Tertiary Deserts

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Second Nature Education offers an amazing variety of educational and experiential programs to a variety of semi-arid and arid environments in: Queensland and New South Wales; throughout Australia; and overseas.

All our programs are either tailored to support a chosen unit of study, or as specifically requested by our clients.

What we provide

  • Award-winning educators/ facilitators
  • Itineraries and Flyers
  • Curriculum-based work-booklets
  • All relevant equipment (supplying up to 150x students per session)
  • Example assessment tasks
  • Transportation options (we provide quotes to utilise our own buses for every excursion and can purchase all relevant flights relating to your program where applicable)
  • Pre/Post Excursion Activities (usually a PPP)
  • Risk Assessment (location specific)
  • Variety of field-work locations (where available)
  • Accommodation options (we provide quotes to utilise the most affordable and most appropriate accommodation to suit your needs)
  • Catering options (we provide quotes to utilise our own in-house catering service for every excursion (where available) and/or catering through a third-party provider

Tertiary (TAFE/University) Programs

Our Tertiary Education programs have been developed for specific units of study within a variety of courses (e.g. Botany, Ecology, Vertebrate Biology, Environmental Science, Environmental Education etc.). We can also tailor programs upon request. By participating in a “Deserts” program, students gain a comprehensive understanding and awareness of the importance of desert ecosystems through direct interaction with the natural environment (excursions) or through a virtual desert investigation (incursion).

Trip Overview

All Tertiary in-class presentations and field trips to semi-arid or arid environments come with complimentary assessable work-booklets, which are tailored to the requirements of an institution. Our field trips allow for an in-depth, methodical and structured investigation of semi-arid or arid environments. Alternatively, virtual desert investigations allow students who are unable to participate in a field trip to gain a basic understanding of semi-arid and arid ecosystems through a well-designed in-class presentation.


  • Seeing the amazing sights of Australia’s Red Centre (on domestic tours)
  • Learning about the traditional use of desert resources from the local Indigenous people
  • Sketching
  • Map-reading/comprehension
  • Biodiversity surveys
  • Identifying adaptations of xerophytic plants (heat/light/water/reproduction etc.)
  • Identification of plants and animals suited to the desert using dichotomous keys
  • Scientific equipment use (anemometers/barometers/thermometers etc.)
  • Looking for additional evidence of wildlife (bird nests/spider burrows etc.)
  • Use of binoculars e.g. bird watching
  • Quadrat and line transect activities
  • Talk from a National Park Ranger or Environmental Scientist!

More Information



  • Exploration of 1-4 semi-arid to arid sites including deserts, salt flats, heath land, eucalypt forests and palm forests.
  • Xerophytic plant identification activity
  • Bird identification activity
  • Field sketch of environment/s
  • Presentation on human impacts and management (observable in the natural environment)
  • Field work (quadrat or transect studies)


  • An interactive PowerPoint presentation
  • Investigation of xerophytic plant adaptations using samples taken from a living ecosystem
  • Bird and plant identification activities
  • Passing around of items found in the desert
  • Active “Food Chains and Food Webs” game
  • Quiz (with prizes!) to assess comprehension
Educational Outcomes
  • Awareness and knowledge of semi-arid and arid ecosystems
  • Appreciation for the diversity of organisms suited to semi-arid and arid environments
  • A basic understanding of how semi-arid and arid ecosystems work including knowledge of food chains/webs, habitats and adaptations
  • Awareness of how human activities and climate change are contributing to the desertification (and often salinization) of non-arid ecosystems such as wetlands and rainforests
  • Knowledge of the current threats to xerophytic plants and other desert organisms presented by climate change
  • Learning of sustainable behaviours that help to alleviate these threats
  • A sense of connection to and feeling of stewardship towards Australia’s semi-arid and arid environments
  • An understanding of the complex processes involved in managing our semi-arid and arid environments in a sustainable manner.

Below is an example itinerary for a 1-day “Deserts” excursion. All excursions packages include the necessary work booklets and equipment.

09:00 Tour group pick- Second Nature have a fleet of vehicles available to cater for any number of passengers (within reason). We can provide transport to and from institutions and airports
09:45 Arrive at destination for Activity session 1 Australia’s deserts are home to a unique community of plants and animals that have pioneered some bizarre and impressive adaptations to cope with the extreme temperatures and low rainfall they are subjected to in their arid habitat. During this activity, you will identify plants and animals of the desert and nearby heathland/forest. You will take note of the adaptations they use to survive in their environment and draw a lateral view of the visible plant communities as an initial field sketch.
10:15 Morning tea
10:45 Field Work Session 1 Line transects and quadrat surveys are frequently utilised by field scientists to monitor how an area changes over time. During this activity, students will be divided into groups to assess a desert study site using techniques explained by our guides. The activity will involve taking measurements of physical factors using supplied equipment and recording results in a data collection table. This is excellent hands on experience in the field!
11:45 Lunch at destination Great areas to take a break and enjoy the scenery
12:45 Field Work Session 2 Students will conduct a contrasting line transect and or quadrat survey at a second study site. This site will be dominated by heathland, eucalypt forest or pine forest (depending on the location). The comparison of desert and forest sites will later form the basis of the students’ summative field reports.
13:45 Activity Session 4 Talk from a National Park Ranger or environmental scientist. During this activity, a guest speaker will deliver a presentation on desertification (and salinization) as a likely consequence of climate change. They will use current scientific data to make predictions about the future of Australia’s deserts and other semi-arid environments.
14:15 Depart destination, back to institution or airport
15:00 Arrive back at institution or airport when required