Come to Australia with us this summer! There are many epic, adrenaline-filled adventures our group will dive into on this three-week program. We’ll go rappelling and canyoning in the spectacular Blue Mountains, multi-day canoeing through the Noosa Everglades, snorkeling off Byron Bay, and learn to surf with expert instructors on staggeringly beautiful beaches.
Australia has experienced a series of recent climate change-related fires and floods that need creative solutions moving forward. Climb into our group van, get investigative, and explore the east coast where all the action has happened. We will visit a wildlife hospital that rehabilitates koalas and kangaroos damaged in fires and land clearing and find out what we can do to help. We will chat with locals who have been directly affected and participate in environmental service work alongside National Parks staff removing invasive species and protecting ecosystems. The conservation mindset is relevant to life back home and toward a sustainable future. This program has been deliberately designed to showcase the incredible land Down Under and immerse the group in Australia’s most iconic environments.
✓ Want to road trip up the iconic east coast with a group of friends
✓ Are interested in environmental activism and climate change solutions
✓ Love adventures and trying new things like surfing, canyoning, canoeing, and snorkeling
✓ Want to do environmental service-learning in National Parks
✓ Want to receive a Certificate of Completed Service Hours to add to your resume
The Pacific Discovery program completely exceeded my expectations in every way. Not only did I get extremely close with the people in my group, I also met many other inspiring people through conservation work and other activities. This program allowed me to push myself in ways I had never done before and when I accomplished something I felt immensely proud of myself. I was able to recenter and ground myself in my values, who I want to be, and what I want to put out into the world. I’ll never forget this experience and the people that I met on Pacific Discovery."
- Anna, 2021 Student
Get the full Summer Program run-down in our catalogue. This catalogue provides information about Pacific Discovery's values and program design, as well as program descriptions, testimonials and a comparison chart!
** The hub will be confirmed on student home locations and flight paths at the time of booking.
Welcome to Australia! Bold, brash and beautiful; everybody loves Sydney. Your accommodation will be in comfortable hostel dorm rooms shared with other group members. An exciting program briefing takes place to let everyone know the next steps, and then we head out to explore Sydney Harbor by ferry, play frisbee on Manly Beach, and walk around the Opera House. These first days are all about connecting with your group members and your two instructors have tons of tricks to help with breaking the ice.
Just two hours from Sydney but a world away are the rugged sandstone escarpments of Blue Mountains National Park. Based from the main township of Katoomba, we'll get outdoors to discover for ourselves what makes ‘the Blueys’ so special. We spend a day canyoning - a unique adventure involving hiking, scrambling and rappels through sculptured rock canyons.
We road trip north from the blue mountains to the trendy little surf town Crescent Head. We can unpack our bags here and settle into our coastal base camp for a week of environmental service work and surfing.
The group will work alongside National Park staff in two coastal National Parks. The environmental project revolves around ecosystem enhancement in Arakoon National Park and is connected to a state-wide program called ‘Saving our Species’, which aims to halt and reverse the growing numbers of Australian animals and plants facing extinction. This program aims to secure as many threatened species that can be helped in the wild as possible for the next 100 years.
For the other half of the week, we learn to surf from our guru surf instructors. The waves here are suitable for all abilities. You’ll see pros out there as well as learners, it just depends on which part of the beach you go to. The instructors will teach you all about ocean currents and wind direction so you can take these newfound skills and feel comfortable in other surf locations across the globe. Spend evenings relaxing at camp, playing games, debriefing each day, and hearing the instructor’s wild stories before big sleeps in preparation for more sunrise surfs!
Up next, we head to Bryon Bay. We will go snorkeling and spot humpback whales from the iconic Byron lighthouse. If you haven’t heard of it already, Byron Bay has been an alternative hang-out since the 1970s and is the quintessential surfing town. Tie-dyed hippies mix with bronzed surfers, artists and lots of local and international tourists head there to enjoy its beaches, boutiques, and cafes. There has been a recent major threat here with unprecedented floods the past few years. We will speak with Flood Resilience community groups, help with any debris clean up and learn all about all the areas that are affected by natural disasters.
We'll continue our journey up north and spend several hours exploring the Australia Zoo, learning about the zoo’s wildlife, and the conservation initiatives of the late founder, Steve Irwin - the Crocodile Hunter. Their wildlife rescue center is one of a kind, and this is where you can learn about positive community action in the face of natural disasters. The veterinarians here will share stories from the 2020 fires and show you rehabilitated animals.
We then head off on a 2-night camping and canoe journey into the Noosa Everglades, part of Great Sandy National Park. Great Sandy National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve and is home to almost half of Australia’s bird species. As we canoe through the serene wilderness, the group splash, play and start to reflect on the program as a whole. In the evening, we will set up camp, go for a swim in healing tea tree-infused waters, enjoy the serenity of this pristine environment and tell stories around the fire.
We travel on to Brisbane and say our farewells. Instructors will accompany you to LAX, and you’ll return home with a lifetime of memories, experiences, and new friends.
*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, do laundry, rest, and explore.
**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects, or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.
✓ All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
✓ All accommodation
✓ All meals
✓ All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects, and entry fees as described in the itinerary
✓ Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
✓ Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
✓ Core Activities that encourage shared group reflection
✓ Certificate of Environmental Conservation with 20 hours service work
Medium Activity Level: Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this summer program! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like trail building or the removal of invasive plants.
Low Camping Level: You will only be camping for a couple of nights on this summer program during the canoeing journey. You will spend most of your time in comfortable hostels and lodges.
Medium Service Learning Level: You will be able to make a difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.
Our accommodation will be a mixture of comfortable and clean hostels and lodges. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs. Students will share rooms with other members of the group. Sometimes they will be in twin rooms and other times they will be in dorm rooms. There will never be outsiders from the group present in the rooms. The instructors will be in a twin room near the students. Students will always be able to access the instructors for support at any time of the day.
During week one there will be constant access to WIFI and laundry. During week two in surf camp and service, it is more remote, but instructors will ensure students get access to WIFI to connect with home. During week three, the students will be in and out of WIFI.
Australian cuisine is very similar to that of their neighboring New Zealand - an evolved fusion of British and European traditional dishes with some local flair.
Special foods to try: kangaroo, shrimp on the barbie, yabbies (very similar to shrimp), emu, macadamia nuts, vegemite, chicken parmigiana (chicken schnitzel topped with tasty tomato sauce and cheese), barramundi (a local fish).
Regular food to expect.
Breakfast: cereals, toast, eggs, fresh fruits, yogurt, tea, and coffee • Lunch: wraps, sandwiches, salads, dinner leftovers • Dinner: barbeque meats, vegetables, lots of fresh salads, pasta, wraps, chicken schnitzel.
To make things easy for you, we partner with a full service travel agency that can arrange flights, appropriate travel insurance and post program arrangements for our students.
They have access to a "Cancel For Any Reason" or CFAR travel insurance for US citizens in participating states. This optional travel insurance product allows travelers to cancel for any reason whatsoever up to two days prior to departure and still receive a significant refund. This allows you to keep planning for the future while avoiding the stress and the financial worry of canceling a program if you need to.
Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world.
We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!
We have been running successful Thailand programs in Spring, Summer and Fall 2022. The students shared their experiences in testimonials and wrote their stories down in blog posts - feel free to have a look!
Check out the information on our COVID-19 page to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.