• Australia
    • Sydney
    • Byron Bay
    • Sunshine Coast
    • Fraser Island
    • Cairns
    • Great Barrier Reef
2 - 12 weeks
General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility
Health & Safety

Program Details

Backpacking Snorkeling Surfing
Hostel Hotel Lodge
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program fee inclusions:
All in-country travel and transport excluding flights
All accommodation
All meals
All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary
Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
Environmental education and volunteering projects
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Equipment Meals Tour Guide Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
Feb 01, 2023
Jul 31, 2023
81 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Welcome aboard adventure lovers! We are going on an epic road trip spanning the length of the East Coast of Australia this summer! As we (literally) follow migrating humpback whales north, we will experience a wild land that is magic in its most pure form. We will go canyoning in the ancient chasms of the Blue Mountains, hold a koala on Magnetic Island, boat through the 99% silica islands of the Whitsundays, snorkel on the world’s largest Barrier Reef, learn to surf in pristine National Parks, and see how farming is done in the iconic Aussie outback.

Our journey here is two-fold: to immerse in the unbelievable natural beauty of the country in order to appreciate its intrinsic worth, and to explore local creative solutions to climate change. National Park Rangers will teach us about environmental conservation movements in two coastal National Parks and show us how they are protecting native species and strengthening sand dunes from sea level rise.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We understand that we have a long way to go in achieving the diversity we strive for among our students, staff, and partners. We are committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we recognize that this requires time, effort, and resources. At Pacific Discovery, we deeply value diversity, equity, and social justice, and we are dedicated to creating educational experiences that reflect and promote these values. Our program curriculum incorporates social justice education and encourages students to explore their own identities. To further support these efforts, we offer a 'Diverse Voices' Scholarship.

LGBTQIA+ Support

All of our Pacific Discovery programs are LGBTQIA+ friendly, and our operations team have attended CIS Abroad's LGBTQ+ Allyship Training, to ensure we’re doing what we can to support this community. We provide an open and non judgemental space for students to explore who they are at this pivotal time of their life, and in our admissions process we seek information not only on a student's gender, but their pronouns and gender identity. We’re aware of the differing cultural perspectives of LQBTQIA in the countries that we visit, and can direct students to a semester location where they’ll feel the most comfortable. Operationally we ensure that our instructors use inclusive language and can facilitate conversations with students around their identity, and discuss the rooming situations with LGBTQIA+ students.

Neurodivergent Support

Our programs are designed to support students with a wide range of neurodiverse conditions while following our essential eligibility criteria. For students needing extra help, we provide personalized wellness plans . These plans include coping strategies, care protocols, and specific requirements to help them engage effectively in the program. Our instructors have access to mental health first aid resources and are well-prepared to offer strong support to students with these needs.

Accessibility Support

Our programs offer a variety of physical activities, including hiking, surfing, rafting, and mountain biking. We make sure to accommodate students with diverse needs such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic medical conditions, while working within the infrastructure of the host country and our program schedules. We're mindful of the varying levels of accessibility in the countries we visit and can help students choose a semester location where they feel most at ease.



Sustainability is one of the 6 core components of each Pacific Discovery program, where we educate students about the local and global environmental issues, how to travel sustainably, and have them think deeply about their impact and what they can do in their daily lives to affect change.

We recently embarked on a Net Positive Benefit project where we are qualifying what impacts our groups have on the local communities, taking into consideration carbon emissions +/- social impacts +/- conservation impacts +/- community impacts. On our programs, students engage with non-profit organisations such as Litter Intelligence, Scholars of Sustenance, Ulu Mau puanui, Llama Pack project where they directly work for a better future - planting trees, eradicating invasive weed species, helping local communities and food banks.

Ethical Impact

We make a conscious decision to partner with host communities and suppliers who are passionate about our students' participation and involvement with them being of a positive benefit to the community. We want our presence to enable positive sustainable growth for our partners and this mantra is ingrained in the fabric of our programs.

Program Highlights

  • 'Save our Species' project around conservation and the local ecosystem in two coastal National Parks
  • Learn to ride waves from surfing-guru instructors during a surf camp
  • Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef with turtles and experience its immense marine diversity
  • Go on a 4WD-adventure on Fraser Island through the rainforest and along endless sandy beaches
  • Work alongside Parks Rangers to learn about the climate challenges facing Australia

Popular Programs

Join us on our Australia Mid Teen Summer Program!

Follow the path of migrating whales along the East Coast of Australia, on a journey of exploration, adventure and insight!

Join us on our Australia Mini Semester!

Protect the ocean, explore the Great Barrier Reef and delve into the Aboriginal culture on this road trip along Australia's East Coast!

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 18 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.7
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.8
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 18 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Dawson AUS Summer 2023

I was able to experience an entirely nee part of the world I had never been to before. I was shown this part by a resident of the country as well as someone else that knew the area well! We were also able to connect with locals in multiple regions and learn plenty about the wildlife and plantlife in almost every area we stayed in. You are provided with the opportunity to pursue service work which I would highly recommend as it is a great way to learn more about native and invasive plant life and what you can do to help protect this and even your own living area with just a little bit of research and knowledge.

  • Instructor Impact
  • New Experiences
  • Fun
  • Car Travel
71 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery Australia Summer Gap Program

I signed up to go on this program when I was 18 years old, but due to covid and the long lasting effects of the pandemic in AUZ, my trip was postponed until 2023 when I turned 22 and graduated college. I was a bit nervous about being the oldest on the trip by quite a large margin, but it didn’t affect my ability to enjoy this trip in the least! I had an incredible life changing time on this trip, so much so that I now know for a 100% fact that I HAVE to come back to Australia because of how much I fell in love with this country and this trip! I think that this trip is a phenomenal way, particularly for younger travelers, to be able to experience life abroad in a very educational, safe yet expansive way! I wish I could do this trip again and again because I genuinely don’t think it would ever run out of surprises and fun!

  • An amazing way to get to see some of the most beautiful places in East Auz
  • An incredible way to get to meet people from different cultural backgrounds
  • A perfect balance of structure and fun
  • A bit expensive for financially independent people
  • It’s too short, you will want to stay forever
64 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A truly unforgettable experience

Often travelling to countries, no matter the amount of research/planning you do, you never quite fit in everything you want to do but Pacific Discovery solved this problem perfectly. Despite the itinerary being jam packed full of amazing activities there was still room for spontaneity to highly individualise the trip to your preference!

The leaders Jess and Dan were absolutely fab and knowledgable and the head office company very professional. From the get go you know what to expect, and despite arriving a couple of days earlier than the program start there was never any uncertainty from the company or leaders in convening. The predeparture information is very helpful and if you ever have any questions head office are quick to respond.

The Australia Summer program was filled with so many activities on my bucket list and the geographical approach to the volunteering and program as a whole only added to the experience. Not forgetting the amazing group of individuals who you spend your time with, who are some of the best individuals you will ever meet. From surf camp, to snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, stand up paddle boarding, betting on frog races, attempting to swim in every body of water possible (as the handbook recommends) and bungee jumping on the very last day it really was truly an unforgettable experience and I would highly recommend it to everyone looking to do everything and anything or just something a little different.

158 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Superior travel abroad experience

My experience with Pacific Discovery was life changing. I was a participant in the Australia summer program, and I would 100% recommend this program to anyone looking for a personal, adventure packed study abroad experience. The level of organization and variety of activities was so impressive, and the leaders of our trip were outstanding. Some of the most memorable moments on our trip for me were seeing over 20 migrating humpback whales, camping on our own personal island, diving on the great barrier reef, and even bungee jumping! Our trip was focused on fun and adventure, but also the Aussie culture and history. The mentors on our trip truly cared about the success and experience of each participant, and made the trip memorable. The high quality and professionalism of this company is outstanding. I would highly recommend booking a travel experience through this company!

158 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Summer of a Lifetime

Going to Australia for the 4 weeks that I did was an amazing experience. There was never a dull moment, and the program was great. I was able to do things I never expected to be able to do like rappelling, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and learning how to surf.

My greatest accomplishment happened while we were learning how to surf. It was the second day, and the last time we were going to be able to surf on our trip. I hadn't been able to stand up all three times we had gone out, and I was feeling a little discouraged since everyone else had gotten up at least once. I just kept hanging out in the water and trying. There were only a few of us out there since it was drizzling. On the last wave, I got up for about 3 seconds and rode it out. I was on top of the world! Only one person saw it, but it was the best feeling in the world. This is one of my greatest memories from the trip.

Joining the Pacific Discovery trip was the decision I made during my four years in college.

154 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Wish I could do it 1000 times over again!

I'm sure there are many that can say these experiences are life-changing but the Australia Summer Program by Pacific Discovery was special in so many surprising ways. First, we were fortunate to have a good group that got along and could laugh and experience together. I have kept in touch with a few but made a close friend on this trip who I have shared life experiences with in the past six years - weddings, births, deaths - I believe she was brought into my life for a reason!

Although I loved every excursion and place we stayed, it wasn't for some people in our group. Two of the young men in our group were expecting a little more freedom, but in my opinion, that's when you go exploring or backpacking on your own, which they did mid-program. The Australia program was structured enough to introduce us to the country in a fun, safe and respectful way, yet I felt we were given ample time to explore on our own. I didn't feel like I was being chaperoned around at all.

I learned so much about the country, their conservation of resources, traditions, cultures - it was a trip I would love to share with my friends and family again someday. I experienced adventures on this trip that I believe new visitors wouldn't have known or had the opportunity to do, had I tried to plan a trip like this myself with friends. Much love to PacDisco!

What would you improve about this program?
It's been almost five years, and I gave this feedback to PacDisco right after the trip. However, there were terms on the packing list that were Australian such as using the term "jersey" instead of "sweatshirt" that we didn't know about. Sometimes clothing-wise or gear-wise I felt a little ill-prepared, but it didn't dampen my experience at all. I was on such an adventure high that I was able to roll with it!
148 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a lifetime

Before signing up for the program, I always knew I wanted to travel to Australia but I didn't know if I would end up studying abroad at a specific uni or just travel. Going through Pacific Discovery was the perfect option. The leaders are amazing. I was nervous about staying in hostels and backpacking but I ended up loving every minute. The way we traveled with Pacific Discovery, we had the perfect combination of alone/free time if we wanted it, and time with group activities. Traveling up the coast was also better than some of the experiences I've heard of with studying abroad because you are limited to what you can see. I saw so much of Australia in one month that most students who just study there for a year don't get to see. The way we traveled up the coast was amazing. There is so much Australia has to offer and Pacific Discovery does a great job of hitting the great stops along the way. The activities that are planned in this program hit everything anyone would want to do in Australia. There was so much self-learning that occurred also during this experience. You learned to live for a month with new people and they became a family in that short span. This experience was life changing and it was one opportunity I will never regret.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe a few more days in Byron Bay or stopping in Brisbane!
154 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Summer of my Life

This program opened my eyes to new experiences and taught me there was more to life than meets the eye. It taught me to always try new things and face my fears. I had a huge fear of heights and I had the greatest support system to help me get over that on our adventure abseiling, a.k.a. walking down the side of a cliff. I also got to go surfing for the first time which was way harder than it looks, but so much fun! I can whole heartedly say the happiest moment in my life was on this trip. We were on North Keppel Island for a week long conservation project where the only form of civilization was an environmental learning center. During the day we would go to the center and volunteer with a group of children and at night we'd head back to our camp. One night, we were all laying on the beach looking up at the stars, which I've never seen so clearly in my life. It was silent but we could hear the ocean waves crashing against the shore. At that moment I was the happiest I have ever been, in a single moment I felt like every worry in the world was gone and my whole body was at peace. This trip rewards your mind and your spirit. You meet unforgettable people and it'll push you to your limits but it is so worth it. I would recommend this program to anyone who is looking for that one thing to really find yourself.

What would you improve about this program?
I can honestly say there isn't anything I could possibly think of that I would change about this trip. No program is perfect, everything is planned out really well and anything unexpected is just the spontaneity of travel. Loved this program!
152 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

24 years

For the Australia Program (4 weeks), it is around 5,350 USD (not including the airplane tickets). It includes around 80% of the meals and all visits/activities, so maybe plan around 500$ more for this and other personal expenses.