This year, the world’s eyes watched in utter devastation as bushfires tore through 27 million acres of land, taking the lives of around one billion animals and 34 people. The scale of loss and damage is hard to comprehend and like nothing we have ever seen.
Australia is not unfamiliar with bushfire - it has shaped the country’s ecological balance into what it is today. But this balance has been offset by climate change, with close to a decade of droughts and record-breaking temperatures leading to a catastrophic and seemingly endless inferno. Thankfully, the fires have eased in the last month, but swift on their tail was torrential rain and flooding, causing what many worry will become compounding extremes, with one climate disaster intensifying the next.
Pacific Discovery is based in New Zealand. Australia is our neighbour; our sister, our ally in the South Pacific. We have the same laid back friendly nature and love for the outdoors. We may argue over rugby, but we stand beside them always. So, now, we are called to help. This program is all about action. Getting our hands dirty where help is needed, while supporting our operators and partners we have worked closely with for over a decade. Time is of the essence to ensure as many animals can be saved and habitat restored before further losses are incurred. This will be an important and impactful 4 weeks. We hope you can join us.
Day 1-2. Sydney
Arrive to Sydney where you will be met by your program Instructors. There will be a brief introduction and orientation around the projects you will be undertaking, as well as some time where you can get out and explore Sydney before starting on the service projects.
Day 3. Travel Day
Travel to New South Wales, one of the provinces most affected by the natural disaster. You will get to meet your project coordinators here at ‘The Crossing’ an Environmental Education Camp. This will be your home base during the days off between projects so you will get to know the staff and facilities around here quite well. Spend the evening getting briefed on your projects and getting to know the people in the group.
Day 4 - 23. Service Projects
Here on, you will be spending your weekdays on a project, and your weekends resting at the Crossing.
You will spend between 3-5 days with each designated project, providing hands-on assistance based on their current needs. Each week, the groups will rotate between the projects, so each group has a chance to help out in a number of ways, and subsequent groups can pick up where others have left off.
Your time with us in Australia will be spent doing the following:
COMMUNITY & ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS
You will work side by side with locals who live in remote bush communities to help them recover and rebuild services lost in the fires. This will include
- helping build composting toilets
- reviving a small orchard to allow a farm to get back up and running
- fixing and building back a chicken farm to help ensure the ongoing health of the chickens, who are used to organically manage pasture and soil regeneration
- help with building transporting systems for the chickens to allow for pasture rotation
- splitting firewood for the winter
WILDLIFE SANCTUARY VOLUNTEERING
Again alongside locals you will work hard to help support injured animals such as koalas, kangaroos, birdlife and more who suffered greatly from burns and now are starved of necessary dietary requirements due to burning food sources.
You will help with:
- Replanting/regenerating landscapes for homes and food sources
- preparing food for injured animals
- relandscaping damaged land
- maintenance of the facility
- supporting locals who are medical experts caring for the animals
KOALA NATIONAL PARK SURVEY
The local NSW community we are working with needs help to undertake a survey to gauge the presence of koalas post-fire. You will help with:
-gathering evidence of koala presence in certain areas
- record any evidence found
- spend significant time out in national park areas
- collate any findings as required by the survey team
Rest Days - Weekends
In the weekends all the groups join for a chance to debrief on the work of the past week, to rest and catch up. You may want to take the chance to connect more deeply with the locals, get to know your group members or head off and explore the nearby areas.
Day 24-25 Rest and Relaxation
Enjoy your last weekend together at the Crossing as you share all that you have experienced over the last few weeks. In the afternoon, take a trip into the nearby community where you will have a chance to see the impacts on an entire community, get to connect with the locals and enjoy some more time together.
Day 26-27. Permaculture Workshop
Gain some knowledge from the locals about permaculture practices, climate reality and how you can be a positive addition to these challenging times that are becoming globally recognized. You will apply all that you have learned from the past weeks and visit a local community to help identify further needs in that community.
Day 28. Wilderness Coastal Walk
Here you will set off with the full group for an informative tour that will give you a sobering insight the devastation that has occurred over the previous months. Your local operators have endless knowledge about the local history, wildlife and fauna of the area so you will see first-hand the devastation that the bushfires have caused.
Day 29-30. Return to Sydney
Return to the bustling city of Sydney where you will spend your final few nights with the group. Here your Instructors will facilitate a debrief, creating a safe space for you to reflect and begin to digest the experiences you have had this past month. Your group will be there to help you work through any feelings you have, as well as to celebrate the huge effort you have put in during this time.
Day 31. Depart for Home
Time for farewells and back to normality! We are sure you will have a huge sense of pride in your achievements and will develop a strong bond with the area.
Our Australia Recovery Program is open to anyone over the age of 16. We welcome individuals or groups of friends, families, high school graduates, university students and graduates, Pacific Discovery alumni and their parents and friends. This is unlike the structure of our other programs (which focus on 18-24 year olds), but we already have interest from alumni and families of all ages who are keen to help. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for conservation, humanitarian work, new experiences and different cultures. You need to be open-minded, and committed to and prepared for some physical work whilst on the volunteer components of the program. You don’t need to have had previous experience with international travel or any of the activities offered.
Our accommodation will mostly be camping, whilst on our project locations. Tents will be supplied for this. Laundry and WiFi will be available in the weekends, but not guaranteed while in the field on volunteer projects and on expeditions.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. All meals are included in the program cost.
The Crossing Land Education Trust
The Crossing is just inland from Bermagui on the southern New South Wales coast, Australia. The mission of The Crossing is to involve young people in positive environmental projects, inspiring them to conserve. The goal of our time with The Crossing is conservation and expansion of wildlife habitat corridors and contribution to habitat survey work in cooperation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Project activities may include site landscape work for sustainability education, tree planting to revegetate a key wildlife river corridor, and habitat survey expedition days to identify forest vegetation communities and koala territories. Our work will be facilitated by centre staff and the week will be an awesome opportunity to learn about Australia’s unique flora, fauna and local culture.
Included in Program Tuition:
All in-country travel and transport
All activities & excursionsas described in the itinerary
Environmental & service learning projects
Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
Pre-departure web-page with all information you need in one place to prepare for the program
24/7 emergency contact number for students and parents
Global medical rescue and political evacuation insurance
Instructors have 24/7 access to a physician and a psychologist, for advice and support
Pacific Discovery T-shirt, stickers and a buff
Online image library for your program
Not included in Program Tuition:
Travel (international flights) between your home to program start (Sydney), and from program finish (Sydney), to your home (refer international flights below); Drinks, snacks, laundry; Travel insurance; Optional academic credit.
Note this progam is also being promoted via our sister organisation Pure Exploration, so both alumni have a chance to give back.