Summer High School Programs in Australia with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

Lake Argyle
Lake Argyle
Sydney Harbor Bridge
Sydney Harbor Bridge
Uluru
Uluru
Bondi beach iceberg pools
Bondi beach iceberg pools
Uluru cameo ride at sunrise
Uluru cameo ride at sunrise
Bondi beach
Bondi beach
Sydney harbor
Sydney harbor
Bondi beach at sunset
Bondi beach at sunset

About

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!

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.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 42 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.7
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 42
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Jorja
10/10
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
Default avatar
Daniel
10/10
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.
Default avatar
Morgan
10/10
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.
Default avatar
Phoebe
8/10
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.
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Joana
10/10
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.
Default avatar
Ella
9/10
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.
Default avatar
Carolina
10/10
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.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Nick
10/10
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
Default avatar
Somerset
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Amazing time in Australia with Rustic Pathways

After a long flight to get to Australia I felt close bonds already forming. Right off the runway, the adventure began. Spending the first few nights in the Daintree rainforest showed me Australia's natural beauty; highlighting the breathtaking wildlife. My group and I then ventured to the Great Barrier Reef, and Fitzroy Island. We then had the opportunity to meet the turtles! Our next voyage was in the outback. While hiking through the outback, we saw amazing views. We ended these perfect days filled with new experiences, while we refected while watching the sunset. We then went to Syndey, the last stopping point of the trip. In Sydney, we saw various famous sights; exposing me to the everlasting beauty of Australia. Sadly this epic trip came to an end. As I was leaving Australia, I was also going home with new experiences, cultural exposure, adventure, and everlasting memories. I am happy to say there was never a dull moment. Even through the tiring flights, and the long drives, I never felt a moment of boredom; only excitement. We spent the hours on the plane and in the car jamming to music, and laughing non-stop. Looking back on my experience in the outback, memories of stargazing and group bonding left me wishing I was back in Australia. Reflecting on the immense amount of fun we had picking out new foods in the grocery store, left me forever grateful for the opportunity I received. Rustic Pathways blessed me with the most amazing experience of my life. They gave me the opportunity to form unforgettable bonds with my group-mates and group leaders. Rustic Pathways pushed me out of my comfort zone by challenging me with one of my biggest fear, skydiving. I have nothing bad to say about this trip, and I 100% recommend it to anyone who is looking for a truly unique experience.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I did was skydiving. One of my biggest fears is heights and I never would ever think to jump out of a plan. On this trip, I felt so comforted by my friends and leaders that I was able to face this fear and experience one of the most fun things ever.
headshot of girl in mountains
Cesca
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Animal Conservation in Australia

I will always choose Rustic for my travels as a highschool student, thats why for the past 3 years I have chosen to spend my summers with them. I chose this trip super last minute and I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I was pleasantly surprised by the activities and Rustic always outdoes themselves with a great combo of service of fun. The zoo was very organized but kind of inconsistent. They would split us into groups and some groups didn't get to experience things that others did. There was a lot of downtime on this trip at the zoo and after because once you are done with the zoo for the day, they don't really have anything else planned. The accommodations were probably the best I have experienced with rustic in comparison to Fiji and Costa Rica. We stayed at a nice house and super nice hostiles. The food was great because most of the time we cooked and could recommend dishes or places to eat to our program leaders. I highly recommend this trip for animal lovers!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would change is more involvement from the staff. I wish that they completed service with us because I believe it would've built a strong group dynamic. On my previous trips, the staff got involved and got to know us and also immersed themselves in the experience probably as much as the students. Plus the staff can relate more to activities and inside jokes of the day when they are involved rather than just sitting on the sidelines.
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Kara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic Pathways Summer High School programs to Australia

Rustic Pathways trips to Australia for high schoolers are very well put together and fun. There are many options for programs some including service opportunities. I went on the Aussie Surf and Service which was an 18-day trip that included 4 surf lessons, whale watching, shopping, and over 25 hours of community service. The program leaders were organized and kind, the housing was amazing, and the service was meaningful. This experience immersed me in Australian culture and introduced me to 6 other kids who are life-long friends. The ability to travel and tour an amazing country while also serving the international community is so unique and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do so. I would strongly recommend Rustic Pathways to high school students interested in traveling, meeting new people, and helping people around the world.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate on this trip was probably the teriyaki flavored crocodile jerky, although kangaroo burgers are a close second.
Default avatar
Divya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You, A 'Roo & Australia Zoo

While volunteering at Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo as well as small wildlife rehabilitation and conservation centers, I had the opportunity to engage directly with wildlife. Whether I was cuddling echidnas or feeding joeys from the palm of my hand, I felt so connected to the animals. I was so grateful to feel so trusted by the members of the staff, to have such independence, and to feel empowered to take risks. While at the Zoo, some visitors who had seen me working on habitat construction or cleaning would approach me with questions about the wildlife, and having the opportunity to spread awareness and share your knowledge is so meaningful. I am so appreciative to Rustic for giving me this experience in high school. I also had the privilege of being with a group of students who have become lifelong friends. We share such meaningful memories and we are always in touch. Every year, we travel on a new Rustic trip together, exploring new horizons.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take risks! Step out of your comfort zone, and engage fully with the wildlife and with the members of the community you have the opportunity to interact with! Ask them questions! Hear their stories and share your own!
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William
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Seven Wonders of Australia

I attended the college summer travel program there. I personally have an Australian Passport, but so far before the trip, what I had known of Australia remained in Sydney. I stay in a lot of places with my family all around the world and therefore don't get to be in Australia much. The trip got me to see Australia as a whole, from the East Coast to the Outback to the North and to the South, from the city to desert to rain forest to ocean. Everyone is going to have their own unique experience. For me, it opened me up to walk out of the past and into the future. I signed up for the trip to move on and to reaffirm myself of what I want to become, and the trip helped me to do exactly just that. I still wear the Rustic Pathway bond wristlet to remind myself of the trip and what I learned from it.

What would you improve about this program?
I absolutely loved everything about the program. The experience was great.
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Emmy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Seven Wonders of Australia

My experience with Rustic Pathways has created some of the most fond and influential memories of my life. Over the course of two weeks in Australia, I was introduced to different cultures, foods, people, music, etc. I broadened my horizons by going skydiving over Uluru, planting trees in the Daintree rainforest, and visiting the Sydney Opera house, just to name a few. The memories I made and people I met on this trip will be with me forever and have shaped me into the person I am today. I 100% recommend Rustic and you would be silly not to sign up!

What would you improve about this program?
This trip was perfect in every way I believe. If they were to adjust anything it could be to spread out the volunteering more evenly as opposed to having two of the four volunteering projects during the last leg of the trip.
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Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience of My Life

After going on a trip to the Dominican Republic and return to the normalcy of my everyday life, I immediately knew I had to go on another trip. I decided to sign up in September for the following summer's Australia Seven Wonders program, and I could not contain my excitement all year. As soon as the anticipated date arrived in June, I quickly made friends in the airport on the way to LAX and during the long but exciting travel to our destination (friends I'm lucky to continually spend time with, even after arriving back to our home states). I met my amazing program leaders the second we touched down in the "land down under" and they did a great job of packing every day with new adventures and experiences. Rustic Pathways does an incredible job opening its arms wide and making every student feel safe, welcomed, and happy. Whether we were doing service with the animals such as Koalas and Kangaroos in Northern Australia, snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef, gazing at the incredible stars in the Outback, or observing the positive impact our contributions had on the community of Sydney, this trip touched me in a variety of different ways. It taught me how to care about every aspect of our world, walk into every situation with clear eyes and full hearts, and showed me how giving back to others can make you feel better than receiving. I recommend this program to anyone and everyone, because the dream-like adventure that I embarked on should be experienced by everyone at least once during their life time.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I can think of to improve this experience would be to get the word out! I discovered Rustic while searching for a trip abroad, but if the word was spread wider, more kids would discover that they would love to engage in a unforgettable trip similar to the one I experienced!