Follow the path of migrating whales along the East Coast of Australia, on a journey of exploration, adventure and insight!

Hop onto this 3 week summer abroad program and you’ll go canyoning in the Blue Mountains, canoeing through the Noosa Everglades, snorkeling in Byron Bay, hiking in the Byron Hinterland, and surfing in the dazzling NSW National Parks. At the heart of surfing is a connection-to-nature philosophy. You get to experience this in a hands-on way by undertaking volunteer conservation work alongside National Parks staff in a coastal National Park. 

You’ll try whale-spotting at numerous headland walks along our journey. There’s also time to explore vibrant Sydney, Byron Bay and Brisbane on your way. Throughout your time on the east coast, you’ll learn an enormous amount about Australia's environmental and ecological history and how that unique history has shaped Australia’s flora, fauna and people. The warm climate, friendly people, unusual wildlife, and dramatic natural beauty make it a fantastic place to experience.

Who is this summer program for?

This summer program is perfect for students and non-students, ideally 15 to 17 years old.

  • Rewarding service-learning conservation project in National Parks on the New South Wales Central Coast
  • Exploring Sydney - harbor, beaches, museums
  • Canoe journey in the Noosa Everglades
  • Snorkeling with turtles and tropical fish in Byron Bay
  • Canyoning daytrip - rappelling, scrambling and hiking in the Blue Mountains
  • Surf camp at secluded coastal national parks
  • Hiking to the top of Mt Warning for spectacular views of the region
  • Soaking up the ambiance of Byron Bay, Brisbane and Noosa
  • Visit amazing Australia Zoo and learn about wildlife and the conservation initiatives of the late founder, Steve Irwin, the 'Crocodile Hunter'
  • It's whale season in Australia, so the chances of spotting humpbacks are high!
  • Very personalized and supportive small group experience – maximum of 12 students

**This is a guide to what you can expect to do on Program. The order in which the activities occur might vary**

Week 1. Sydney, The Blue Mountains & Conservation Volunteering

Welcome to Australia! Bold, brash and beautiful, Sydney is arguably the world’s most vibrant city. On arrival you will be met by your Pacific Discovery Program leader and transferred to our accommodation. A comprehensive program briefing takes place before we explore Sydney’s famous harbor, beaches and the famous Opera House.

We’ll leave Sydney for the Blue Mountains. Our base for the next 2 days will be Katoomba, a town in the area which borders the Blue Mountains National Park and its bushwalking trails. Whilst we’re here we’ve got time to explore the area, check out the famous Three Sisters rock formations and take a day canyoning with the Australian School of Mountaineering. Abseiling, rappelling and climbing through this beautiful park and getting a well earned adrenaline and endorphin kick are what’s in store!

We also do some hands-on volunteer work alongside National Parks staff in two coastal National Parks. The project is a three-way collaboration between Pacific Discovery, Surfaris, and the New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service. The 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 secured in the wild as possible, for the next 100 years. Project work is supervised by National Parks staff.

Week 2. Surf Camp & Snorkeling in Byron Bay!

We journey north to an isolated section of the coast where we stay at a surf camp and learn to surf from our surfing-guru instructors. Spend evenings relaxing at camp, playing games, debriefing each day and hearing the instructor’s wild stories before a great sleep in preparation for a sunrise surf!

Up next, we head to Bryon Bay. On a sensational section of coastline, Byron Bay has been an alternative hang-out since the 1970s and is today, the quintessential surfing town. Tie-dyed hippies mix with bronzed surfers, artists and large numbers of local and international tourists, there to enjoy its beaches, boutiques and cafes. While here, we’ll go snorkeling and spot humpback whales on their migratory route! We will also climb Mt Warning to reach the highest point in the region! You'll be rewarded with amazing views of the Byron hinterland and even the skyline of Surfers Paradise. 

We travel on to Brisbane, a city that's known around Australia for the live music community, art galleries and amazing food scene. We will explore rainforests, bamboo groves and a tropical dome in Brisbane's premier subtropical botanic gardens.

Week 3. Noosa Everglades Canoe Expedition

We'll continue our journey up north and spend several hours exploring Australia Zoo, learning about the zoo’s wildlife, and the conservation initiatives of the late founder, Steve Irwin - the Crocodile Hunter. We stay on the Sunshine Coast near the gorgeous beach of Noosa and try to spot dolphins and whales as we walk around the national park headland. 

We then head off on a self-supported 4 day 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 wilderness, the native birds fill the air with their songs and purple waterlilies add color to the green scenery. In the evening, we set up camp, go for a swim in tea tree infused waters, enjoy the serenity of this environment and tell stories around the fire.

On the last day, we’ll farewell Australia and each other, with a departure from Brisbane. You’ll return home with a lifetime of memories, experiences and bonds formed during this program.


*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, 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.

For full program details, please request the information booklet


Open to high school students and non-students, ideally 15 – 17 years old. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for conservation and new experiences. You need to be committed to, and prepared for, some physical work whilst on the volunteer component of the program i.e. trail building, tree planting or painting. You don’t need to have had previous experience with travel or any of the activities offered.

The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.


Our accommodation will be a mix of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable, clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and Wi-Fi facilities will be available most days, except during the weeks in the field on the volunteer projects and on expeditions. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.


Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $10 per day for.

Food preparation responsibilities are shared by all students. It’s fun, social and often a highlight. An average day on program would consist of the following:

  • Breakfast: cereals, toast, eggs, fresh fruits, yoghurt, tea and coffee
  • Lunch: wraps, sandwiches, salads, dinner leftovers
  • Dinner: barbeque meats, vegetables, lots of fresh salads, pasta, wraps, chicken schnitzel

Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand

Program Tuition Includes

  • All in-country travel and transport
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Environmental education and volunteering projects
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves - working towards a deeper understanding of their values, identity, passions and purpose
  • Individual mentorship from program instructors, supporting you in your personal goals for the program
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • 1- to 3-week optional extensions if you wish to continue traveling independently after the program
  • Pre-departure booklet 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

Summer Dates 6 Jul - 26 Jul, 2023
Duration 21 days
Program Tuition $6,599 USD Estimated Flight Cost $1,600 USD
Availability Open
Group Size 12 students & 2 instructors Ages 15 - 17 ideal
Optional College Credit No Start/Finish Start in Sydney
Finish in Brisbane