volunteers on whitsundays

Take a holiday with a heart

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

Australian Age of Dinosaurs | voluntourism
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 Lego makeover.

Enrol in the two-day “Prep-a-Dino” course and then you get to tackle a long-lost Queensland giant and help preserve ancient history. Once you complete 10 days you may graduate to an honourary technician in recognition of your efforts to preserve Australia’s pre-historic legacy.

Meet a Minke Whale

snorkellers diving with minke whales | voluntourism
First discovered in the 1980s, there’s a lot more that researchers need to know about the Minke Whales. So slide into your a wetsuit, fill your tank and join Mike Ball Minke Whale Expedition for a dive on Great Barrier 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!

Whiten the Whitsundays

Whitsunday's cleanup | voluntourism

Photo by Eco Barge Clean Seas via FB

Go right to the heart of some of Australia’s most remarkable island beaches on the Whitsundays with Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. and add to the 179,587 kilograms of marine debris removed by this not-for-profit organisation since 2009.

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

Australia Zoo | voluntourism

Yes, we are serious. If you want help Bindi and Bob keep Australia Zoo and all its animals healthy, then jpoin the merry band of keeping volunteers. All it takes is a“yes, we can” attitude, a $50 uniform deposit and the team will show you the ropes. 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 not design your holiday around your habit and sign up to help out at an event.

Stomp grapes at the Apple & Grape Harvest Festival in Stanthorpe, sew a Jane Austen empire waister costume for the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology at Caboolture or marshal athletes at the Ironman in Cairns.

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 (with the Conservation Volunteers) is to collect, store, manage and share scientific data. Included in the package is four nights’ accommodation along with return transfers from Cairns, travel around Daintree, and three meals a day.

Put a bird in the hand

Male Holding a Rainbow Lorikeet while it eats
Get close Australia and Queensland’s native birdlife at Parrots in Paradise at the Sunshine Coast’s Glass House Mountains where you can care for birds and organise their water and food.

Do you volunteer regularly? What other experiences have we missed?

*This post was originally published in 2014 and updated in September 2018