In the fall of 2017, I touched down in Australia to dive the Great Barrier Reef and to see the Australia I had heard so much about. Since I'm a reef junkie, I quickly hopped on a tourist dive and snorkel boat and headed out to the Great Barrier Reef. After only a few hours on the reef, I was disappointed. 

The boat got good reviews, but the experience was...predictable. Myself and ten other people were taken around a reef and then dumped back on the boat. The divemaster quickly disappeared. Where was the post-dive briefing of what we saw and what the reef could teach us? 

The next dive was more of the same. The  divemaster pointed out...nothing. My big day on the Great Barrier reef was reduced to just another day on a typical dive and snorkel boat. I was a tourist getting the same day in and day out off-the-shelf experience that everyone gets. 

Back on land, I was determined not to have the rest of my trip be a crapshoot of places that I compiled off positive internet reviews.  Looking for insider information, I recruited a local to show me the side of Australia that few knew.

The next few days filled my camera with memories that will last a lifetime as well as crossed off items on my bucket list. I held Koalas, I scouted platypus and got to feed animals that exist no where else in Australia, let alone the world. I was introduced to a private yacht that took a select group of BBC and IMAX film crews to the Great Barrier Reef. A local foodie took me to the best restaurants and showed me exactly what to eat off the elaborate menus. At the end of my trip, I was taken to Cairns Marine, Australia's biggest collector and exporter of fish and coral, for a private shopping day.

By the time I boarded my flight back to the United States, I was physically tired from my surf and turf tour, yet excited to put together a trip of a life time for a select few.

Collect Your Own Fish and Coral From The Great Barrier Reef Via Private Yacht and Experience the Mainland Activities Only the Locals Know

In 2019 I'm Expanding The Most Popular Segment Of My VIP Trip

Trip Dates:

October 13th - Oct 21st, 2019

The "surf and turf" Australia tour combines land and sea activities, to satisfy reef junkies and their non-reef junkie traveling companions.

Sunday, Oct 13th: Arrive in Cairns, Australia and meet up with your fellow travelers for a kick-off dinner

Monday, Oct 14th: Private coach will transport you to nearby Cairns for a behind-the-scenes tour of Australia's leading exporter, Cairns Marine. 

You never know what you'll find at Cairns Marine. From fish and coral for your reef tank, to sharks to sawfish to breeding endangered turtles, Carins Marine has it all. We'll have the place to ourselves and you are welcome to pick fish and coral for your tank. 

Once you've admired the eye candy and done your shopping at Cairns Marine, the private coach will take you to the newly opened Carins Aquarium in downtown Cairns. 

The rest of the afternoon will be spent in downtown Cairns where you can do last minute shopping. The group will rejoin for dinner where you can sample the best prawns I've ever tasted.

Tuesday, Oct 15th: The private coach will take you to the world's oldest rainforest - the Daintree Rainforest. You'll experience plants and animals only found in Australia with a private tour guide leading the way. After lunch, you'll be taken on a river tour to experience the rainforest from the water.

After dinner, you'll board the Great Barrier Reef's newest custom charter  - the 96 foot ARGO. 

Alternative arrangements can be made for participants wishing to remain on land. Helicopter transfer from Cairns to ARGO is available for an additional price.

Wednesday, Oct 16th: When you emerge from your private cabin, you'll be on the Great Barrier Reef on a pre-scouted dive and snorkel site. Breakfast will be served by the boat's chef and the dive and snorkel gear will be waiting. The rest of the day will be spent diving and snorkling and seeing the Great Barrier Reef the rest of the world misses. 

Location: Cairns, Australia

Joining us on the trip professional fish collector, Lyle Squires. Lyle grew up on the Great Barrier Reef and he knows each reef intimately. He can tell you which fish populate each reef, where to find them, the hidden parts of the reef you'd likely miss and he'll teach you how to collect fish by hand. 

Once the fishing is done, dinner is served from the fresh fish the spear fishers find. The only way to eat fresher fish is to eat it underwater!

Thursday, Oct 17th: Day two of the Great Barrier Reef leg of the trip will continue to different sections of reef. Lyle will continue to refine your reef education and Laura will complete the day with snorkels along the reef tops. Each location will fill your brain visual and education about how the different reefs interact on the Great Barrier Reef.

Friday, Oct 18th: New for 2019, I've added an extra day on the Great Barrier Reef. Day three on the GBR will be spent diving, snorkeling, eating well and returning to land at the end of the day.

Saturday, Oct 19th, You'll leave the ocean behind and head to the often overlooked Australian table lands via cable tram.  Here you'll find the world-famous termite hills, granite gorges, and the chance to hold one of the cutest creatures on earth - Koalas. Dinner will be served at Nick's Restaurant, a funky place that is overlooked by everyone but the locals. 

After dinner get ready for more Australian wildlife as you view Sugar Gliders and Flying foxes from a private viewing platform while sipping wine and chatting with your fellow trip participants. 

Sunday, Oct 20th, The tablelands have much more to show including a bat hospital, crystal clear lakes, curtain fig trees and when the sun sets - platypus viewing. 

Monday, Oct 21st, No need to set an alarm today, you can sleep in! After brunch, the private coach will transport you to Cairns Airport for transport back to your home.

Because of exclusive connections, you'll have the chance at

the ultimate bragging rights - collecting fish for your

aquarium from the Great Barrier Reef.

Based on feedback from past trip participants, I'm adding an additional dive and snorkel day on the Great Barrier Reef for no additional cost. You'll have extra day to dive, snorkel and collect fish and coral from the most famous reef in the world.

Your Host & Accompanying Experts

Mr Saltwater Tank Headshot

There is a central theme in my life: water. In 1989, I got my first saltwater tank and was forever hooked on having part of the ocean in my care. In 1995, I became a SCUBA diver and got the joy of seeing the animals in my tank in their natural habitat. The ocean once again captured my attention and I wanted more. Now I get to bring part of the ocean to the world by taking the confusion out of owning a saltwater tank through my show, Mr. Saltwater Tank TV. 

With over 380 episodes resulting in over 14 million views, countless talks to reef clubs, saltwater aquarium trade shows and a select clientele base, I've seen a lot of fish and coral in captivity. Now I'll show you mother nature's reef tank and how you can take what you see and apply it to your tank.

 Trip Host: Mark Callahan, "Mr. Saltwater Tank"

Lyle Squires

Lyle is an Carins boy who spent his youth following his dad on collecting trips to the Great Barrier Reef and inland Australia. Regarded as a world expert in aquatic life collecting, husbandry and transport, Lyle has expanded the family legacy of making Carins Marine the top collector and exporter of aquatic life in Australia. 

His vast experiences means he's full of wild stories including swimming with saltwater crocodiles and dealing with inquisitive sea snakes while collecting fish. 

Laura is the curator for Cairns Marine, the largest fish and coral exporter in Australia. She has more than 27 years experience in husbandry and operations of public aquaria. Laura‚Äôs role at Cairns Marine is to oversee husbandry operations, develop new projects and work closely with her many public aquarium colleagues domestically and internationally. Laura can ID just about everything on the reef, give you the run down on it's behavior, and I'm excited she will be joining us again in Fiji.

Laura Simmons

About the Boat

ARGO meets my criteria for the trip in the following key areas:

  1. Private...only our group and the crew will be on board
  2. Local-only knowledge of the great dive sites
  3. Luxurious...professional chef on board and attentive staff to pamper you

ARGO is meant to take scientist and film crews to the best dive and snorkel sites on the Great Barrier Reef. When the BBC is in town, they call ARGO. When IMAX wants a film on the Great Barrier Reef, they call ARGO.  If the general public wanted to get on ARGO, they'd have to rent the entire boat. Therefore, only the crew and our group will be on board. 

ARGO is on the Great Barrier Reef frequently, so the crew knows the good dive sites. The "hot" reefs change from month to month and we'll have the latest information on where to go. 

Since the boat is there for our exclusive use, we can change the itinerary based on the group's tastes. Want to see an near-shore reef? Middle reef? Continental Shelf reef? Each reef provides a unique experience and the crew will give us the latest feedback on which is best for our group's tastes. 

In addition to the essential crew, a professional chef will be on board to keep our bellies full. He will also adapt meals as there will be a spear fisher on board to bring back the best eating game fish on the reef. 

An experienced dive master will be on board keeping a watch over the group and to coach inexperienced divers as well. Snorkelers will have guided swims as well.

No need to make your bed either, a staff member is in charge of keeping rooms clean and the boat tidy so you can enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. The crew will even do your laundry for you!

Trip Pricing

  • Nine day tour of Australia
  • All meals (alcohol not included)
  • All tours
  • All accommodations 
  • All diving and snorkeling including gear rental
  • All bus transfers
  • All applicable Australian taxes and surcharges

Pricing based on double occupancy. Single Occupancy rates are available.

Payment Schedule: 

$1,500.00 USD due at booking, Balance broken into equal monthly payments, balance due in full by June 1st, 2019

Chose your cabin type to continue to booking:


  1. Deposits and any payments made after February 15th, 2019 are non-refundable .
  2. Shipping/export fees apply to any fish or coral shipped out of Australia.
  3. This is an adults-only tour. No children under the age of 18 allowed.
  4. I highly recommend trip insurance. Contact me for more details.

VIP Private Cabin, Private Bathroom - $6,997.00 Early booking discount: $6,697.00 USD per person, double occupancy - ONLY 1 left!

Private Cabin, Shared Bathroom - $6,797.00 Early booking discount: $6,497.00 USD per person, double occupancy - ONLY 1 left!

Super Saver Special - Private Cabin, Shared Bathroom, Single bunks in cabin - $6,597.00 Early booking discount: $6,297.00 USD per person, double occupancy - ONLY 1 available

Pricing includes:

Questions? Reach me here

Copyright 2019 Mr. Saltwater Tank