ISV - Volunteer Conservation Projects in Australia

Provider: ISV

Conservation is become increasingly important in Australia, and with International Student Volunteers (ISV) you can be a part of this movement. As a volunteer in Australia with ISV, you will be working with local organizations on conservation projects. Working in a conservation program in Australia is a great way to protect and restore the country's beautiful landscapes, as well as learn about a new culture.

While volunteering in Australia with a conservation program, you could be working in a wildlife sanctuary, doing scientific research or participating in an outdoor education project. Specific tasks could include planting native species, removing invasive weeds, tackling erosion, monitoring species, and habitat enhancement. ISV's conservation volunteer program in Australia is a must for anyone who wants to make a positive environmental difference.

Program Info

Location: 
  • Australia
Volunteer Types: 
Conservation
Environmental Conservation
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
Cost: 
$2,000 - $5,000 (USD)
See More
Languages: 
English
Application: 
Online Application

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Program Reviews (56)

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  • Safety
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  • Jordyn Pike
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Tempe, Arizona
    Arizona State University
    Awesome Australia!
    11/14/2014

    ISV Australia is the trip that will change your life forever. When I am old and grey, this is the trip I will reminisce about. We homed over 60 sugar gliders in 12 hours, planted over 4000 trees in 8 days, learned to play the games of the culture, sat down with the natives and learned about their history and ancestry, saw some of the rarest sites in the world, helped educate a small Fijian village as a pit stop on our way back to America, and not to mention the friendships made and the person you become after you take a trip like this. I have made friends from all over the nation and all over the world that I have kept in touch with and visit to this day. I have been to the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Oprah House, Fraiser Island, surfed in Byron Bay, bungy jumped in Cairns, and went rappelling, white water rafting and saw the deadliest spider in the world (in it's natural habitat) all while driving up the coast! Not only do we work hard at our 7-8 locations, but on the way to the next location we stop to do bucket-list events!

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish we were provided healthier food and a variety of food rather than the same 2 options.

    Photos:
    ISV Australia planing over 4k trees!
    One of the many views from the ISV Australia Conservation Sites
    Wild life adventures with ISV Australia
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  • Preksha
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Edmonton Canada
    University of Alberta
    Overall great experience, a few things id like to know in advance
    11/12/2014

    I stayed in kangaroo valley during the 2 weeks I volunteered. It was cold and rained a lot. I did wish I packed more for the type of weather-- look into that before you go. The living arrangements were really quaint. I wouldn't recommend if you're high maintenance. It had all the necessities which I greatly appreciated. The workload required moderate fitness, but overall it didn't strain you. It was reasonable.

    How could this program be improved?

    The planning before hand when dealing with the headquarters. It was hard reaching them as it was long distance and no one answered so it was just a constant of leaving messages for each other.

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  • Haley
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Akron, Ohio
    University of Akron
    Time of my life
    11/11/2014

    I agree with some reviews on accommodation spots. At first I was fine sleeping on a farm in the middle of no where, until we met up with the rest of the groups and heard how people were close to a town and able to adventure and do things after their day of volunteering. Although I would never trade my trip for anything, I would have enjoyed it even more if we could have been in a spot that we could still do things after our days of volunteering. The first two weeks we woke up, cut gorse and black berry bushes, went home, had dinner and went to bed. For that I feel we didn't get the full experience others did. The adventure tour was by far the best part of the trip. I know a lot of people said they would have preferred to have more free time to do stuff they wanted to do, but I would not. I think it was a perfect balance of planned fun and free time. When I returned to the US I was (and am still a year and a half later) finding myself so unbelievably bored and having too much down time. We did things such as rappelling, white water rafting, snorkeling in the great barrier reef, and visited/learned about aboriginal culture. I think of my trip every single day of my life and I can't wait to be able to return to Australia. The people I met I will never forget. It is a beautiful place and an experience like no other. There was never a time I didn't feel safe. I try to explain to people what the trip was like but there are truly no words to describe it other than an experience I will never forget.

    How could this program be improved?

    The only issue I had with this program was our project location. I loved Tasmania, but not being on a farm in the middle of no where.

    Photos:
    Wild Wallaby came to say hello
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  • Coli M.
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Montreal, WC
    McGill University
    Luck of the Draw
    11/10/2014

    I did the 2 week volunteer, 2 week adventure program. It was fun but way overpriced. Also, i worked in conservation. The volunteering situation is randomly placed and you can have bad luck like i did. One group played with koalas and had nice living quarters with a chef. Our group cut gorse and lived in a freezing cold sheep sheerer's quarters and cooked for ourselves. Also, we found out that ISV wasn't paying anything for our rooms so why was it so expensive. The adventure package, you have to pay $250 on top of the price of the package just to do the fun stuff in the places they take you (like repelling at Blue Mountain and snorkeling in the Great Barrier reef). Overall, the experience was ok but not great.

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    Response from ISV
    01/08/2015
    Hi, my name is Narelle Webber, and I'm based in Sydney Australia and serve as the International Program Director for ISV. Firstly, thank you for coming to Australia and giving conservation volunteering a go. I agree, pulling gorse (a nasty invasive weed) is hard work, and Tassie can get cold in winter-time, but I hope you also agree that it was pretty special to have the chance to contribue to restoring a RAMSAR wetland of international significance in one of the most beautiful parts of all of Australia. Secondly, I want to let you know that ISV's partner in Tasmania with whom you volunteered just won Australia's most prestigious environmental award (The Banksia Sustainability Award) for their efforts to conserve Tasmania's threatened ecosystems. So, in a small way, ISV and you contributed to this award-recognition, and we hope you can look back on the hard work you did and feel proud. (There's a blog coming out about the Banksia Award in January 2015 on ISV's blog page). Also, just for reference, nearly all projects in Australia involve self-catering for meals. In fact, many volunteers really enjoy this aspect! Finally, just to clarify for everyone, the Optional Activity Package you mentioned in your comment regarding the Adventure Tour is just that - optional, and I know most volunteers feel that it's amazing value (one of the 5 activities alone, Ocean Rafting in the Whitsunday Islands, currently retails for $190). Thanks again for choosing Australia and we hope you visit us again sometime. Sincerely, Narelle
  • Jordan Stewart
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Toronto, Canada
    Ryerson University
    Once in a lifetime opportunity!
    11/10/2014

    ISV Australia was by far the best travel experience I have ever been on. I have made friends with people that a I would have never met in my entire life. The adventures you go on will leave you breathless and in shock because you just did something you would have never done in your life. I still to this day remember jumping off a plane and skydiving over a farm in Australia, chasing a turtle in the great barrier reef and constantly falling off the board during our surfing experience because I can't surf to save my life. The project leaders will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. I will never forget this trip and I hope that more people travel with ISV because you don't only make a positive difference in the place you're at, but you also make a positive impact on yourself as a person. I will never forget this trip. :)

    How could this program be improved?

    Perfect as it is, no changes necessary!

    Photos:
    One of the many friends you'll make.
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  • Katie
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Orrville, Ohio
    University of Akron
    Life-changing Experience
    11/10/2014

    I learned so much about conservation and sustainability volunteering for the Tasmanian Land Conservancy. The program made me realize that I want to dedicate my life to practicing and sharing the love and light of everything I learned. Because of the knowledge I gained in Tasmania, I was able to perform independent research projects involving land and water conservation, citing possible pollution sources, and outlining drainage basins at home! I am honored to be able to make such a difference, not only in my home region, but across the world!
    My favorite experience was hiking up Mount Wellington for my birthday. My project leaders guided one other volunteer and I to the peak. We got to see beautiful ferns, trees and a waterfall. I was very excited to drink the water from the waterfall as it was a water source to Hobart, Tasmania. Our next stops were Rocky Whelan's cave, where we had a powerfully enlightening meditation, and the octopus tree, which is a very tall and unique eucalyptus tree! Once we reached the peak, we built snowmen and had snowball wars! When I am home, my birthday is in the summer, so to be able to build a snowman on my birthday is something I will never forget! After that day, I was always on the look out for Mount Wellington in the distance.
    My least favorite experience was during the adventure tour and the weekend off during the project. There was a lot of drinking and irresponsible behaviors from the other volunteers, which made it hard to be friends with many people, in my opinion. I did not like playing babysitter (making sure they were okay, getting them back to the accommodations, dealing with their drunken attitudes, etc.) for the people who got so drunk, they were passing out at the bar. Our group, as a whole, was even told by the adventure tour leader that staff and guests at the various hostels we stayed at thought our group was very disrespectful and out of control. I did not like being grouped in with everyone, because I do not like to drink alcohol, and I was not being disrespectful to any of them.
    Overall, the experience has made me feel humble, honored, grateful, and more cultured. I am excited to keep sharing the knowledge gained from my trip to Tasmania and Australia!

    How could this program be improved?

    The only thing I would change is the behavior of the other volunteers. At the beginning, we were told to act irresponsible and disrespectfully, including drinking too much. I don't know what else the program could do to find a solution to this.

    Photos:
    Mountain Top Snowman
    Curious wallaby at Freycinet National Park
    The "Gorse Busters" busting the invasive gorse bushes.
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  • Amy Novotny
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Gilbert, Arozona
    Arizona State University
    Restoring Tidbinbilla Nature preserve
    11/09/2014

    I had a great experience helping to restore this nature preserve after some wildfires. The staff was great and took time to show us beautiful areas of the park during breaks. We stayed in Canberra and had plenty of time to explore the area when not working.

    How could this program be improved?

    The expense is quite a bit for students.

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  • Lauren
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    San Diego, California
    San Diego State University
    ISV is Life Experiences
    11/08/2014

    In one day of the ISV trip, we slept on the bus all night to arrive at a fabulous beach, where we went ocean rafting over crystal clear water, snorkeled with colorful fish, and ended the day with a pub crawl. Each ISV trip fits in more amazing experiences than a typical year. It's been 4 years, and I still tell many stories- they are some of my best experiences. I learned how to conduct myself in a different country, how to identify invasive plant species, how to slow down and appreciate the world, and how to make friends with just about anybody, and how to live life to the fullest. I held a kangaroo, pet a wombat, hiked, scuba dived, rappelled, and rafted. It was the most amazing adventure.

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish it was cheaper so I could have gone on another adventure.

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  • Truong
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Birmingham, AL
    Other
    A chance to make lifelong friends
    11/08/2014

    I had an amazing time throughout the whole trip. We planted trees in the rainforest, caught some cane toads and helped take care of some flying foxes. And it was all a five minute walk to a secluded beach. I met amazing people that I still talk to and visit today. We had a chance to help a beached dugong. Mostly all we could do was keep it cool until some locals came by with a tractor to move him to the ocean. I like to think he was greatful for our help. He rolled to his side and offered me a fin to shake for the help. Our guide Barry Kentish was awesome. Couldn't have asked for a better one. Next came the adventure tour and I did so many things I never have before. Skydiving, rappelling and white water rafting. We got to throw boomerangs and spears, feed kangaroos and went to the Whitsunday Islands. Amazing trip that I would love to do again and would recommend to everyone.

    How could this program be improved?

    I had an amazing time it's hard to think of anything to improve.

    Photos:
    Flying fox
    High five with a dugong
    White water
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  • Lea Kers
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Canada
    Mount Royal University
    Once in a Lifetime
    11/07/2014

    The best part of ISV was the volunteering portion. The staff at wild mountains were so welcoming and amazing that hey made the first two weeks unbelievable. From helping build the whiptail house to planting trees we did it all. Extreme weeding aka lantana bashing is perhaps the funnest thing ever. They show you how to help conserve energy, and make you really want to help protect and save the environment. Not only that but they create an experience that makes you look at yourself and become a better person.

    The people you meet on this trip make all the difference. I am a shy person and this trip made me put myself out there and meet people that I still call friends today. The adventure trip pushes the boundaries of things you would do. It was so incredible to go surfing and swim in the great barrier reef. For a book worm like me to rappel down a rock face was perhaps the scariest, craziest thing i have ever done and by far the most fun i have ever had.

    This trip was truly a once in life time experience that allowed me to discover who i am and become a better person

    How could this program be improved?

    Its hard to say what can be improved when i went in with such an open mind. I had a really great time.

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  • Jordan macrae
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Canada
    Dalhousie University
    amazing life experiences
    11/07/2014

    The whole experience was amazing. I like how they start you off in a small group for two weeks so you have time to get to know people and make some closer friends before you get into the bigger group ( especially if your not the most out going). As for the things you actually do, the volunteering was rewarding, the people you help really appreciate it. The adventure components were also awesome. I remember running off a sand dune cliff towards the top of a rainforest canopy and falling 4 to 5 feet to land waist deep in sand. The best time of my life

    How could this program be improved?

    One out of four of the guides was a little off but no ones perfect

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  • Katelyn Frank
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Montana
    University of Montana–Missoula
    ISV Austalia
    11/07/2014

    Traveling to Australia through the ISV program was on of the best experiences of my life. I worked in a community helping them weed and replant their surrounding wildlife areas. We learned about the people in the community we worked with, the importance of living a green life and about how they strive to live in a conservative way. It's almost overwhelming how much volunteering in another country can change your views on your surrounding world. After we said tearful goodbyes to the community we took of on another two week adventure that included scuba diving, white water rafting, visiting wildlife reserves, rappelling off cliffs and takiing cruises around the Austalian coast. It was by far the best experience of my life, I met people I consider a second family and I cannot wait to go back!

    How could this program be improved?

    I thought it was an amazing program, I would have only like to stay in Sydney a bit longer then we did.

    Photos:
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  • Daniel Mann-Carolan
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Plainview, New York
    Binghamton University
    Changed my life
    11/07/2014

    The work project was fun the people we worked for were very friendly and made the experience fun, even though we were working physically hard. The adventure tour was even better, a new adventure everyday especially getting to surf in Australia. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. (I have been a lot of places)

    How could this program be improved?

    Sometimes the food wasn't as much as you had hoped for, but I was never starving.

    Photos:
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  • Emily North
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Norman, OK
    University of Oklahoma
    [Insert Life-changing Title Here]
    10/28/2014

    I could write an entire book on my experience in Australia with ISV, but since you have a thousand other stories to choose to read, I will just say this...

    I have traveled internationally every summer for the past 5 years. From trips with student ambassador programs to Europe and the Galapagos Islands, to dancing at the Fringe Festival in Scotland, to just visiting a friend in France, I have truly seen just about every side of international traveling. I chose to try ISV because I wanted a volunteer experience, and Australia was somewhere I had always wanted to travel to.

    I can honestly say that ISV topped every expectation I ever had. Every experience on the trip was another that left me wanting more. The volunteer experience was absolutely amazing, the trip down the coast was fun and culturally enlightening, and I took adventures I may have never taken in a lifetime.

    If you have the opportunity to travel with ISV, take it. I can promise you that it will be the trip of a lifetime.

    How could this program be improved?

    All I would say is I wish this trip could be longer. I would spend an entire summer with them if I could.

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  • Olivia
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Columbus, Ohio
    Ohio State University
    Trip of a lifetime
    10/27/2014

    I can't even begin to explain the wonderful experiences I gained from this trip. I think about it daily, even a year after my return. I accomplished so many life goals and found some pretty great friends along the way. The volunteer work that I did during first two weeks was so exciting; I actually wasn't ready to leave and continue on to the two weeks of tourism. The two weeks of traveling was overwhelming at first. I wasn't a big fan of being with 40 new people and having to get used to a new tour leader, but I am so grateful for it. I met the greatest friends and had a blast doing different activities with them. My favorite part was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef; I actually brag about that to everyone I talk to. By the end of the trip, I actually cried because I wasn't ready to come back to America. This trip changed my life, my outlook on life, and my career goals and I highly encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zones and take this trip!

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Alumni Interviews

  • Morning: During the volunteer portion, our days usually began around 7 AM. Throughout the whole 2 weeks, we rotated duties like cooking and cleaning for different meals, so two people would make breakfast. It was normally somewhat cold outside. We would eat together, and depending on how long we would be out/what are our activities were for the day, we would pack some sandwiches and fruit for lunch. Then we would pile out in the troopie (our vehicle), and head out! Oh, and I can't forget to mention walking outside and seeing kangaroos hopping freely about in the mornings!

    Justine sitting with her ISV volunteer group
    Justine sitting with her ISV volunteer group

    We'd usually end up working for a few hours before we took a break for "tea time", usually just a light snack. Work consisted of planting, pulling weeds, taking down or building fences, monitoring species, etc. Every task no matter how dull sounding was so much fun with all of us together. Often times we would play music while we worked, or had one of our volunteers narrating with a video camera.

    Afternoon: After tea time, we would keep working, sometimes switching up tasks or breaking up into different groups so we all had a chance to work with each other. We would continue working again until about 4 or 5 PM when the sun typically starts to set in Australia.

    During the peak of the afternoon, it would get quite hot despite the cold morning temperature. It was quite funny to see us all bundled up in the morning; then shedding our layers as we worked, and gradually putting them back on again before we left! We would usually eat lunch at our work site, as we had it packed from earlier. Shortly after we would finish up our work for the day and head back home. Whoever's turn it was to cook dinner would start and the rest of us would usually make a fire in the firepit, play any games that we had brought, or write in our journals.

    Justine exploring Australia
    Justine exploring Australia!

    Evening: After dinner and cleaning, we would have our fun! Evenings were ours to basically do whatever we wanted. We watched movies, and even made our own spoof of a horror movie with our video camera one night. On our two free nights we usually went out somewhere close by.

    Since we were in the outback there weren't many places around us, most nights we would drive out and go spotlighting, where we would try to find kangaroos in the night. Other times, we'd find a cool spot to watch the sunset, do some rock climbing, or we'd drive out to the nearest town (about 60 miles out) and go to a local pub. By the time we were done, we were usually exhausted and ready to sleep!

    Highlights: I don't know if I can pick just one moment that I loved the most from my volunteer experience. The highlight of this portion of the trip was definitely the friendships I made. Being with the same 8 people for 2 weeks, we bonded a lot. We all gave each other nicknames, made so many homemade movies, inside jokes, and made all of our volunteer tasks seem like fun vs. work. It was really hard to say goodbye to our project leader as well as Ryan, a local who worked on the land and spent almost all of his time those two weeks with us. The night before we left we had a goodbye party, complete with a Tim-Tam cake. (Tim-tams are the best Australian chocolate wafers ever!)

    The highlight of my adventure tour experience had to be some of the activities we did and cultures we experienced. I will never forget bungee jumping in Cairns, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, white water rafting down the Tully River, or surfing in Byron Bay!!

  • Rebecca with the local wildlife
    Rebecca with the local wildlife

    Morning: Up at 7 to get ready for an 8am start, we all get changed and have breakfast. At 8 Rodney, one of the park staff, would come and meet us outside our rooms and take us to the tool shed to sort out what we'd need for the morning. We'd pick up our tools for the day and follow him into the park to where our first job would be.

    The most frequent morning work we did was on the perimeter fence area. To stop channels of rain causing erosion to the road around the fence line we'd bury some logs with gravel to create speed bumps which acted as water barriers. We'd then take a walk around the perimeter to check for any damage to the fence or any holes that animals could get in or out through.

    Afternoon: We'd go back to our accommodation block for some lunch if we didn't make a pack lunch to take with us out in the park. There we'd eat around the outside table then play a bit of hackeysack while waiting for Rodney to come back for us and take us to the next job.

    We'd be split into groups, with some people carrying on the perimeter work, or other odd jobs like clearing and painting frog ponds, and others going into the Python House to rearrange the interior to make it a bit more appealing and interesting for the snakes.

    Rebecca and her group volunteered with wildlife in Australia
    Rebecca and her group volunteered with wildlife in Australia

    Evening: When we've finished our jobs for the day we'd all get together in the park and watch the keepers feeding the animals. All the kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos would gather around us to eat and have a fuss. Then as the park closes we'd go back to our accommodation and cook dinner, talk and play some games for the rest of the evening before going to bed.

    Highlights: The highlight of our volunteer project for me was building a pond for the dingoes. We got to enter the enclosure and dig up their old pond, before digging a new pond and mixing concrete, all the while with the dingoes running around us trying to play with our tools. It was amazing when we finally finished the pond to see them playing in it. Another highlight was getting to be so close to the animals, learning their names and growing really close to a select few of them who just loved having a fuss.

  • ISV Volunteers exploring Australia
    Justine with another ISV volunteer

    Why did you decide to volunteer with ISV in Australia?

    Justine: I decided to volunteer with ISV because I was looking for a way to be immersed in a culture other than my own, while doing something good at the same time. I did not want to be merely a tourist; I wanted to be a traveler.

    I had previously looked into Study Abroad programs, but they seemed very sheltered. With ISV, I really felt like I was fully experiencing the country and doing something positive for it while I was there.

    Volunteers worked on conservation projects in Australia
    Justine worked on conservation projects in Australia

    What made this experience unique and special?

    Justine: That being said, this experience is unique and special in its own right. ISV is unlike any other organization I've come across, and gives you the opportunity to do something for a culture that many other programs do not. At the same time, it also allows you the freedom to have your own adventure unlike other volunteer programs.

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Justine: This experience has personally affected my future. I feel I have found an organization I'd like to continue to travel with and hopefully work for one day. The day I returned from my trip I turned in my application to be a student representative, and I have continued being a representative on campus this year as well.

    Once I graduate, I hope to move to San Diego, where the ISV headquarters are, and obtain a job with the organization. I hope my next adventure will be as a tour or project leader. The experience ultimately revealed to me my passions - for travel, animals, and people. Even if I do not work for ISV forever, I know that I will be doing something involving one or more of these elements.

About the provider

Our mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

Program destinations include South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic. ISV has won multiple awards, and over 30,000 participants from around the world have experienced our volunteer, educational, cultural and adventure programs.Volunteers can join small teams for two-week projects in conservation or community development, followed by a two week adventure tour. Many university students earn academic credit for their involvement. Local staff carefully oversee programs and volunteers abroad. ISV is recognized as one of the highest rated volunteer and travel organizations in the world. ISV is a non-profit organization in California, USA and its Australian operations are based in Sydney. Begin your ISV Adventure!