10 reasons you should ditch the big smoke to study in north Queensland

10 reasons you should ditch the big smoke to study in north Queensland

10 reasons you should ditch the big smoke to study in north Queensland

Thinking of studying in Australia but have no idea where to live? Ditch the city and move to paradise instead! Choosing to study in the regional cities of Cairns or Townsville can lead to a variety of life changing experiences, all without breaking the bank. James Cook University (JCU), can help you enjoy the international student experience of a lifetime.

1.  Live next to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Photo: Yanguan Lan, Unsplash

Voted second only to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most spectacular natural phenomena Australia has to offer. The best part? You could live and study right at its doorstep!

The Reef stretches over 2,300km from the Cape York Peninsula at the very top of Australia down to Bundaberg in the south – making it visible from space.

Living in Cairns or Townsville means you can see it for yourself from one of the hundreds of boats that leave for the Reef every day. When you’re there, you can see an awe-inspiring array of fish, rays, sharks, mammals, turtles, coral, clams and crustaceans.

Even better, why not study a degree which could lead you to work with ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef? JCU offer courses in environmental science, marine biology and marine science, which allow you to study on-site in this gorgeous setting.

2.  Enjoy the world’s oldest living rainforest


Photo: Ben Britten, Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Living and studying in north Queensland means taking classes surrounded by lush rainforest and bushland. In fact, both of our campuses are surrounded by it. However, did you know that just north of Cairns lies the world’s oldest living rainforest?

The World Heritage-listed Daintree rainforest is an estimated 180 million years old – tens of millions of years older than the Amazon rainforest. It supports 800 species of vertebrates and over 5,000 species of plants. You might even get to spot the elusive cassowary – one of Australia’s largest animals.

JCU has a research station called the Daintree Rainforest Observatory (DRO), located in the forest. It allows students to visit and study the area hands-on, both in and out of the on-site laboratories. There’s also a 47m crane which can take you above the canopy. Pretty awesome, if you ask us!

3.  The great Aussie outback is calling


Photo: Tobias Keller, Unsplash

With the Reef to the east and the rainforest to the north, where do you end up when you head out west?

Answer: The great Australian outback – a vast and unspoiled piece of true, natural Aussie beauty.

You might even get a chance to head out as part of your degree at JCU. The University owns a working cattle station 98km southwest of Townsville, where Veterinary Science, Ecology, Botany and Geology students are welcome to visit and conduct research.

4.  Island hop your way around the region

Magnetic Island

Photo: Bethany Keats, JCU

You may have heard of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, but did you know that there are loads of other island hopping destinations within arm’s reach of the region?

Townsville students can gain easy access to Magnetic Island and Orpheus Island. JCU runs a research centre on Orpheus Island where students can volunteer to help researchers learn about the amazing fauna around the area.

Cairns students can enjoy the pristine beauty of Green Island and Fitzroy Island, where the JCU-supported Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) is located. You can even volunteer to help the sick and injured turtles there on your spare weekend!

5.  Forge lifelong friendships from all over the world


Photo: Seth Doyle, Unsplash

Worried about moving overseas alone? Have no fear – there’s a variety of on-campus accommodation available to international students at JCU, where you’ll be able to forge lifelong friendships with students from all over the world.

Also, the small class sizes and community feel of our campuses ensure you’ll not only make friends quickly, but you’ll create a network of people to help support you throughout your studies.

6.  Put your skills to work in a charming rural town


Photo: Samuel Scrimshaw, Unsplash

Thinking of studying a degree with placement opportunities? Get out of your comfort zone and go practice your new skills in a rural town!

Many JCU courses require practical placements in order to complete your degree. With the University’s unique focus on rural, remote and Indigenous health and wellbeing, you can find yourself actively helping these communities and putting theory to practice in one of Australia’s many hidden gems.

Who knows where you might go? You could work in places such as Cape York, Mount Isa, Port Stephens or Thursday Island. Your opportunities are varied and vast.

7.  Get up close and personal with our amazing wildlife


Photo: Michael Waters, Unsplash

Have you ever wanted to cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo or smile at a crocodile? You can tick all of it off your bucket list when you live in north Queensland.

The north Queensland region is abundant in wildlife and is considered one of the most biodiverse areas in Australia – so much that you’ll likely do some spotting on JCU’s grounds. Many students have shared their stories of seeing kangaroos, wallabies and goannas on-campus as they walk to class.

If you’re interested in working with animals, JCU has you covered. With courses in Zoology and Ecology and Veterinary Science, you can learn about animals and wildlife every day. The best bit? You won’t be stuck in a classroom for the whole time – you’ll get to go out into the wild and learn about these creatures hands-on.

As a bonus, you can even come face to face with a stunning variety of Australia’s native animals outside of the classroom too. Go for a drive to the bush or rainforest, or visit one of the region’s many wildlife sanctuaries for a guaranteed sighting.

8.  Make the most of your semester breaks

Dirt road and car

Photo: Forrest Cavale, Unsplash

If you’re worried that living all the way up north will isolate you from the rest of our brilliant country, have no fear! Getting around is easy.

Cairns has an international airport which flies to over 10 countries, as well as a number of great Australian cities. Townsville also has an international airport linking the city to Bali, Indonesia. An array of domestic destinations are also available. Low cost airlines operate throughout Australia too, meaning you can explore other great cities in your semester break for a minimal cost.

You can also take full advantage of your semester breaks by planning your dream road trip.

9.  Travel overseas as part of your study

Plane wing

Photo: Louis Magnotti, Unsplash

Fancy experiencing a new culture or learning a new language? Use your degree as an opportunity to travel the world!

JCU has over 60 partner universities across Asia, Europe, North America, South America, the Pacific and South Africa. In addition, you can spend one or two semesters at JCU’s Singapore campus, where you can enjoy the Tropics in a cosmopolitan setting. There may also be international placement opportunities offered through your selected degree.

If you’re not so keen on spending a large chunk of time overseas, there are plenty of short-term travel opportunities available as well.

10.  Earn a world-class degree while you’re at it!


Photo: Baim Hanif, Unsplash

James Cook University is ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide*. We have over 22,000 students, including 7,500 international students from over 100 countries. Students can choose to study at one of our three campuses, which span across two countries – Cairns, Townsville and Singapore.

The University offers courses in a variety of fields, from Anthropology to Zoology. We enjoy world-class rankings in 35 fields of research**, and have been consistently awarded five stars for graduate job success over the past five years by the Good Universities Guide.

If you choose to study at JCU in north Queensland, you’ll not only have the time of your life, but you’ll also earn a valuable degree to take home and be ready to join the workforce straight afterwards.

So what are you waiting for? Get ready for the study experience of a lifetime, and don’t forget to pack sunscreen! Discover more by speaking with our dedicated international team

*ARWU, 2016
**Excellence in Research Australia (ERA), 2015

Cover image: Georg Wolf, Unsplash

Published 10 May 2019