"Project: Freshwater" is an orientation experience for Built Environment students at the Queensland University of Technology. In the third week of the semester this field trip takes the First Year cohort out of their familiar urban environment and into an extraordinary natural setting for four days in order to facilitate goals of socialisation, enculturation and education. It sets the tone for the whole course, establishing a sense of belonging and group identity amongst the design disciplines (industrial design, architecture and interior design), breaking down traditional staff/student barriers. Students develop an awareness of each other as emerging professionals and an awareness of the cultural diversity and a sense of community possible within the university environment. Through presentation and discussion of the context, structure and content of the programme and it’s five year evolution this paper explores the educational objectives of: the development of visual and verbal communication skills; experiencing design thinking through practical discovery; promoting interdisciplinary thinking and approaches to design; promoting independence in personal and group learning skills; and introducing concepts of enhanced environmental awareness and product life cycles as informers of design intention. The long term impact on students, future plans and suggestions for others thinking of implementing such a programme are discussed.