Perched on the Great Barrier Reef 270km north of Cairns, Lizard Island is a tropical paradise.
The white sands, clear water and pristine reef teeming with marine life are enough to entice anyone to explore the world around them.
But these explorers aren't holiday-makers – they are RMIT University students undertaking field work as part of a special hands-on course based at the Lizard Island Research Station.
The work they do is part of the Field Practicum at Lizard Island Research Station elective and will guide their assignments for the following semester.
Associate Professor Gale Spring, Adjunct Professor in the School of Applied Sciences said the course attracts students from a diverse range of backgrounds, not just from the biological sciences.
"We've had students from other programs, such as arts programs," Spring said.
"Originally this was set up to be half-scientific photography and half-marine biology."
Although the appeal of the week-long course is apparent, the motivations of each student are wide and varied.
Some have a passion in marine biology while others view it as a golden opportunity to expand their horizons and experience something new during the winter break.
Bachelor of Science (Applied Sciences) student, Andrea Prouse said she thought it was a really unique way to do an elective.
"I came to Lizard Island because of my interests, but I also thought it would be a great way to do a subject,” Prouse said.
"The field trip is different to being on campus; while we're here we are constantly studying the subject matter.
"It's intensive, but at the same time the experience is much more relaxed because it's not so formal."
The course aims to give students the experience and skills required to undertake and report on a survey of the reef.
Snorkelling and hiking give students both close-up and distant perspectives of the marine environment and the flora and fauna it contains.
Bachelor of Environmental Science student, Justin Cerabona said although they do a biological survey, it's more than that.
"I think it's more that we're here to see things that we see in the lab, out in the field,” Cerabona said.
"We're here to see the animals and plants that we study in their native habitats and not under the microscope or being dissected."
Marianne Pearce is one of a handful of people who live on the island to support the research station.
She has seen many groups from RMIT visit, along with research students and scientists conducting studies on the island, and knows how valuable and enjoyable the experience can be.
"The students can really see what's out there and give them an idea of what they might want to study," Pearce said.
"No-one ever wants to leave."