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There are multiple Master Reef Guides that operate in the Southern region, including locations such as Yeppoon, Great Keppel Island, Heron Island, Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot Island.

You can read the profiles of each Master Reef Guide in the Southern region below, including the High Standard Tourism Operator they work for, their professional experience, and what they specialise in.

Master Reef Guides are the world’s leading reef guides, interpreters and storytellers 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.
 

Meet your Master Reef Guides - Southern

Master Reef Guide Catie is the Activities Supervisor on Heron Island, where a typical day consists of taking visitors around Heron Island on guided island walks, reef walks, semi-submersible tours and evening talks.  

Catie grew up in Sydney, NSW, where she has always loved animals and the ocean. She completed a Bachelor of Marine Science degree from Macquarie University with the hopes of getting into research.

However, whilst completing her Master of Science (Marine Biology and Ecology) degree from James Cook University, she started working as an education officer at Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville.

It was at this job that she fell in love with educating people about the marine environment.  

Having worked on Heron Island as a Naturalist Guide and Activities Supervisor for over a year, Catie loves educating and inspiring visitors about the reef, the island, the birds and all the marine life.

Catie’s biggest goal in life is to teach people about the reef and have them leave with a love of the reef.

She believes that to get people to want to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, first, they must learn about the reef and fall in love with it.

If she can teach one person one new thing about the reef each day, she knows that she is making a difference for the reef and its future. 
 

Catie

Elliot Peters - Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor & Skipper | Heron Island Resort | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 7)

Marine Centre (dive instructor, skipper, snorkel guide). Heron Island Resort since 2022.
Elliot fell in love with the ocean when he became a diver in 2015. It was then he quickly became enthralled by the dynamics of life in the ocean and educated himself on every organism, how they interact, and how he could respect and look after them. 

In 2008, Elliot founded an underwater clean-up group on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. This group, which he still runs, has directly engaged hundreds of individuals to safely and responsibly remove three tones of harmful debris including, over 100km of fishing line.

In 2021, Elliot left a long career in community support and care roles to start a career in the marine tourism industry, by becoming a Dive Instructor and Skipper. 

"Heron island has been my home and workplace for a year now. Being given the opportunity to become a Master Reef Guide was an early goal for me and I'm beyond grateful to have been selected. I look forward to increasing my knowledge, and my ability to convey such knowledge, to educate visitors of the Great Barrier Reef about it's inhabitants, it's importance, the pressures it faces and how we can all protect it."

Elliot Peters

Master Reef Guide | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 3)

Master Reef Guide Georgia will connect you to the Reef in a unique way, she will make you laugh, cry and be captivated all at once. As a natural storyteller, Georgia loves opening people’s eyes, connecting with people and sharing her enthusiasm, especially for the most inconspicuous reef critters!

As a Master Reef Guide she is on a platform from which she can give guests a life changing experience in a way that encourages guests to care and hopefully change their way of thinking and actions towards impact on the environment.

“I have undertaken a life changing experience by becoming a Master Reef Guide. A priceless fire that’s burning inside me, that I couldn’t get anywhere else but from this”.

 

Master Reef Guide Georgia

Georgia Perkins - Master Reef Guide | Guide | Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 7)

Georgia believes that it is a privilege to educate, and that the key to conservation is education. A firm believer in “we protect what we love, and love what we understand,” she takes every opportunity to spread her enthusiasm for underappreciated organisms and the wonder that is the interconnectedness of the Great Barrier Reef, both in and out of the water. Her day is made by actively showing people the reef and allowing them to experience it for themselves, "so often you can literally watch people’s world expand and passion ignite for both the natural world and its conservation."

Georgia fell in love with the ocean the very first time she went snorkeling as a young child in the temperate northern beaches of Sydney. This love has only grown as she has explored more marine ecosystems worldwide. She has delved further into the complexities and contrast of different marine systems through her Marine Science degree in temperate Newcastle, through to moving up to the Southern GBR at Lady Elliot, which has only increased her drive to help protect it. 

Georgia Perkins

Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor | Marine Biologist | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 1)

Master Reef Guide Nat believes that one person can make a difference. Passionate about the Reef, she is convinced that the best way to motivate people to care for the natural world is to get them to experience and fall in love with it.

Bringing the Reef to life to inspire people through stories and fun facts, she constantly seeks ways to create change by connecting visitors’ encounters to an element of their everyday lives.

She is enthusiastic and optimistic and especially loves interacting with younger generations to encourage them to follow their passions and create positive change in the world.

Whether guiding on land or in the water, she enjoys dodging bird poop on island walks as much as she loves the challenge of teaching first-timers to snorkel and scuba dive.

“I was lucky enough to spend a week surrounded by the most inspiring group of people who, like me, have a common vision and passion, and are dedicated to loving, protecting and sharing the wondrous Great Barrier Reef with the world. 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. Yes, I am just one person, but as one of the Master Reef Guides I’m part of a small group with a BIG potential for impact and that’s how one person can make a difference.”

 

Master Reef Guide Natalie

Master Reef Guide | Managing Director | Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 1)

In 1984, Peter obtained a cleaning contract for Queensland National Parks within the Brisbane Forest Park, where he became involved in the ecotourism industry and learned about protecting the environment.

He realised it was possible to have a sustainable tourism business that cared for the environment and could make a difference.

In his late teens, Peter visited Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands (the Southern Ladies) and fell in love with the Great Barrier Reef.

He set his goal to be the Island leaseholder and successfully achieved this in July 2005.  

Peter is now the operator of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.

His future vision for Lady Elliot Island is to showcase this magnificent jewel of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and to keep its access and visitation costs at a level that all Australians can afford to experience its natural beauty.  

The Lady Elliot Island team work hard at providing an educational experience, particularly encouraging school and university groups to learn about the Reef, its diversity and marine life and to educate their guests about climate change issues.

Peter’s personal mission is inspiring people to make a difference – we all have the ability to influence change for the good.

He and his family see themselves as custodians of this wonderful island – their goal is to leave a legacy –  the legacy of a better place….. to inspire others to do amazing things.
 

Master Reef Guide Peter

Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Lady Elliot Island EcoResort | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 4)

Master Reef Guide Jacinta is a Marine Biologist on the team at Lady Elliot Island - the southern island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

As a sixth-generation descendant of the famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, Jacinta shares his famed spirit of adventure, which led her to – Lady Elliot Island.

Here, she spends her time educating and showcasing the magic the island has to offer to the guests through island walks, glass bottom boats and snorkelling tours.

Living and breathing Lady Elliott Island daily has led Jacinta to capture and share her most memorable moments through her social media channels.

With this love for the ocean comes her passion for protecting the reef, and she encourages the world to visit or consider what changes they can make at home to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.

“Storytelling is probably one of the most important tools with guiding because that’s how we engage with our customers. Ultimately, that’s what they will remember – how we made them feel about the reef”.

 

Master Reef Guide Jacinta

 

Master Reef Guide | Activities Supervisor | Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 1)

Master Reef Guide Jess is the Activities Supervisor at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.

Her role includes developing interpretation programs for visitors and, along with her team, delivering engaging and informative presentations and tours on a wide range of topics, including coral reef ecology, sea birds, sea turtles, island and cay vegetation, sharks, manta rays, humpback whales and history.

Living permanently on the island has given her the unique opportunity to immerse herself in the ecosystem day and night.

Jess is a naturalist guide and natural educator with a thirst for knowledge, making her the ideal guide to the Reef and Islands.

She aims to use her passion and knowledge to educate visitors and build their appreciation and understanding of the coral reef environment to influence positive change.

Her goal is for the people she encounters to feel the same enthusiasm for the Reef. When Jess is not snorkelling or scuba diving, she is usually found painting seascapes.

“I was lucky enough to be selected to be part of the first cohort of the Great Barrier Reef Master Reef Guide Program. I am humbled and proud to be included in this group of incredibly passionate and inspirational people who love the Reef with all they have to give. Friendships have been formed and I know that I’ve come out a different person, with an extended family all across the Great Barrier Reef”.

 

Master Reef Guide Jessica
 

 Master Reef Guide I Dive Instructor | Lady Elliot Eco Resort | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4)

Master Reef Guide Naoko, fondly known as Naz, discovered her love of diving in 2014 and spent much time in the water volunteering in the Maldives, Fiji, Thailand and Bali.

She then spent the next two years teaching people how to explore the oceans of the Indo-Pacific; she realised it was time to return home to Australia and explore her Queensland backyard – The Great Barrier Reef.

“I realised that I hadn’t had the chance to dive and see the beautiful reefs back home in Australia, so I packed my things up and moved to Cairns to see what the Great Barrier Reef had to offer’.

Naz wasn’t disappointed, and her passion for the reef and underwater world led her to study marine biology at university.

Fast forward to today, Naz works as a dive instructor with TUSA Dive and is busy sharing her knowledge with guests.

“The Great Barrier Reef never ceases to surprise me. Whenever you think you’ve had the best dive/snorkel in your life, the Great Barrier Reef shows you that it just gets better and better. Working as a dive instructor and a Master Reef Guide on the Great Barrier Reef, gives me the opportunity to share amazing experiences and educate customers about the beautiful reef and it’s inhabitants. I believe that coming out to the reef and seeing it in its glorious state will inspire people to protect it, wherever in the world they are from”.

 

Master Reef Guide Naoko

Master Reef Guide | Skipper | Owner | Freedom Fast Cats | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 4)

Master Reef Guide Max has Island living, and boats are in Max's blood; the history of maritime tourism in the Allen family

dates back to 1950 when Lew Allen established the first resort on Quoin Island – off the shores of Gladstone. Fast forward 70 years, and the family still works showcasing the beauty of islands and the surrounding waters through 'Freedom Fast Cat's, which has been operating since 1999.

Freedom Fast Cats offers ferry transfers and a wide range of cruises to the Keppel Bay Islands.

Max Allen Junior brings his spin and creative flair to the business.

Through his family's stories and local knowledge, he plays an important part in preserving and presenting the Southern Great Barrier Reefs' colourful past, present and future to visitors.

Master Reef Guide Max

Pieter Demmers - Master Reef Guide | Guide | Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 7)

Pieter says he was very privileged to be brought up in Kenya and had a wide variety of animals in his garden, including resident warthog, giraffe, buffalo and the occasional leopard, so he has always had a deep appreciation for wildlife and the environment - so much so that his parents often had to try and track me down with our dogs to locate me in the bush! He also had a fascination with the ocean on his holidays to the Kenyan coast and spent many hours a day exploring the reef.  

After completing a degree in zoology, Pieter went on to study African elephants, black rhino, and lowland and mountain gorillas. A few years ago, he visited Lady Elliot Island and was immediately hooked. He retrained as a Divemaster and Instructor with the aim of getting a job there - which somehow, he did!

I love showcasing the reef's diverse marine life and inspiring guests to help protect it. I believe that education is key to conservation, and I hope that my passion for it rubs off on the guests so they can help preserve it.

Pieter Demmers

Steven was successfully nominated as a Master Reef Guide by 'Lady Musgrave Experience' to represent the Southern Great Barrier Reef Island of Lady Musgrave.

Steven's background is in conservation efforts for both Rainforest and Reef habitats. His interest lies predominately in Coral Reef biomes.

His journey started swimming and free diving off the Queensland coast as a kid with his family in Bundaberg, growing up in the small beachside area of Bargara.

It was here his love for all things aquatic began. Likewise, his first interactions with nesting sea turtles became a lifelong interest.

Weekends were spent heading out on a boat exploring Reef systems and learning how fragile and important our oceans are and how intricate life forms are contained within. 

Since then, Steven has been involved with many conservation efforts and organisations, from volunteering to actively researching terrestrial and marine species, including Clean-up Australia, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Coral Cay Island Bird Count in Australia, Leaf to Reef, Eye on the Reef, and Mon Repos Turtle Rookery.

Steven's background studies are in Animal Ecology and Reef Ecology.

Studied and contributed to conservation efforts in Western Papua on Rinca Island for the Komodo Dragon, filmed and documented Red Crab migrations of Christmas Island; he actively participates in 'Leaf to Reef', Eye on Reef and Sea turtle nesting monitoring and turtle research outside of work where he actively tags, monitors and releases.

Steven's interest in marine turtles eventually brought him back to the town of Bundaberg, where he now contributes to research data for Queensland Parks and Wildlife under Professor Colin Limpus.

His other passions lay in wildlife photography and making documentaries. He is currently employed with Lady Musgrave Experience as the Director of Marine Education and Senior Wildlife Ecologist, where he continues his research on marine life and Reef systems.

Also, educating people on the immense value and importance the Great Barrier Reef holds. In Steven's words, this is a dream come true where he is able to live and work on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, which, in his opinion, is one of the BEST offices in the world.  

 

Steven Pulvirenti
 

Tilly Shepherd - Master Reef Guide | Guide | Keppel Dive and Snorkel | Southern Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 7)

Tilly grew up living on a sailing yacht on the Great Barrier Reef, learning to snorkel almost as soon as she could walk. With Lizard Island, the Ribbon Reefs and the Far North as her childhood backyard, she had no choice but to fall in love with the Great Barrier Reef and the underwater world.

Over the last 4 years, Tilly has worked for companies such as Keppel Dive and Snorkel on Great Keppel Island, and Aroona Luxury Boat Charters out of Cairns. She's been lucky enough to visit some of the most remote and pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef and worked with a range of scientists, film-makers and industry leaders.

"I love sharing my passion for the reef and the ocean with visitors to the Great Barrier Reef and bringing as many life-changing experiences to people as I can."

Tilly Shepherd

Created
Updated 12 Feb 2024
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