• Australia
    • Great Barrier Reef
2 - 12 weeks

Program Details

Program Type
Spring Summer
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals
What's Not Included
Jan 16, 2020
Feb 10, 2020
64 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The magical Land Down Under occupies a special place in our history as the origin of the first Rustic Pathways program in 1983. As Rustic has grown across the world, Australia has remained at the heart of our operations, thanks to the tireless efforts of our energetic and expert Aussie staff. Whether on adventure or service trips, these blokes and sheilas bring with them years of expertise, knowledge, and a strong pride in their wild homeland.

Known for its wild outback and pristine coasts, Australia programs feature awesome outdoor activities like surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, skydiving, wildlife encounters, and riding through the Outback in a 4×4. No matter which program you choose, you’re bound to have a blast!

This program is currently not being promoted on Go Overseas by its provider. Check with Rustic Pathways for the most up-to-date information regarding the status of this program.

Video and Photos

Popular Programs

Seven Wonders of Australia

Experience the best of Australia on this non-stop adventure program. In just two weeks you’ll visit five different UNESCO World Heritage sites. Explore the Daintree rainforest and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (add-on scuba dive for certified students only). Learn about Aboriginal culture at Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock national parks. Finally, navigate through Sydney and it’s famous beaches, Manly and Bondi.

Great Barrier Reef Dive Expedition

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Get certified as a PADI Open-Water diver or get your Advanced Certification if you’re already a diver. Learn about environmental issues threatening the reef while you venture out to sea on your liveaboard dive expedition. Snorkel with Dwarf Minke Whales and record observations on their behavior, which directly contributes to the ongoing research of our service partner organization.

Aussie Surf and Service

Join us on our most popular two-week program in Australia. Experience the mountains, beaches, cities, and Outback of Australia on this two-week service adventure. Camp out in the bush, visit the Steve Irwin Zoo, sandboard down giant dunes, and learn how to surf! While on the coast you’ll monitor humpback whales at a marine mammal research center. You’ll also give back to the community by volunteering at an elementary school and playing basketball with special needs students.


Rustic Pathways Scholarships

Every year, travel company Rustic Pathways give away $250,000 to students from across the world. Scholarships are varied and it's worth checking back in after they've been awarded as late-season scholarship redistribution -- where uncollected grants are reallocated to new applicants -- takes place a few months later. Among their scholarships, the most relevant to prospective volunteers are the following:

Service Scholarships: Available to those who have never participated on a Rustic Pathways program before, this scholarship covers most or all of the program fees for a service-learning project with the company and is available to those who demonstrate financial need.

Gap Year Scholarships: Recognizing academic merit, these scholarships are available to cover some of the fees of a one-semester gap year program with Rustic Pathways.

$500 - $1,500

Program Reviews

4.95 Rating
based on 42 reviews
  • 5 rating 95.24%
  • 4 rating 4.76%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.9
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.75
  • Value 4.95
  • Safety 4.95
  • Growth 4.85
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 4.75
  • Housing 5
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 42 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

You a roo' and Australia Zoo

I travelled from Perth, Western Australia to Brisbane to take part on the You a roo' and Australia Zoo program. It was such an amazing experience not only to work at australia zoo which is a dream of mine as some passionate in zoology but also the bonds i made with all the girls and my program leaders. Although such a small group i have extremely fond memories of every single person on trip which made an already amazing person ten times better. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone passionate about animal conservation.

What would you improve about this program?
Extend the amount of time working at the zoo as junior zookeepers
46 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience everybody should have

“How was your trip?” A necessary and welcomed question, usually followed by a description of some event that happened or a couple of pictures. A quickly forgotten conversation by the asker but not by the teller. Coming back from Mongolia, answering this question countless times left me with another: How could I ever tell people that seeing real poverty made me want to change the world without being that kid who never stopped talking about his trip to Mongolia?

Seeing poverty in its purest form moved me in a way I never could have predicted. One of the service aspects of my trip to Mongolia entailed delivering food to the people of Sogoog; one bag of flour, one bag of pasta, and a couple of other smaller goods for a single family. This delivery would need to last these families for several weeks. In my world, these supplies would last my family one night.

When I dropped off the food, I was surprised by how I was welcomed into the houses of strangers. With beaming smiles, they allowed me to enter into their homes not fearing judgement in the slightest. When I looked at their cracked walls and dirty attire, one part of me felt guilty, but as soon as I saw their faces, I realized that they were the ones who had it all figured out. These families were elated to have us privileged foreigners cramming into their crumbling dwellings, yet we stay in our suburban lives wondering if our bay windows poke out too much.

Genshu, Aishu, and Kinshu were a trio of sisters who ran over to my camp as soon as I arrived in the West. Within ten minutes, I was giving more piggyback rides than I thought my legs could handle. When I mistook the youngest girl, Genshu, for a boy because of her short hair, I discovered the girls belonged to the poorest family in Sogoog. Genshu wasn’t a boy; her mother was just forced to shave her hair because she couldn’t afford shampoo.

When I entered the girls’ home, their grandmother brought out a few pieces of candy as well as bread and butter. It was everything they had. This is when I realized I was living my life completely wrong. I felt a sense of guilt that I had not made the most of the opportunities given to me from my privileged background. I knew I couldn’t be distracted by this guilt, though. I needed to finally practice what Gandhi has told me millions of times: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

I returned from Mongolia late at night. It must have been around 10 pm when my sister and I pulled into the North Avenue McDonald’s. I stepped up to the electronic cashier to order my food, not really feeling like reality was reality. Just two days ago, I was shampooing Genshu’s scalp. Now, I was selecting an instant hot meal through a touchscreen wall. I’d like to say that this disparity made me sick, but it didn’t. I destroyed that quarter pounder.

I was changed when I came back from this trip. It wasn’t for the better or worse (maybe the better), but I felt almost uncomfortable in my own skin. I just spent three weeks in the part of the world farthest from the ocean and even farther from my town, and it felt like I never left. So what is this feeling I still can’t shake? I felt more responsible about what I could control. If someone were to have thrown a bottle out the window while I was in the car before the trip, I would disprove of their actions but I probably wouldn’t have said anything. Now, I had to speak up. Two years later, I still feel the same way. If I don’t, who will?

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
In Mongolia, I accidentally disrespected an entire town square by pronouncing Chinggis Khan "Genghis Khan". For everybody reading this, never say "Genghis Khan" ever again.
46 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Australia Zoo

Going on a rustic pathways trip encouraged me to travel and learn about other countries. Going to Australia and actually working at the Australia zoo just reinforced my love for animals and wanting to major in a similar field during college. I’ve also made friends on this trip that I will have for the rest of my life. I got to experience things that I couldn’t have anywhere else. Our program leaders were also really nice, engaging, and always made sure we were having fun. I had so much fun and learned so much on my trip to Australia that I’m going to China this summer with rustic. I’m going to carry all these memories with me for the rest of my life. If you do go on this trip remember to just have as much fun as you possibly can. You will only get to experience this once in your life.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Socialize with the other participants and try to be as engaged as possible. You are in a different country and won’t ever be able to experience this again so make the most of your time.
37 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Australia Animals and Much More

This trip was essential for me in discovering the path I want to take in life. Working will incredible animals all over Australia showed me how fascinating they can really be. Not only that, but made me realize that all I wanted to do was find a way to help them. Whether I was working with kangaroos or koalas, I found interest in every aspect. The scenery of this land was also breathtaking and gorgeous. The ability to mix education with fun, and service, is such a unique thing. I got to experience Australians everyday life, while also partaking in opportunities most people never get to experience. The service aspect of this trip is also a very valuable component. We were able to immerse ourselves in a zookeepers life, where they excepted us with graciousness and generosity.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Even if your tired out after a long day, it’s worth it to push through and squeeze as many adventures out of your time as possible. You’d be surprised with the quantity of experiences available to you.
40 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Aussie Surf and Service

Aussie Surf and Service, the program that changed my life forever. Just in sixteen days I grew so much as a person. I fell in love with the places we visited, the culture, the people, every little detail about Australia. I meet amazing people that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Before this experience I thought that my life had one defined pathway, but this opened my eyes to a whole other reality. The reality of maybe not going to University right after high school and take a year to travel and find who I truly am. I experienced things that I have never done before and I'm so glad that I did. This definitely helped explore and discover a more adventurous and free side of me. I have no words to describe how amazing it was and how I will be always be grateful for going.

What was your funniest moment?
I think the funniest moment was when we all went to sea kayaking and it was raining really hard. We were all trying to look for turtles and whales but we didn't have any luck. Than we started to mess around and try to jump into each others kayaking and most of us fell.
37 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Summer Ever

I absolutely LOVED my experience with Rustic Pathways. I was fortunate enough to go to Australia for the "You, A 'Roo, and the Australia Zoo" program. I was super worried about going on this trip because I had never been away from home for longer than a few days, and this trip would be 16 days. Not only were the educational opportunities on my trip amazing, but so were the accommodations as well as the staff and activities. I cannot express how incredible this trip was. I grew so much. I gained lifelong friends and memories I will never forget.
The base house where we stayed felt very safe and had a very homey feel to it. The other accommodations were hostels and were very clean and safe as well.
The activities were adventurous enough that I probably would have never done them myself (kayaking, hiking, boat 'thrill ride', nature walk, campfire under the stars) but not so adventurous that I was uncomfortable.
The educational amenities on this trip were insane. I learned so much from working with zookeepers and from informational sessions at the zoo. I feel so grateful I was granted that opportunity.
The staff on my trip were so welcoming and accommodating. Whenever anyone on the trip fell ill or needed anything that their peers couldn't provide, the leaders jumped to help out. I learned a lot from them on my trip.
All I can say is that the trip was not long enough. I thoroughly had an amazing time.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I do not like people getting sick or throwing up, and while kayaking, one of my peers was seasick. There was nothing I could do in the moment so I sang to myself until it was over. The whole ride ended up being only about 2 hours. Really small when you think about it but it was the longest 2 hours of my life. It really helped me grow and realize that sometimes its really not important and that I can get through anything I put my mind to.
36 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Barrier Reef Expedition!

This past summer I decided to not only try something new by signing up for my first Rustic Pathways trip, but I decided to fly across the world to Cairns, Australia to commence a two-week-long journey on a liveaboard diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I signed up for this trip with a fear of heights, being underwater, sharks, and the dark: a seemingly terrible combination for a trip that involved all four of those. Yet, the second I met my leaders and group members all of my fears washed away. They pushed me to test my fears and try new things which ultimately led to the two most amazing weeks of my life. This trip definitely was constantly action-packed and left us with very little downtime but as an adventure seeker, I was very happy with how it was coordinated. We got a little bit of time to wander around Cairns (and go bungee jumping!) but only a few days into our trip we were in the classroom getting our open-water certificates and getting ready for our trips out to sea. We then packed our bags and headed out to the reef which was, obviously, the highlight of the trip. I saw so many amazing animals and ecosystems that left me absolutely speechless and felt so at home surrounded by a crew of incredibly friendly divemasters and dive instructors. I would say one of the best parts of the trip was being able to swim with Dwark Minke Whales (contrary to their name, they are quite massive) who were beautiful and incredibly friendly.
Coming home from this trip left me pretty sad to see all of my amazing new friends go but ultimately it has left me with countless new passions and a plethora of connections all around the globe!

What would you improve about this program?
I truly can't think of anything that I would change about this trip! The packed schedule worked for me but I can see how it wouldn't work for everybody so maybe extending the trip a few days would be helpful for some more downtime.
40 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Australia Zoo

Words cannot describe how excited I was for my trip to visit Australia Zoo with Rustic Pathways when I first saw it as a program option. This was my first time traveling with Rustic, but I will definitely be doing it again. Being able to see the Australian East coast was incredible, and I loved staying in the base house and hostels since I felt apart of the community, and experience you don't get by staying in a hotel. Working alongside Australia Zoo's incredible staff and eventually Trish at the WRREA was truly surreal and amazing whether you are an animal lover or not. From start to finish, this trip was incredible, even when we where just exploring a small town. Australians are super friendly, and the country is beautiful. It was amazing

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Seeing the Irwins run the croc show was incredible
36 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers