AUSTRALIA'S GREATEST ICON: Two workshops provide the opportunity for children and adults to learn about the Great Barrier Reef and how it can be conserved.
AUSTRALIA'S GREATEST ICON: Two workshops provide the opportunity for children and adults to learn about the Great Barrier Reef and how it can be conserved. Cruise Whitsundays

Become a guardian of iconic coral reef

WHAT is a Master Reef Guide and how do you become a Citizen of the Great Barrier Reef? These questions and many more will be answered at two Great Barrier Reef Festival workshops next week.

Hosted by Lure in the Coral Sea Marina Resort, the workshops will be held on Thursday, August 1, and are free to attend.

The morning session from 9.15-11am is aimed at children, with school students from Cannonvale State School confirmed to attend and families with children who are home schooled invited to register via www.greatbarrierreef festival.com.au.

The afternoon session from 12-2pm is aimed at adults, with registrations also through the festival's website.

Whitsunday diver and conservationist Tony Fontes will emcee both workshops and said he was thrilled to see reef education incorporated into the festival's program of events.

"The reef is Australia's greatest icon for its sheer diversity and beauty, not to mention the income it generates and the jobs it supports,” he said.

"However we all know the reef is under pressure, these days more so than ever before, primarily because of climate change.”

"The reef is still beautiful and relatively healthy, but it needs our support - we need to engage people to ensure they help us have the greatest reef in the world into the future.”

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef CEO Andy Ridley, who also founded Earth Hour, said with millions of people accessing the Great Barrier Reef through the Whitsundays, it was important that every one of those individuals went home wanting to protect and conserve the international treasure.

"The people of the Whitsundays hold an extraordinarily important role in engaging the world in the future of the reef, which is the single biggest mission of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

"We would love people to come along to these workshops and learn how to be part of the Citizens project.”

Great Barrier Reef Festival vice-president Heather Batrick said it was a privilege to have a platform through which people could be informed about the Great Barrier Reef.

"We don't take that for granted and we particularly welcome the opportunity to showcase some of the positive programs ensuring preservation of a global icon we are lucky to have on our doorstep,” she said.

Coral Sea Marina Resort marketing and business development manager Joscelyn O'Keefe said it was important to not only educate people but inspire them to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which these engaging workshops would achieve.

"Now more than ever we need people to care about our coral reefs,” Ms O'Keefe said.

"Only by painting a balanced picture will we convey what a difference people can make and harness the power of collective hope.”

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler commended the festival and marina resort teams on the initiative.

"During our peak visitation periods more people are introduced to the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays than any other destination in the marine park so it is fitting that the Great Barrier Reef Festival should lead the charge in a reef education sense,” she said.

Visit the festival website for the full workshop schedule and follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Great Barrier Reef Festival from August 1-4 is proudly supported by Cruise Whitsundays.

REEF FOCUS

WHAT: Great Barrier Reef Festival workshops.

WHEN: Thursday, August 1, 9.15-11am (children), noon-2pm (adults).

WHERE: Lure, Coral Sea Marina Resort.

COST: Free.