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Home About Bookend Trust

About Bookend

What does Bookend do? The crash course...


Bookend is a not-for-profit education initiative that seeks to inspire students and their communities with the positive environmental careers they can build making the world a better place.

Bookend is funded through the donation of time, energy and resources by private individuals concerned about building a positive and co-operative environmental future for our students and community. We started this work voluntarily as we feel privileged in our careers, and we wish to pass this inspiration and opportunity to the next generation. This dedication is supported and guided through our Patrons, including best selling international authors Bryce Courtenay (Founding Patron - see our farewell to Bryce) and Neil Gaiman, national economic commentator Saul Eslake, wilderness photography expert Liz Dombrovskis, and international award-winning documentary maker Cathy Henkel.

Bookend is financially housed within the Pennicott Foundation and is physically hosted by the University of Tasmania in the School of Biological Sciences and at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).

Although our work started in Tasmania, we now undertake projects across Australia, with participating schools and regional communities from Darwin to Geraldton. Our strength lies in the diversity of our projects and partnerships, and we are seeking to build on-ground connections to other locations. Our work is available online to interested schools, students and interested individuals anywhere around the world.

"Sending in my application for the Bookend Trust’s Cave ART Program was one of the best decisions of my life. I have benefited greatly from the entire experience and it has continued to open up a whirlwind of opportunities... I’ve been on ABC Radio twice, been tweeted about, offered work experience at MONA, a flight over Antarctica and the opportunity to collaborate with another young artist! The Cave ART program has kick-started my career."  - Sophie Ambler (TAS), Bookend Trust Cave ART student 2014.

"I had such a fantastic educational experience with Bookend, which has solidified my decision to become an environmental scientist and try to help improve our struggling environment." - Sayah Drummond (WA), Bookend Trust summer student 2013.

“The best bits are all of it, there hasn’t been one thing I haven’t enjoyed or hasn’t pushed me, I’ve met some amazing people, learnt lots and experienced things most people my age haven’t and won’t get to until they are much older!” - Katie Mulder (TAS), Bookend Trust summer student 2012.

"Those who know me know I'm very rarely speechless, but I can honestly say I'm perilously close to speechless at the brilliance of the work of everyone involved with Bookend. The range of programs is just astounding. You've not only achieved Bookend's aims, you've wildly exceeded them." - Tasmanian Minister for Education, Nick McKim MP 2012.


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Bookend projects include:

  • Expedition Class: our unique and award-winning interactive student interface for primary schools, where students follow adventure teacher Andrew Hughes in the wilderness by satellite link and ask him questions live online as he's working. At the direction of students, he has: (i) kayaked 5,000km through rough seas and crocodile infested waters to traverse the full north-south extent of the Australian continent, (ii) explored coastal and internal Papua New Guinea; (iii) undertaken a massive 15,000km self-powered trip around the Australian interior to look at biogeography; (iv) investigated threatened species management in wilderness Tasmania, including remote camera sensing of Tasmanian Devils, and (v) survived on a deserted island through only the sustainable harvest of existing natural foods. All of these adventures have teacher curriculum guides and student workbooks and are accessible online. See here for video clips of recent expeditions.

  • Cool Schools TV: an opportunity for primary school students to tell the world what makes their school great. Students work with their classes to make a video postcard about what's good, interesting or unusual about their school, and then share this with other schools around Australia.

  • Skullbone: a new secondary school project, with the opportunity for selected school students to expand on the interactive experience above by participating in wildlife and wilderness surveys on the ground. These students in turn become real-time communicators of the experience back to the schools and communities following them online. Expeditions directly involve the real conservation management and research of properties such as Skullbone Plains (a 16,000 hectare private conservation reserve of wilderness, run by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy), as well as working with researcher on threatened species issues such as Devil Facial Tumour Disease. It is a year-long engagement for these students, from initial selection and training through to planning, preparation and undertaking the expeditions. An example follows, or see a compilation of Skullbone multimedia material here, or see the students' interactive App development here. appr
  • Coastwatchers: a blending of the Expedition Class and Skullbone projects into a 4-month circumnavigation of the coastline of Tasmania, with some 2,000 Tasmanian students and volunteers collecting and cataloguing over 36,000 pieces of plastic pollution and other pieces of marine debris - weighing nearly 2,000kg - along the way. Classes took part for days or a week at a time, interstate locations participated on their own beaches, and thousands more students watched online. You can see all of the Coastwatchers video updates with schools around Tasmanian here, and the longer versions of the longer expeditions at Recherche Bay, Flinders Island, the Tarkine Coast and the South-West Wilderness can be seen here. This project is now being expanded into a broader community and research project in partnership with the Alcorso Foundation and UTAS.  

  • Antarctica: a fantastic Antarctic Studies program, linking high school students directly with Antarctic researchers. The program offers many innovative and in-depth alternatives to traditional studies, including the opportunity for students to experience extended fly-overs of Antarctica themselves!

  • Fiji Power: an online educational competition to engage Australian high school students to create innovative renewable energy solutions for Fijian medical centres. The winning students are sent with our expert team to install their renewable power solutions in remote areas in Fiji, learning on the ground and reporting their experiences back to online school audiences watching in Australia.


  • Envirothon Australia: an older secondary environmental competition (years 11-12), where students build on the above programs to demonstrate their level of understanding of these issues and the species involved through an extra-curricular environmental competition involving detailed field tests and environmental impact assessments set at a tertiary education level. By invitation, the competition is based on a North American initiative in which 500,000 students compete each year. Our long-term aim is to field an Australian team in the North American competition. In 2011, our winning team was sent to Lord Howe Island to participate in research into the death of sea birds due to excessive plastic consumption in the Tasman Sea.

  • Summer Scholarships: a program for school leavers to 'taste test' different university level field studies (potentially gaining preliminary university academic and financial credits) to see if different types of environmental careers appeal to them. In 2011-2012, Australian Geographic partnered with this program to increase the number of national summer scholarships they were offering from 3 to 7, with 5 of them in Tasmania. The scholarship recipients participated in real-world environmental management projects, including a climate change monitoring program in the Tasmanian wilderness, on ground surveys of threatened burrowing crayfish and the giant freshwater lobster, and Tasmanian Devil conservation. Read about the students' experiences in their own words for 2012 and 2013.
  • General UTAS scholarships: a university level scholarship program, providing support to students in any discipline (whether science, arts, media, law, economics, etc) providing their work has environmental benefit/application and they are prepared to help mentor school students and communicate with the public.

  • Lynchpin - the Ocean Project: a scholarship and arts-science program that aims to communicate ocean science stories through both the research of its scholars and the arts responses that springboard out of them.

  • The Future Builders: an ongoing magazine-style multimedia series for schools on environmental research and careers for all ages. General examples can be seen here, as well compilations of specific UTAS career samples here and here.

  • STUDENT EXCHANGES & LINKAGE PROJECTS with schools and communities in THAILAND , KENYA & FIJI.


  • THE TASMANIAN ALBATROSS FUND established to ensure Tasmania’s albatross populations are understood and conserved, now and into the future. A tax deductible donation to the Tasmanian Albatross Fund will help ensure the continuation of existing long-term monitoring and conservation programs and help fund effective ongoing education and outreach initiatives.
  • SIXTEEN LEGS our new high-end cave education initiative, consisting of never-before-told scientific content, and a range of interactive content for different ages including components for Expedition Class, Project Skullbone, a public exhibition, an overarching documentary and more! 200 million years of evolution, 25 years of research and over 4 years of filming... More information can be found here and here, or watch the stunning trailer below:

NEW WEBSITE: The Bookend Trust is pleased to announce the upgrade of our online education portal at ExpeditionClass.com - visit the exciting new page for a look at our upcoming projects!


AWARDS: Bookend has won several awards for the innovation and effectiveness of these projects. These include:

  • 2016 Accolade Global Film Competition: Award of Excellence - Documentary Short - '16 LEGS: Spider Love'
  • 2016 Accolade Global Film Competition: Award of Excellence - Nature, Environment & Wildlife - '16 LEGS: Spider Love'
  • 2016 CINE Golden Eagle Finalist, 59th CINE Golden Eagle Awards, Washington - '16 LEGS: Spider Love'
  •  2016 'Ones to Watch' Awardee (Niall Doran), Screen Producers Australia
  • 2015 FrackFest: Oklahoma City's Underground Multi-Media Festival Official Selection & Finalist - '16 LEGS: Spider Love' 
  • 2015 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Official Selection & Finalist - '16 LEGS: Spider Love'  
  • 2015 New Zealand Mountain Film Festival Official Selection & Finalist - '16 LEGS: Spider Love' 
  • 2015 Tasmanian Eco Film Festival Official Selection & Finalist - 'Plastic Shoreline'
  • 2015 Award of Distinction - Australian Cinematographers Society - Joe Shemesh/'16 LEGS: Spider Love' 
  • 2014 Gold Award Winner - Australian Cinematographers Society - Joe Shemesh/'16 LEGS: Spider Love' 
  • 2014 Banff Mountain Film Festival Official Selection & Finalist - '16 LEGS: Spider Love' 
  • 2014 Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival Official Selection -  '16 LEGS: Spider Love'  
  • 2014 Official International Pitch Selection, Sunny Side of the Doc, France - 'SIXTEEN LEGS'  
  • 2014 International Changing Perspectives Film Festival Official Selection - 'Same Same But Different'
  • 2013 Awards Australia - Tasmanian Community Achievement Award: Environment
  • 2013 Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival Official Selections - 'Plastic Shoreline' and 'Magic Miles'
  • 2013 Best of The Under the Sea Film Festival Award - 'Plastic Shoreline'
  • 2013 The Under the Sea Film Festival Audience Favourite Award - 'Plastic Shoreline'
  • 2013 The Under the Sea Film Festival Official Selection & Finalist - 'Magic Miles'
  • 2013 Tasmanian Australian of the Year - Bookend's Andrew Hughes
  • 2012 Banksia Environmental Foundation Award 'for creating lasting and positive community impact'
  • 2012 Australian Geographic Society Conservationist of the Year
  • 2012 World Environment Day Award from the United Nations Association of Australia for Community Outreach
  • 2012 UTAS Vice Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Community Engagement
  • 2012 Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival inaugural "Devil" Award for Innovation
  • 2012 MediBank Active Tasmania Community Award for Coastwatchers
  • 2012 Power of One Australian Hero Award for Expedition Class and Skullbone
  • 2010 Tasmanian (EPA) Award for Environmental Excellence in Education
  • 2009 Australian Geographic Society Spirit of Adventure Award for Expedition Class
  • 2008 Pride of Australia Medal for environmental endeavor

"The judges selected the Bookend Trust from a very strong field because the program is strongly grounded in the community and is achieving inspiring environmental and personal outcomes for participants and the broader community. It is a positive example of an engaging educational model that could be applied more broadly, and the program's motto: 'we need to inspire, not terrify the next generation' is one we should all embrace whole-heartedly."

- United Nations Association of Australia: Judges' comments in awarding Bookend the 2012 World Environment Day Award for Community Outreach.


Please support our current fundraiser


Want more information?

  • See the latest summary of Bookend projects via the "Home" link below.
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  • For the very latest information, you can also find/like the "BookendTrust" page on Facebook or join the "BookEnd" group.
  • You can also follow "BookendTrust" (no space) on Twitter and YouTube, so add us today.


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The Bookend program works because people in a variety of professions donate their time, expertise and resources to make it happen. These people range from biologists to engineers to artists to designers to editors to writers to builders to photographers to IT experts and more. Whatever your field, there is something you can do to help inspire students of all ages with their future and positive environmental work. Contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Be Involved today!

  • 2016 Accolade Global Film Competition: Award of Excellence - Documentary Short - '16 LEGS: Spider Love'
  • 2016 Accolade Global Film Competition: Award of Excellence - Nature, Environment & Wildlife - '16 LEGS: Spider Love'
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