Master Reef Guides

Master Reef Guides are recognised as the world’s leading reef guides, interpreters and story tellers sharing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. These reef ambassadors can provide up to date information on the Reef, share stories of the magical World Heritage Area and explain what you can do to make a difference.

The Master Reef Guide program is delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Tourism and Events Queensland and is the first of its kind for the Reef.

On 4 February 2019 the Great Barrier Reef welcomed its first cohort of Master Reef Guides, 13 official interpreters, story tellers and ambassadors for the Reef. A second cohort of guides is being trained in 2019.

As one of the first Master Reef Guides so perfectly put it:

“The Master Reef Guides were brought together to learn how to enhance people’s reef experiences through storytelling, creating those unforgettable WOW moments, and planting seeds for people to take home and grow into something beautiful,” Natalie Lobartolo, Master Reef Guide.

The role of a Master Reef Guide

The Great Barrier Reef tourism industry plays a vital role in presenting the values of the World Heritage Area to millions of visitors annually. Providing storytellers and ambassadors within the tourism industry with up to date information and a leadership platform will ensure world-class representation of the Reef, its values and the management in place to protect those values.

Master Reef Guides will not only provide up to date information on the Reef, but share their stories and experiences, explain how you can get involved in reef protection, and provide tips and tricks to help the Reef from anywhere in the world.

The making of a Master Reef Guide

The Master Reef Guides program provides a formal and appealing qualification to tourism staff. Master Reef Guides are considered the best in their field for reef interpretations, master storytelling and experience delivery. Reaching Master Reef Guide status requires a comprehensive selection and training process.

Once nominated, potential guides will be shortlisted, interviewed and selected. Successful nominees will then join their cohort for both online and in-field training.

Online Reef Discovery Course:

All Master Reef Guides must complete the comprehensive online training course ‘Reef Discovery Course’ – the free online course covers the A-Z of all things Great Barrier Reef and how best to share that knowledge with visitors. It consists of ten modules and is a one stop shop that synthesises and describes the world heritage values of the Reef and the latest science and management information in a contemporary format.

The Reef Discovery Course is currently being tested by the inaugural cohort of Master Reef Guides and will be released to the broader industry in April this year.

Field Training School:

All Master Reef Guides must complete a specialised Field Training School. The inaugural cohort visited Brisbane and Lady Elliot Island in November 2018 for a week of training from the Chief Scientist of the Authority, body language and public speaking specialists, a professional Galapagos Guide, an experienced Reef Pilot, traditional owners and several other science and field guiding experts.

Below are just some examples of the sessions and masterclasses Master Reef Guides take part in:

  • Public speaking and body language training:Public speaking and body language training provides valuable presentation skills, including developing an engaging interpretative talk, how to read your audience, how to interact with questions or interruptions and much more.
  • Enhancing the visitor experience: Learnabout the visitor experience – delivering on your promises and how to innovate your story.
  • Q&A with protected area managers – The Marine Park is widely recognised as one of the best managed marine protected areas in the world. Talk to the experts and find out more about all things Great Barrier Reef management.
  • Indigenous connections & cultural awareness: The concept of a living past resonates deeply with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who belong to the world’s oldest living cultures.
  • Origins of the Reef:The history of geomorphological studies of the Great Barrier Reef and influences of sea-level change and oceanographic processes on the development of reefs over the last 10,000 years.
  • Communicating science and management: Communicating complex science to non-scientific audiences with David Wachenfeld (Chief Scientist for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority).
  • The power of Interpretation: Providing visitors with the what, how, why and aha elements of their experience. More and more visitors to natural places are seeking meaning and a broader understanding of the place.

Nominate to be a Master Reef Guide

Nominations have now closed for the second cohort of Master Reef Guides.

Future nomination rounds will be advertised.