Transform your travels: 8 amazing Aussie wildlife volunteer experiences

Love Aussie wildlife and want to do your bit to give back? Adding a few days of volunteering to your next holiday could be the perfect way to do your bit for the environment, explore new parts of the country and get out into nature.

By Carolyn Tate

Want a more fulfilling holiday - how about volunteering?

If you're looking for a holiday that offers more than just sightseeing and relaxation - not that there’s anything wrong with that - you might like to consider combining volunteering with your next getaway. Volunteering holidays give you the chance to immerse yourself in a new culture, contribute to meaningful projects, help the environment, and make lasting memories.

Here are some fantastic volunteer holiday ideas that combine travel with a sense of purpose:

 1. Ningaloo Turtle Program, Western Australia

The Ningaloo Turtle Program offers a unique opportunity to help protect marine turtles and their natural habitat. Volunteers participate in monitoring and research activities, including recording turtle nesting behaviours and collecting data on turtle populations. The program runs from November to March, aligning with the turtle nesting season.

Volunteers who have joined the program say they love the hands-on experience and the chance to contribute to marine conservation while enjoying the stunning beaches of Ningaloo Reef. Why not combine it with an adventure holiday swimming with the whale sharks?

Cost: $1,300 including accommodation, meals and training.

More info: Ningaloo Turtle Program

2. Volunteer with dolphins at Monkey Mia, Western Australia

What could be more fun than working with dolphins? In Monkey Mia, you can do just that by volunteering in the stunning Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Help manage the Monkey Mia Reserve and assist with the dolphin experience, including feeding dolphins, collecting data, and maintaining the beachfront.

Volunteering hours are from 7am to 12pm, and you must commit to at least five days, with a maximum of two weeks.

Cost: free - you take care of your own expenses and you have free entry to Monkey Mia for the duration of your volunteer period.

More info: Shark Bay

3. Arnhem Land Marine Debris Project, Northern Territory

The Arnhem Land Marine Debris Project focuses on cleaning up marine debris from the NT coastline. You can join them for a 6 day stint to help collect and categorise debris, contributing to data that informs marine conservation efforts now and into the future, helping to protect marine life and maintain the pristine and remote landscapes of the Cobourg Peninsula.

Cost: $680, including food, accommodation, and transportation within the project area.

More info: Conservation Volunteers

4. Brookfield Conservation Park, South Australia

Passionate about protecting wildlife and maybe getting some up-close-and-personal experience too? You might want to join the work at Brookfield Conservation Park, where you can work on various conservation projects to protect local wildlife, including the endangered southern hairy-nosed wombat. Activities include habitat restoration, wildlife monitoring, and pest control, and you can choose from a Wombat Weekend or a five-day wildlife survey.

Cost: $80-$520 including accommodation and meals.

More info: Brookfield Conservation Park 

Protect the endangered southern hairy-nosed wombat through habitat restoration

5. Conservation Volunteers Australia

Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) has a variety of volunteer opportunities across the country, from tree planting and habitat restoration to wildlife surveys and community education. You can choose from short-term projects to longer commitments, depending on your availability and interests - but whatever you choose, you’ll know you’re having a positive impact on the environment.

Cost: vary according to the project, covering food, accommodation, and travel expenses.

More info: Conservation Volunteers Australia

6. Australian Wildlife Conservancy, various locations

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) offers volunteer opportunities at various wildlife sanctuaries across Australia. You can help with tasks like wildlife monitoring, habitat management, and scientific research. This program is perfect for those who want to contribute to the conservation of Australia's unique biodiversity.

Cost: varies but includes accommodation, meals, and training

More info: Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC)

7. Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Fitzroy Island, Queensland 

Want a turtle volunteer experience on the east coast? 

The Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre works to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured and sick marine turtles. Volunteers stay for a week to help with daily care routines, including feeding, cleaning tanks, and monitoring the health of the turtles. Work on this project is an important part of the effort towards recovery and conservation of these marine creatures.

The costs involve a participation fee that covers accommodation and meals. Volunteers find the experience incredibly rewarding and appreciate the opportunity to learn about marine biology and turtle conservation.

Cost: $1,050 including shared accommodation.

More info: No Limit Adventures

Sick sea turtle being rehabilitated at Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Fitzroy Island, Queensland

8. Support remote communities, various outback locations

Outback links has been connecting volunteers with people in remote Australia who need practical support for decades. Volunteers help with various tasks, including caretaking, property maintenance, gardening, painting, and general farm support. This program provides an opportunity for everyone to make a meaningful difference and to offer whatever skills you have to help someone who needs them.

Cost: to be discussed with your host but usually minimal - just getting yourself to where you can help.

More info: Frontier Services

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