Telling the Earth’s Stories


1Savannah Guides Limited, Cairns, Australia

In a world muddled by fantasy, fake news and marketing hyperbole, the stories of the earth provide people with a core reality and true sense of perspective. 

Our increasing understanding of our world, from core to cosmos, should be shared with a wide range of audiences and celebrated to build the understanding and engagement of tourists, students and local community custodians.

However, storytelling is challenging.  The complexity and span of earth sciences is daunting to the lay person and simplifying concepts and terminology can blur meaning.

The science of storytelling provides some insights into how this can be approached. Linking earth’s processes to our audience’s life experiences, harnessing emotion and description, and finding interactive ways to stimulate synapses in the brains of our listeners can provide pathways to understanding and memorable lessons.

Savannah Guides is a network of over 500 tour guides and tourism operators around Australia, the “Protectors and Interpreters of the Outback”, including the Undara Lava Tubes, Capricorn Caves, El Questro Station, Cobbold Gorge and other geological wonders.  The organisation provides training and professional development at field schools and through online platforms, provides linkages to Protected Area Managers, researchers and Traditional Owners, and delivers workshops on guiding skills including interpretation and storytelling.

Savannah Guides has worked since 1988 to build the geotourism message and connect more people with their world.  It is now engaged with the National Geotourism Strategy and its associated stakeholders, and has ongoing involvement in supporting several regions to develop their geoscience stories.

This presentation will provide examples of these collaborations and some of the storytelling techniques that have captivated guests, as well as providing examples of how geoscientists can better connect with the wider community through tourism.


Russell Boswell is the Manager of Savannah Guides, a network of over 500 tour guides and tourism operators. He specialises in tourism experience development, marketing and interpretation.  A former secondary and vocational teacher, Russell delivers tourism training and projects across Australia.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.