There are three Master Reef Guides in the Townsville region and 24 in the Whitsundays region.
You can read the profiles of each Master Reef Guide in Townsville and Whitsundays 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 - Townsville
Adam Hinks – Master Reef Guide | Owner | Aquascene Charters Pty Ltd | Townsville (Cohort 5)
Master Reef Guide | Skipper | Dive Instructor | Owner | Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive | Townsville (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Paul is a legend in the Great Barrier Reef dive industry, as the owner of Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive for over 20 years. The Townsville based dive training and marine tourism operator offers diving trips to various reefs and the SS Yongala Wreck.
Paul has a wealth of knowledge and stories to share on the Great Barrier Reef. Whether he is talking about diving many of the uncharted and rarely explored wrecks in the area, or the history of the local Reef sites off Townsville, Paul will keep you interested. Paul maintains a commitment to environmental sustainability and the education of his guests, as a recognised Eco Tourism Australia ‘Green Travel Leader’.
Master Reef Guide | Owner | Aquascene Charters | Magnetic Island | Townsville (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Steph grew up on Magnetic Island, Steph has been influenced by the beauty and magic of the Great Barrier Reef from a young age.
Steph has a background in the Great Barrier Reef Tourism Industry in the Townsville region for over 35 years and together with her husband, owns and operates their successful tour business on Magnetic Island, Aquascene Charters, for the past 15 years.
Steph also has a passion for creativity and education, it has always been important to her on many levels and is at the heart of everything she does. One of her artistic passions is to paint with wax. “I love being creative and to be able to create beautiful pieces of artwork that tell a story. I have always found the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef a true inspiration for my art and find great happiness in being able to express through art, it is the greatest feeling to share that. I wake up each day to the absolute privilege of living on a beautiful Island I call my home, “Magnetic Island, part of the Great Barrier Reef. It is here that I am also mum to our four amazing children who teach me the important message of “being present in every moment”. They are everyday reminders of why it is so important to tell the stories”
“As a Master Reef Guide, I wish to weave a tapestry of amazing experiences and stories together so that others will feel a sense of connection to the incredibly diverse beauty of the Great Barrier Reef”. “I absolutely love where I live, and hope through my stories about my love for the Great Barrier Reef and all the living creatures that call it home, that I can help create a beautiful wave of change and inspire others to continue to tell the stories. We can all tell a story, but a story told from the heart is one that will connect with the soul and create change.”
Meet your Master Reef Guides - Whitsundays
Growing up in outback Western Australia, Amelia developed a fascination for the ocean in her early twenties after studying Zoology and Environmental Science. Now interested, she acquired her dive certifications, participated in several volunteer programs, and started working in the aquarium industry, Amelia quickly became hooked and decided to pick her life up and relocate to the Whitsundays in Queensland to be closer to the Great Barrier Reef. Now, Amelia manages the Living Reef located on Daydream Island. Each day, she shares her passion and love for the ocean, as well as the wonders of the reef with the guests and employees of the island. Amelia believes the Living Reef is a great resource for all ages, backgrounds and abilities to learn about the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday region. She hopes that by creating a connection and lasting memories for people they will feel motivated to help preserve the reef.
“I believe my early years surrounded by desert and drought has fueled my interest and fascination with the Great Barrier Reef so much so that I moved across country! I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a Master Reef Guide and I can’t wait to learn all I can and pass the information on to my amazing team and the islands visitors.”
Master Reef Guide | Skipper | True Blue Sailing | Whitsundays (Cohort 4) (From: Great Britain)
Master Reef Guide Ben believes life is better when you are laughing and creates a fun atmosphere for his onboard guests. Whether this be through an interpretive dance, interesting fact or a story that leaves you on the edge of your seat, all the guests onboard True Blue Sailing are guaranteed to have a fun and interesting time.
“I am responsible for my guest’s wellbeing as an employee of True Blue Sailing, and now as a Master Reef Guide I am responsible for imparting factually correct information that will enlighten tourists and protect the reef for many years to come. And there is a certain level of pride associated with wearing a uniform that I have worked hard for, knowing that I am a representative of the Great Barrier Reef”
Master Reef Guide | Owner & Skipper | Kiana Sail and Dive Whitsundays | Whitsundays (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Brent has been addicted to scuba diving since the age of 15. Fast forward 31 years and 7500 dives later Brent has not lost his love for being underwater and on the water. Brent is now the Ship’s Captain on Kiana Sail & Dive. Coming up to 25 years here, you still will not find Brent without a smile on his face! His passion and love for the Great Barrier Reef is infectious. Renowned for his patience, friendliness and good sense of humour you will want to visit the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef with this Master Reef Guide! He also tells a great story, as his nickname suggests ‘Chatts'.
"By becoming a Master Reef Guide, I have acquired the ability through training and recognition to share my enthusiasm, stories and knowledge to all the reef visitors I meet. I feel privileged and humbled to be selected as a Master Reef Guide and will put 200% in to help make the difference".
Carolyn Lewis - Master Reef Guide | Owner | Ocean Dynamics | Whitsundays (Cohort 5)
Carolyn is the owner and founder of Ocean Dynamics, based in the beautiful Whitsundays. Ocean Dynamics is a family owned and operated business, growing from just one vessel in 2004 to over 10 vessels and a fleet of jet skis in 2021. Ocean Dynamics is proud to be recognised as a High Standard Tourism Operator.
Carolyn is proud to be supported by an amazing team, which includes her four children.
“Sharing the immense beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, and the natural landscapes and secret coves of the Whitsundays Islands is something that you never grow tired of. Each and every day I spend on the water getting to meet so many amazing people and seeing them experience their first snorkel or dive, or first visit to Whitehaven Beach is definitely a highlight of the job”.
Chih-Siang (Taylor) Chen - Master Reef Guide | Skipper | Ocean Rafting l Whitsundays (Cohort 4) (From: Taiwan)
Master Reef Guide Taylor grew up in Taiwan and spent much of his time swimming diving and snorkelling in the Pacific Ocean, which is rich in marine diversity and an amazing underwater world.
At high school, he learnt about the Great Barrier Reef and from that moment dreamt of experiencing it firsthand and it became one of the main reasons he came to Australia. Taylor can still remember the first time he saw Hardy Reef, Whitsundays, the corals and marine life. If there were a place called “harmony”, he would say it is the space between the fish and the corals underwater. Taylor wants to pass on his infectious love for the Great Barrier Reef to everyone who visits, and working as an eco-host, skipper and Master Reef Guide for Ocean Rafting, he endeavours to do so through education and storytelling.
Master Reef Guide | Guest Experience Manager Cruise and owner of Little Fish Tourism Consulting | Whitsundays
Crystal Lacey, better known as ‘Little Fish’, is the Guest Experience Manager at Cruise Whitsundays in Airlie Beach. Despite growing up in country Queensland, Crystal has dedicated her life to preserving the Great Barrier Reef. Crystal is a dive instructor, underwater photographer, reef interpreter, marine educator and now one of our first Master Reef Guides.
“I had the honour of becoming part of the most inspirational team whom endeavour to change the future. The Training School week I will never forget – moments to be treasured, friendships becoming family, all brought to life through the Master Reef Guide program.”
A marine biologist and a Savannah guide at Red Cat Adventures. Emily’s enthusiasm is infectious whilst talking about both the land and the sea. Emily enjoys teaching and educating guests to open their understanding of the Great Barrier Reef. The current challenges around climate change and other environmental impacts mean that tourism's role is critical in changing guests' behaviours to more positive lifestyle environmental impacts. Emily has built her career around demonstrating positive action and building the skills to empower others to do the same. Emily completed an international internship at Koh Tao, Thailand which she fell in love with coral conservation, coral restoration and coral health impacts. In Emily’s spare time, she regularly cleans beaches and researches where the plastic pollution she found travels from. Since discovering her love for coral restoration Emily has taken on the leadership role of the Coral Nurture program for Red Cat Adventures which involves surveying the coral health, looking for diseases, maintenance on the structure and out planting when coral colonies are healthy and leaving enough. Emily has an appetite to learn and she believes she will make a positive attribute to the Master Reef Guide program.
Fiona McTavish - Master Reef Guide | Whitsundays (Cohort 3) (From: Scotland)
Master Reef Guide Fiona has worked in the Whitsunday Marine Tourism Industry for six years. Fiona is an experienced sailor and deck hand, as well as a Marine and Freshwater Biologist. Fiona has worked for Tallship Adventures for over three years in her role that includes trimming the sails to in-water guiding and island walk interpretation.
Fiona has a thirst for knowledge and loves to research information about the Great Barrier Reef. Fiona is an experienced and dedicated Eye on the Reef surveyor who recognises the importance of contributing to the Great Barrier Reef’s long term protection by collecting valuable information about reef health, marine animals and incidents.
“The Master Reef Guide program has empowered me with the skills to train others and enlighten and inspire guests who visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in the Whitsundays region”.
Master Reef Guide | Environment Manager | Ocean Rafting Whitsundays | Whitsundays (Cohort 3) (From: Great Britain)
Master Reef Guide James grew up in a coastal town in the UK and has always had a passion for the ocean. In 2016, he graduated Plymouth University with a Geography and Ocean Science degree and was fortunate enough to be able to travel through South America, Asia and eventually Australia.
He arrived in the Whitsunday Region and very quickly realised he didn’t want to be anywhere else. The Whitsundays has a combination of everything that makes the Marine Park globally significant. From Whitehaven beach, 74 spectacular islands and beautiful fringing reef.
James works as a Skipper and Guide on Ocean Rafting. He gets to appreciate amazing ecosystems daily. It is his belief that education is at the heart of managing the stresses seen on the Great Barrier Reef. With access to over 200 tourists a day Ocean Rafting is the perfect platform to educate people from all over the globe on the fringing reefs throughout the Whitsundays.
“The Master Reef Guide network amplifies that notion to ensure that guests across the whole of the Great Barrier Reef leave having had an incredible experience, but also sharing the same vision that the Great Barrier Reef is worth protecting. That we all have the potential to have a positive influence on not just here but all the beautiful natural environments the world has to offer”.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Cruise Whitsundays | Whitsundays (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Jemma has worked at Cruise Whitsundays for over five years. She regularly trains the crew to help ensure the message we send about the Great Barrier Reef is factual, educational and engaging.
“It is an honour to be part of a group that values the importance of the World Heritage Areas that we visit, and the wildlife that inhabits it. Being a Master Reef Guide will help me to deliver my messages more effectively and hopefully drive positive change and inspire my visitors to become reef ambassadors themselves”.
Jessanie Johnsen – Master Reef Guide | Deckhand | Red Cat Adventures | Whitsundays (Cohort 5)
The Whitsundays is the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and Jessanie feels very fortunate to call Airlie Beach her home. Jessanie is thankful for her awesome job at Red Cat Adventures and takes pleasure in taking friendly travellers to incredible underwater sites located in her backyard each day.
“With all the opportunities Red Cat and the Whitsundays has provided me, I cannot wait to further my knowledge about the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding islands. It will be a pleasure to connect my Savannah Guide knowledge and Master Reef Guide training so I can cover all aspects of land and sea on our tours.”
John McIntyre – Master Reef Guide | Lead Dive Instructor | True Blue Sailing | Whitsundays (Cohort 5)
Johnny has a seemingly unquenchable thirst to be on an adventure and working in the marine tourism industry allows him to live out his passion and satisfy that need as best he can. Johnny spent 7 years travelling the globe sharing his love of the underwater world with people in Central America and Asia before settling back home on the Great Barrier Reef. The pursuit of new challenges saw him transition from a Diving Instructor to Skipper and now he has the absolute pleasure of sailing around the Whitsunday Islands, exploring one of the world’s greatest natural beauties with inquisitive guests on board.
“I’m incredibly grateful to True Blue Sailing for allowing me to share this extremely precious part of the world with other like-minded, thrill seeking souls in a respectful and environmentally friendly manner. Education brings awareness and I am now in a very fortunate position where I can be an ambassador for the marine world every single day. Eco tourism is the way forward.”
Julia Farrell originally studied psychology (BSc Hons) and worked in education but after just one dive on the Great Barrier Reef knew this was where her future lay. She now has 28 years of experience in the marine tourism industry as a dive instructor and company owner. Based in the Whitsundays, she currently runs Reef Safari Diving along with her husband Peter, who is also a Master Reef Guide. Reef Safari Diving manages the daily diving and snorkeling activities for Cruise Whitsundays guests out at Hardy Reef. She hopes that by giving visitors the very best experience of the Great Barrier Reef, they will form their own passionate connection to it strongly believing that people won’t preserve what they don’t appreciate. In 2004, Peter and Julia started operating diving and water sports at hotels in Fiji. This has now expanded to include two island resorts in the Yasawas. These companies work closely with the local population focusing on reef conservation and reef education for both the local communities and tourists.
Katie’s love for showing people the world around us began while working on Fraser Island as a Marine Ranger. From here, she found guidance from a fellow Master Reef Guide while working as a reef sleep host at Cruise Whitsundays. Here Katie realised what she wanted to do with her life, and that was to work on the Great Barrier Reef and show everyone how amazing it is.
She then moved to the Kimberley’s, in particular the Abrolhos Islands and she has also worked in Coral Bay Western Australia where she discovered her love for birdlife and then an opportunity became available to her at Heron Island. This is where Katie discovered diving and much more. Starting out as a deckhand, progressing to become a Naturalist Guide, to now working at Sealink Whitsundays.
“My mum told me when I was a baby, if I ever cried she would put me in the water and I would be all happy again. That makes so much sense…. I am a water baby. If I could be anything… I would be a mermaid. I made the Olympic trials in 2000 for swimming and unfortunately broke my knee a month before the trials but I’m still in the water any chance I get.”
Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor | Explore Group Whitsundays | Whitsundays (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Kellie love of the water and the environment started at a young age. Kellie has been diving for over 20 years and working as a Dive Instructor in the Whitsunday Islands since 2008, her passion for the Great Barrier Reef is contagious.
Today she permanently lives on Hamilton Island and works with Explore Group who visit Bait Reef daily, where she knows every inch of her Reef backyard and where the small as well as the big critters hang out. She can introduce you to the local fish and tell you their background stories, as well as lots of fun and educational facts about anything you would like to know about the Reef habitat and its occupants.
Kellie’s aim is to have guests leave after a trip, feeling like they to have a special connection with the Reef, which will hopefully encourage them to want to protect the reef habitat. If Kellie’s not diving or snorkelling, she’s likely to be rehabilitating sick or injured wildlife.
“I want visitors to the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef to not only see its beauty but to leave having a better understanding of the animals and plants that live in it and the important role they play in the ecosystem, by giving information in a fun way. By creating a beautiful connection with the Reef, then they are more likely to make small changes in their everyday lives, which will help protect this part of the world for future generations."
Master Reef Guide | Owner | Whitsunday Luxury Sailing Holidays | Whitsundays (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Lynne, together with her husband John, designed and coordinated the construction of their luxury 60ft charter yacht Sydney Sundancer, which is now one of Australia’s most awarded charter vessels.
Since 1986 from June to October each year, they have welcomed explorers for live aboard “expedition voyages” departing from Hamilton Island showcasing the very best secrets the Whitsunday Islands and the outer Great Barrier Reef have to offer.
Lynne takes pleasure in imparting her knowledge and experience of the marine world. She has been exploring the Reefs of the world since 1973. Lynne & John offer a variety of cruise options where their goal has always been to give their guests the best possible Total Reef Experience through personal knowledgeable guiding, very small numbers, warm welcoming hospitality and mouth-watering meals accompanied by fine wines. In her cookbook entitled “Gourmet Sailing… delicious dining on the Great Barrier Reef & other delights” Lynne has recorded the meals and experiences guests enjoy under her stewardship.
“Such a great privilege to have been chosen to join an elite group of ambassadors for this World Heritage spectacular creation! What a difference we can all make together with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure the Great Barrier Reef, has the very best guides and to announce to the entire world what a miracle is the Great Barrier Reef. We must tell the world our stories”.
Merran is a mum to two boys, a devoted partner, and a Master 5 Skipper who calls the Whitsundays home. She works for Ocean Rafting as a skipper and leads the on-water team. The sea and empowering women are her two greatest passions. She aspires to be a lead advocate for the Great Barrier Reef and a lead advocate for women. And by binding these together, she can make a difference. Merran has worked at sea for 16 years and during that time, she found the experience almost completely void of female role models. She is now the sea of change. She hopes to become a frontline Ambassador for the Great Barrier Reef and advocate for its protection and preservation. At the same time, Merran aspires to raise the visibility of women and help create and be a positive female reef role model.
Peter Farrell – Master Reef Guide | Owner | Reef Safari | Whitsundays (Cohort 5)
Peter first got an opportunity to work on the Great Barrier Reef in the mid-1980s and fell in love with coral reefs. His initial passion has only grown over the last 30 years whilst working around the world teaching people how to dive and about the marine life.
Nowadays he runs a tourism business in Airlie Beach providing diving and reef interpretation tours for Cruise Whitsundays guests. He also owns and operates two marine conservation minded island resorts in Fiji where he works closely with his team running manta ray and shark research in collaboration with the Manta Trust. From these islands in Fiji he also runs water quality and reef survey projects and started a reef restoration project in Fiji.
However, his greatest love is still imparting his passion and knowledge for the reef to his students and guests. He believes by having a better understanding and appreciation of the reef, guests will be more aware and ready to assist in its protection.
Master Reef Guide I Owner I Scamper | Whitsunday Island Camping Connections (Cohort 2)
Master Reef Guide Sarah has literally grown up on boats and amongst the tourism industry, with her parents starting the Hervey Bay Whale Watch industry in Australia when she was just a baby. Naturally, her passion and connection for the ocean and its marine life grew.
Sarah moved up the Queensland coast to the warmer waters of the Whitsundays and believes she has the best job in the world, getting to take people snorkelling amongst the Great Barrier Reef and relaxing on the gorgeous Whitehaven Beach.
“I am one of those people that shows you, you can live your passion, do it well and get recognised for it. I was the youngest female skipper in Queensland, I obtained my dream job, and now being selected to be part of the dream team of the Great Barrier Reef, as a Master Reef Guide”.
Master Reef Guide | Wildcat/Red Cat Adventures | Mackay (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Steve was born with seawater in his blood, his father a commercial line fisherman, his mother running the local Volunteer Marine Rescue Centre.
Steve spent his youth wandering around beaches and tidal flats exploring the mangrove estuaries. Steve was always going to end up working in the Great Barrier Reef, and he has had many diverse roles. From a Master SCUBA Diver Trainer, a Commercial Skipper and Marine Engineer, nearly 20 years as a QLD Parks and Wildlife Marine Parks Ranger.
Steve is passionate about integrating conservation and tourism by leading conservation expeditions to National Park Islands and fringing reefs.
One of Steve’s particular passions is marine turtles. He is part of Mackay and District Turtle Watch, a volunteer group that undertakes marine turtle research and conservation. During turtle season October to March, Steve will be found on beaches monitoring nesting turtles and checking on the hatching success of the nests.
To be part of the Master Reef Guide Fraternity is such a privilege. When I undertook my Master Reef Guide training at Lizard Island, I sat in awe at the depth of knowledge and experience of my cohort. We, as Master Reef Guides living and working in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, have an amazing opportunity to deliver excellent tourism interpretation to highly engaged visitors.
"I am passionate about delivering conservation-based interpretation, which encompasses both marine and terrestrial environments. My mantra is “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand”.
Thomas believes that every day creates an opportunity to learn and experience something new. He has worked as a dive instructor and skipper over the past five years, which has created an opportunity where he is incredibly proud and honoured to sail around the Whitsundays on an ex-racing yacht with Prosail Whitsundays. Thomas has worked in marine tourism in Asia, New Zealand and across various parts of Australia but wherever he goes, he is always drawn back to the beauty of the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef. He loves making people smile, sharing stories and knowledge of the reef, and educating people on what can be done to protect it. Thomas feels privileged to have been selected as a Master Reef Guide, allowing him to take it one step further in making a difference in educating people and protecting the reef.
“The highlight of working in this industry is giving guests an experience of a lifetime while they dive, snorkel and sail their way around the Whitsundays.”
Toby Lodewijks – Master Reef Guide |Skipper/Eco Host | Ocean Rafting | Whitsundays (Cohort 5)
Toby spends most of his time showcasing and exploring the spectacular Whitsundays and the underwater world of the inshore Great Barrier Reef. He believes sharing knowledge and stories of the reef is best done on a personal and relatable level.
Having spent his upbringing in both regional and coastal New South Wales, Toby was always astounded by how interconnected both environments were. This passion for both terrestrial and marine environments led to a career as a Guide in the tourism industry.
Before working for Ocean Rafting Toby spent time living and working on Magnetic Island, being surrounded by 360 degrees of the Coral Sea furthered his love for all things ocean. Toby has also spent time working in remote Arnhem Land, exploring another passions in Indigenous Australian culture and history, he was stimulated by the surrounding people and environment.
“I feel so incredibly privileged to work in Ngaro sea country and share my knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef every single day to people from all walks of life."