When you are considering spending your gap year in Australia there are plenty of choices regarding what you can spend your time doing. Volunteering can be an amazing experience: you can learn new skills, meet lots of interesting and varied people and actually make a positive contribution to a project, community or habitat. If you are looking for an adventure, Australia is the perfect destination. With its mountains, rainforests, deserts, coral reefs and many activities, you won’t be disappointed.
Volunteering is a good way to visit Australia for on a budget. Usually your expenses such as food and accommodation will be paid for you while you volunteer abroad, although flights are not typically included.
Conservation volunteering is becoming more and more popular and Australia has plenty of opportunities for this. It is a country with a very diverse ecology and many unique plants and animals. Projects to protect and nurture these exceptional creatures are always looking for eager volunteers. You can get involved with habitat-protection projects around the Great Barrier Reef, join the battle against invasive weeds at Uluru or help out with feeding time at a wildlife sanctuary such as Kangaroo Island – the possibilities are almost endless.
If hands-on labour rather than animals is more your thing, you also have plenty of choice. The Red Cross regularly looks for volunteers to train so that they have experienced people on hand to deal with any disasters that may happen. Various organisations need volunteers for projects all over Australia, from building community centres to repairing roads or boardwalks. Tree planting on reforestation projects or clearing litter in National Parks help towards maintaining the amazing biodiversity that Australia is famous for. Building and maintaining boardwalks and fences enables people to access the wildlife without damaging it.
You can also go for the independent route and use a labour-exchange site. People offer board and maybe a minimal wage in return for you helping out in their business. This is a particularly good way to get a cheap ranching holiday but there are also many other kinds of jobs and activities on offer.
Anyone heading out to Australia in search of adventure will not be disappointed. The diverse habitat supports a huge range of exciting activities, from crocodile watching to trail biking and climbing. You’ll be kept busy from dawn until dusk and often far into the night. You can take to the waves on Bondi Beach, go diving on the Great Barrier Reef, trek through the rainforest or across the outback or white-water-raft through gorges and canyons. For the real adrenalin junkies, there is skydiving over Cairns and bungee jumping from high bridges. Relax a little and watch the sun set over Uluru or the Bungle Bungles, then take a trip out to Fraser Island for a four-wheel-drive tour and a night spent camping under the stars.
Many companies offer tours that take you all over Australia and you can combine volunteering and activities to get a great all-round picture of Australia, including visiting indigenous people and spending time absorbing their culture and traditions. So whether you are heading to Australia in search of sun, sea and activity or looking to get some karma points by becoming a volunteer abroad, you are bound to find what you seek in the land down under.