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Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Australia

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Free or Cheap Volunteer Work in Australia


There's more to volunteering in Australia than taking care of bats. It is just a coincidence that two thirds of our first three listings involve nocturnal flying mammals.


Grassroots Volunteering in Australia

The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:

Cape Tribulation Tropical Research Station

A research and conservation organisation that since 1988 has specialised in lowland tropical ecosystems, in particular those of the Daintree lowlands. During their down time volunteers can enjoy some of the finest coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. The station seeks, among others, resting writers, cooks, plumbers, gardeners and bat lovers. Volunteers will assist in research activities and the daily running and maintenance of the Research Station, the Bat House and the 25 acre grounds.

Possible activities include helping out in the Bat House, interacting with visitors and flying foxes, feeding the resident bat colony, removing invasive plants from rainforest plots, stomping grass for forest regeneration, helping with the general upkeep of the facility, and constructing Station buildings. The normal stay is 2-3 weeks but rarely refused extensions are available at the discretion of the Director. Volunteers, Interns and Students can be of any age, but preferably more than 20 yrs old. A good command of English is very important. Internships and studentships of one month's minimum duration are also possible. Volunteers unvaccinated against rabies won't be allowed near the bats which, as they say, would be a shame.

Where: Queensland. Three hours drive from Cairns.
Accommodation & Costs: The Research Station can accommodate up to 20 people in 4 cabin style bunkhouses. The cabins are furnished with bunk beds, 2 or 4 persons per room. Some double rooms are available for couples. All linen, pillows and blankets are provided. The facilities are basic and fairly spartan, but comfortable. Our information on the fees to volunteer are a few years old but our last information was that volunteers pay the cost of getting to the station and A$35 per day for food and accommodation. Interns pay A$45 per day.

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Tolga Bat Hospital

Every year the Tolga Bat Hospital rescues, rehabilitates and releases hundreds of bats that would otherwise die. Tasks include making banana smoothies for the bats and trips to the rainforest to release or capture the bats. Volunteers must be vaccinated for rabies to handle the bats. Unvaccinated volunteers are also accepted but cannot handle the bats. Persons under the age of 22 are less likely to be considered.

Where: Near Atherton, Queensland.
Accommodation & Costs: Considering dorm accommodation in nearby Atherton can be found for AU$25, volunteering with the Tolga Bat Hospital only becomes economical and meets our criteria for cheap volunteering after staying for eight weeks. At this point the volunteer contribution falls to AU$30 per day, though this does include food and as far as we are aware you're not allowed to handle bats at the hostel. Shorter stays, beginning at one week, can be arranged by those willing to pay higher rates for their board. Volunteers also need to pay a non-refundable deposit of $350 when their application is accepted.

Volunteering in Australia


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Bellbunya is a demonstration centre for sustaining living set up as a small eco-village on 40 acres. They have organic food gardens, wildlife corridors, a creek and lagoon, a conference hall and restaurant and accommodation for 30 guests. The work is varied and changes according to the time of year. Some jobs are organic gardening, building maintenance and renovation, lawn mowing. There is also cooking, cleaning and other lighter projects including conference set ups, social media and website, administration. Volunteers stay a minimum of two weeks and stays longer than 28 days require an invitation from all community members. They often need trade skills (e.g. building, plumbing, electrical, house painting, carpentry etc) so if you have a trade skill that you are willing to offer and are interested in volunteering at Bellbunya but can't spare two weeks, they invite contact anyway.

Where: Sunshine Coast.
Accommodation & Costs: On the rarely available full time programme (30 hours a week) there is no fee but part time volunteers work for 18 hours and contribute AU$75 per week. Bunk room accommodation and farm fresh vegetarian meals are provided.


Help Exchange Networks in Australia

Workaway -
HelpStay -{XID_HASH}
HelpX -


Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Australia

Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). There are usually plenty of house sits going in Australia but, if not, you can also get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.


Volunteer Experiences*

Talking jobs – Interview with a Volunteer - After joining Conservation Volunteers Australia before she left America, Lauren Noble helped plant trees in a nature reserve in Geelong, removed old fencing on a property near Warrnambool and visited Phillip Island to remove woody weeds.
Work Exchange Tips: When Work Exchange Goes Wrong - Lash pays her way through Australasia with a succession of work exchanges. Most of them were good, but two not so much.


* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations

Image courtesy Wildfun