with them, virtually, as they visited scores of countries and continents. Now their journey is complete and Darren and Sandy Van Soye are back to tell about it.
“Our dream is to educate children about geography and world cultures so we’ve planned the ultimate trek around the world to do just that,” Sandy Van Soye told Gadling when they began. In January of this year after passing the 50,000 mile mark, they had stopped in 40 countries with another dozen or so to go before returning to the United Sates. At the time, they had already beaten their own projections with 850 classrooms in 20 countries following their journey online.
Now with their world trek complete, the Van Soyes have traveled a total of 77,000 miles or the equivalent of three times around the earth at its equator. Their trek is an impressive amount of travel in such a short period of time for sure. But how they went about it is even more interesting.Starting on January 28, 2012, the journey began aboard a cruise ship, Princess Cruises‘ Pacific Princess, a small ship, which proved to be an efficient mode of transportation.
“We used cruise ships to get us between continents so that we could see more of the world,” said Sandy Van Soye. Spending 97 days of the nearly 500-day trek at sea the couple racked up 35 ports in 18 countries. An impressive number but travel via cruise ship is not the fastest way to be sure. From San Diego, it took 29 days to reach Sydney Australia, normally a 16- or 17-hour flight. But along the way, they visited Hawaii, American Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand.
After a seven-day trek in Tasmania, the team boarded another cruise ship, Ocean Princess to travel near Australia’s eastern coast, along the way visiting the Great Barrier Reef, the city of Darwin, Bali, Indonesia, and Ko Samui, Thailand, before arriving in Singapore. At each stop, they selected travel plans that would show students following along the natural beauty and unique people they encountered.
On land for the next eight months via a series of multiple day hikes, they visited 27 more countries in Asia, Europe and Africa before boarding the Pacific Princess in Rome. That Mediterranean sailing crossed the Atlantic Ocean, sailing up the Amazon River all the way to Manaus, Brazil.
Two months on land took them through 4,600 miles of South America before the final leg of their trek a voyage on Star Princess in Valparaíso, Chile, for their fifth and final cruise home.
Of all the places they went, which was their favorite? Kenya because of its rich culture and natural beauty
“It is a place that kids (have) heard of, so it was a pleasure to go there and talk more about it,” said Sandy of their visit to three Kenyan schools, one in the Maasai Mara and two in the Samburu region.
The biggest surprise along the way? Riga, Latvia
“There was just so much to see and do here and, though it is a capital city, it was relatively inexpensive,” said Sandy.
In addition to a lifetime of memories, the Van Soye’s trek produced a library of 60 four-page education modules for teachers available as supplements to existing classroom materials.
Also, their Trekking the Planet website contains free articles, quizzes, more than 70 documentary videos and a summary infographic: “Trekking The Planet: By The Numbers.“
So is that the end of the road for this couple? Hardly.
Driven by the fact that nearly a third of U.S. young adults cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map, Trekking the Planet hopes to help educators change these statistics with future geography-oriented projects.