New year, new you? While most folk spend January promising to make a clean start to their health, we think there’s room for making a clean heart, especially when it comes to holidays. This year, why not schedule a getaway where the object is to give away? Whether it be your time or skill, here are eight ways to have your vacation stamped with a clean conscience … and a bit of fun, too.
Dig a Dinosaur in Winton
Bring history back to life by dusting off the bony bits of a 20 million year old monster of the past at The Australian Age of Dinosaurs, the fastest dinosaur production factory in the Southern Hemisphere. Since the bones were first discovered a few dozen years ago, the good fossil experts out at Winton have amassed more than 40 crates filled with creatures just waiting for the ultimate Leggo makeover. All you have to do is complete a 10 day “Prep-a-Dino” course and then you get to tackle a long-lost Queensland giant and help preserve ancient history.
Meet a Minke Whale
First discovered in the 1980s, there’s a lot more that researchers need to know about the Minke Whales. So snap on a wetsuit and tank and board Eye-to-Eye Marine Encounters or Mike Ball Minke Whale Expedition and dive the reef while observing one of the most magical marine creatures now known to man. All those behaviours you see and the pics you take go toward compiling data on the new species. All aboard!
Clean up the Whitsundays with Eco Barge Clean Seas
Go right to the heart of some of Australia’s most remarkable island beaches with Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. and add to the 104,641 kilograms of marine debris already removed by this not-for-profit organisation. Join the 55 members and over 370 volunteers who have embarked on a one day clean up trip and done their part to add some heart to one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations. You’ll get to have a first-hand interaction with the Great Barrier Reef and go to places where tourists don’t.
Pick up poo at Australia Zoo
We are serious. If you want help Bindy and Bob keep Australia Zoo and all its animals in the pink of health, then all it takes is a $50 uniform deposit and a “yes, we can” attitude. A fun and rewarding way to spend your holiday, you will be jumping in the enclosures, walking the farm animals, making toys for the more inquisitive animals, preparing gourmet meals and getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the world-famous zoo.
Volunteer your festive self
Some of Queensland’s biggest and even some of the wackiest events are built on the back of volunteers and they need help. So why design your holiday around your habit and sign up to help out at an event. You could be stomping grapes at the Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival, sewing a Jane Austen Empire waister costume for the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaelogy at Caboolture or rubbing shoulders with stars of the big screen at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Brisbane.
Discover the Daintree
Buddy up with a conservationist and help preserve one of the planet’s oldest living rainforests in the world-heritage listed Daintree Rainforest. Occupying less than 0.2% of Australia’s landmass, these rainforests support more than 10% of its flora, 36% of its mammals and 48% of its birds. Your role as a Daintree Discovery Rainforest Botanical Surveyor is to collect, store, manage and share scientific data. At $850 for four nights’ accommodation in rainforest village Crocodylus, you get permits, research expertise, return transfers from Cairns, travel around Daintree, and three meals a day.
Put a bird in the Hand
Get close Australia and Queensland’s native birdlife at Parrots in Paradise at the Sunshine Coast’s Glass House Mountains. Care for birds and organise their water and fruit in return for accommodation and food. This one doesn’t cost a cent.
Find your inner cowboy at Springbrook Farm
Go back to Australia’s farming roots and participate in a nine-day course (that promises a job to those who shine the most). Work with horses, muster cattle, drive quad-bikes, build fences, and get your hands dirty with one of Queensland’s most challenging and rewarding voluntouring opportunities at Springbrook Farm 107km south of Brisbane. Yeeeehaww.
Conserve Fraser Island
Spend the morning helping the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Natural Resource team clean up marine debris or catalogue the dingo population on World Heritage Listed Fraser Island National Park then take the afternoon off to explore the Maheno shipwreck or Eli Creek. Monthly departures for these five day/four night tours start from $840 per person ex Maroochydore.