Experiencing Australia as a Volunteer
Conservation Groups Welcome Volunteers
Volunteer and experience Australia. The main conservation organization in Australia, the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers, accepts large numbers of volunteers to help on its 1,500 projects around the country including tree planting, erosion control, seed collection, track maintenance, surveying endangered flora and fauna, and habitat and heritage restoration. A fee covers transportation, food, and accommodations in caravans, hostels, shearers huts, bunkhouses, or tents. Further details are available from the ATCV National Office, Box 423, Ballarat, Victoria 3353; 011-03-5333-1483. www.conservationvolunteers.com.au
If you have a background in marine biology or you are a scuba diver you may want to volunteer with one of the marine research stations along the coast of Queensland. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is located in a national park at Cape Ferguson, 50 kilometers from Townsville in Queensland (PMB No. 3, Townsville Mail Centre, Qld 4810; 011-61-7-4753-4240; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.aims.gov.au). AIMS runs a visitor scheme and a program for volunteers with appropriate skills. For example, qualified scuba divers accompany research trips, often to assess damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Overseas applicants must have a working visa and medical certificate.
The Heron Island Research Station (Great Barrier Reef, via Gladstone, Qld 4680) has been known to offer free accommodations in exchange for about four hours of work a day. For other possibilities contact the relevant departments of James Cook Univ. or the Univ. of Queensland at St Lucia (Brisbane).
For land-based opportunities, a research station in northern Queensland operated by the Australian Tropical Research Foundation (PMB 5, Cape Tribulation, Qld 4873; 011-61-7-40-98-00 63; email@example.com, www.austrop.org.au) welcomes over 50 volunteers a year to carry out tasks like caring for a resident population of flying foxes (large bats). Volunteers are expected to work long hours around the research station and must pay to cover basic expenses.
New South Wales
The National Parks & Wildlife Service of New South Wales does not run a structured volunteer program, so in this state of tremendous environmental contrasts and 68 National Parks it is better to concentrate your efforts on exploring rather than on volunteering.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (43 Bridge St., Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia, www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au) can provide further information if you have a specific interest in certain habitats, wildlife, or zoology. Once in Sydney you can pick up the detailed Guide to NSW National Parks from the NPWS office in Cadmans Cottage, 110 George St. in The Rocks (011-61 2-9247-5033). Park rangers run a Discovery program of guided activities such as rockpool rambles and snorkeling expeditions. Details are available at their web site, or by phoning 1300 36 1967 (within Australia).