Being a volunteer for the Turtle Conservation Program in Australia with Volunteering Solutions, you'll get to protect the threatened and endangered marine life in this part of the world. Animals are brought in suffering from disease and/or injuries caused by boats, discarded fishing gear or ingested plastic that is mistaken for food. Many of the turtles brought in from the Great Barrier Reef are suffering from 'floaters disease'. This disease causes air to be trapped between the shell and body impacting the animal’s ability to dive and feed itself. If left unaided the animal will eventually either starve to death or become easy prey for larger predators such as sharks or crocodiles.
Volunteers would get an incredible opportunity to work with professional conservationists and assist them in their work. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 3,000 kilometers. This is your chance to take up the cause, be a responsible traveler and volunteer to protect Mother Nature. No matter whether you're a high school/ college student, gap year traveler or backpacker, it'll be a great learning journey too.
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. You need to have an open mind and a flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. The volunteer should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference. Participants must be fit and healthy at the time of joining the program. Every volunteer is required to show proof of Tetanus vaccination prior to joining the program. The program is suitable for those with a keen interest in marine life and conservation. Participants should be able to work in hot, wet and/or humid weather depending upon the season.
Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities
Volunteers undertake a five-day working week from Monday to Friday, however, they can request to work weekends. Your daily activities may consist of:
- Preparing food for the turtles
- Feeding the turtles
- Cleaning the turtle tanks and filter bags
- Scrubbing algae off the turtle’s backs
- Providing enrichment for the turtles
- Maintaining and repairing turtle tanks
- Keeping the project grounds clean and tidy
Other activities may include:
- Attending a turtle release, but thee only happen once a year
- Helping to promote humane and sustainable practices through co-operation and education initiatives
- Fundraising (Cairns markets, handing out leaflets)
Volunteer Work Schedule
Volunteers take a ferry ride to an island off Cairns. Here they will spend the morning at the Rehabilitation Centre.
The general schedule is as follows:-
7.30 AM - Be at the Reef Terminal
7.45 AM-8.30 AM - Ferry ride to the island
8.30 AM – 12.00 PM - Caring for the turtles
12 PM – onwards - Lunch and return to Cairns (you will be notified each day of the return time – between 12 pm and 5 pm)
The majority of your time will be spent cleaning and feeding turtles and their tanks. It is important that volunteers must be willing to work and show initiative as there are specific tasks that need to be completed each day prior to all of the volunteers leaving for the day.
Volunteers need to arrive at Cairns International Airport (Airport Code: CNS) between 8 am to 8 pm on Sunday. You will be provided with a discounted shuttle code to get you to the hostel accommodation.
On Monday morning, volunteers will meet the program staff and board the ferry to the island and will be given an orientation there. Volunteers will be introduced to each turtle in care, given an orientation around the center and guided about the work to do. In case of any help needed, our coordinators will be available.
Volunteers would be staying at a hostel accommodation in central Cairns. Volunteers are allocated a 6-bed male or female dorm room with a shared bathroom. If you would like to upgrade to a single, double, twin, family room or a room (some with ensuites) - you can write to us and we can arrange for the same. The accommodation is centrally located and has excellent facilities available such as a swimming pool, wifi, communal kitchen, and a large outdoor area. Good restaurants and cafes are located in close proximity to the hostel.
Breakfast is included daily at the hostel accommodation. There are grocery stores and supermarkets in the area if you would like to buy your own food supplies and use the fully equipped kitchen at the hostel. At the end of the day’s work on the Island, it is nice to sit at the restaurant and have a cool drink.
You can prepare your own lunch and take it with you to the island as well. A free Sunday evening BBQ is also arranged at the hostel every week.
Cairns is full of restaurants and eateries so there is an abundance of options to meet everyone’s dietary requirements.
During Your Free Time
After the workday is completed, you are free to do as you please. If you are on the island, you will finish the turtle tasks usually before 12.00 pm leaving the rest of the day as free time. This free time will be either on the Island or back in Cairns, depending on your return ferry time.
The island facilities include a diving school, restaurant, bar, walking trails, glass-bottom tours, kayaking, and snorkeling. Volunteers may use the water sports equipment for a fee - snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, etc, while a favorite pastime is sunbaking on the coral beach (remember your sunscreen!). If you are swimming during the stinger season, you can hire a stinger suit. If you are wanting to swim more than 1 day, we recommend purchasing a cheap stinger suit on the internet.
Please Note: -An application fee of $199 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of £149 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of $259 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of €169 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment)
What are you Paying for?
- Pre-departure support
- Project Information Booklet
- Project orientation
- Training Field equipment and materials
- Return daily transfers from Cairns to the island
- Accommodation in Cairns (unless not required)
- Breakfast (with Cairns accommodation included option only)
- 24-hour in-country support
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)
What's NOT included?
- Transfers from Cairns airport to central Cairns
- Travel insurance
- Personal spending
FAQ's Application and Program Details
As we have limited spots available in our programs and we facilitate on ‘first come first serve’ basis, it is recommended that potential volunteers book their programs well in advance to get confirmed placements. You can book your slot by filling out the application form online and pay the application fee of $250 + bank charges. You can pay your program fee later and also, in installments, however, the complete payment should be made 45 days prior to the starting date of the program. If you are volunteering in a group, you can also fill a group application form.
Below are the necessary requirements to participate in the Australian volunteer projects :
– The minimum age requirement for the volunteers is 18 years and above.
– Need to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment.
– The volunteer should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.
– Participant must be in good health.
We encourage our participants to volunteer in a group. We take special care in providing you a placement and also customize your itinerary to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Also, we can design special group programs for groups of 5 or more. Our programs are designed to be safe, affordable and offer a great group volunteering experience to the volunteers.
In our experience of more than 12+ years, we have enabled and facilitated volunteer program placements for student groups- college groups, university groups, high school groups, group of families, group of couples as well as a group of colleagues.
Visit Group Volunteering page for more information.
Volunteering Solutions provides placement to volunteers in different cities of Australia. The preference of the city should be specified in the application form. The available program locations are:
- Rural Gladstone
The amount of contact volunteers have with the animals is dependent upon the project. Some are very hands on and others have limited contact.
All volunteers are required to arrive at the nearest airports at their preferred location in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney. The Australian programs are located near Melbourne, Sydney, Gladstone and Cairns Airports.
Yes, we will provide you with the Certificate after successful completion of your program. The certificate is provided on request.
Flights and Visa
More information shall be provided after you become a Volunteering Solutions enrolled participant.
Health and Safety
We recommend you consult your physician or travel doctor before travelling to Australia.
Generally the following vaccinations are recommended for travellers going to Australia :
– Yellow Fever (Required if travelling from a YFV infected country)
– Hepatitis A and B
Connect with Past Volunteers
To read alumni interviews from past participants, visit the Meet a Volunteer section on our website.
Accommodation and Living
Accommodation will vary according to each project location. Typical accommodation includes volunteer houses, caravans, hostels, and bunkhouses. Volunteers are allotted accommodation on a sharing basis.
Yes, however you must inform us in advance and also mention about any dietary requirement in your application form.
However, you should carry around $70-80 per week for your basic personal expenses. This amount can vary and you would need a higher amount if you go on weekend sightseeing tours.
Plenty of money exchange counters and ATMs are available in Australia. at the airport as well in most Australian cities.
Volunteers work for 3 to 8 hours a day depending on their program. However, volunteers need to be flexible, open-minded and understand that work requirements can change as well on certain occasions.