Before heading off to college, perhaps, you’ve been considering taking a year off — or what’s commonly called a gap year. If you’re looking to spend a year away from school, you’re certainly not alone. The popularity of gap years is on the rise with 22 percent more students electing to do one in 2015. And, keep in mind, gap years are not just for students; if you are in between jobs or careers, a gap year may very well provide the direction or inspiration you are seeking.
Deciding to travel, work, or volunteer abroad during your gap year is a major decision, in and of itself, but what will you actually do, and where will you go? Enter Australia, one of the most popular gap year destinations with a lot to offer.
Spend Your Gap Year in Australia
From the wild lands of the Outback to the dazzling beaches to the stunning city skylines, Australia buzzes with life and energy. Diverse, developed and beautiful, Australia is an excellent choice, with its country’s friendly people and awesome working holiday visa making it an even greater destination.
When it comes to working, interning or volunteering in Australia, opportunities abound. For instance, those interested in marine and animal conservation have access to a variety of programs, given Australia’s need to protect native wildlife like koalas and sea turtles. Nature preservation projects are another option if you want to help protect Australia’s fragile ecosystem. Programs involving the Great Barrier Reef are particularly popular.
Additionally, there are numerous gap year volunteer and intern programs that involve working with indigenous communities. In such programs, you support local communities in a variety of ways, such as offering elderly care, helping with agricultural initiatives and assisting with educational workshops. The goal is to empower these communities to build a brighter future.
Also, in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne, there are opportunities to help disadvantaged people, from working in childcare programs to helping the homeless. Such programs are a good way to enjoy Australia’s modern culture, while still doing your part.
Best Gap Year Programs In Australia
There are many ways to spend your gap year in Australia. Listed here are some of Australia’s best structured gap year programs.
Note: Since it’s your gap year, chances are you may want to stay longer. The longer you stay, the cheaper prices usually get per week (which means a better value for you).
Love Volunteers’ Great Barrier Turtle Conservation program is held on Fitzroy Island, just off the coast of Cairns. Volunteers can expect very full days that begin with an early morning ferry ride to the Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. During the program, you care for sea turtles who have been injured by boats and/or are suffering from disease. You also get the chance to research these precious creatures and offer solutions for protecting them.
During the evenings and weekends, you can visit tropical villages, learn about Aboriginal culture, and retrace the steps of pioneers in Australia’s history. Cairns is located in tropical North Queensland and is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, offering endless outdoor and wildlife adventures. You will definitely not have a lack of things to do with the friends you make from around the world. This program starts from one week at $959 USD.
Few organizations run as many reputable volunteer programs in Australia as Fronteering. Most are centered around wildlife and nature conservation. Programs you can join for your gap year include:
- Devil Care and Release: Head to stunning Tasmania and care for the amazingly cool Tasmanian devils. The program starts from one week at $995.
- Kangaroo Island: Take a leap to Australia’s Galapagos and help protect the kangaroo–a national treasure. The programs start from two weeks at $1,595.
- Dolphin Conservation: Swim with dolphins off the coast of Western Australia and work on projects to increase public awareness of the need to protect them. The program starts from six weeks at $1,495.
- Koala Sanctuary: Have close encounters with koalas and contribute to their protection. The program starts from four weeks at $1,795.
- Bat Rescue: Fly up to Northern Australia and help save the flying foxes. During the program, you’ll appreciate this mammal like never before. The program starts from one week at $1,095.
In addition to these programs, Fronteering also holds a program for sea turtle conservation. You can also volunteer at the Australia Zoo, which is owned and managed by Steve Irwin’s family.
In terms of the diversity of gap year programs in Australia, arguably none match Frontier. From fruit picking in Western Australia to wallaby conservation in rural Queensland to surf camps on the East Coast, you have lots of options. Frontier even has tailored an Australia road trip program, which takes you through some of the most fascinating scenery in the world.
If you’re looking to soak up Australian culture and have fun, consider programs like Welcome to Sydney, which is more than just a seven-day tour; the organization can help get you a job if you wish to stay afterward. Similar programs are available for other cities, like Brisbane and Melbourne.
If you wish to experience life in the Aussie Outback, opt for Frontier’s Australia Outback Ranch Work Program, which is a paid two-week placement where you learn how to work at a farm or cattle station.
Frontier also has wildlife and marine conservation projects if you want to help preserve Australia’s rich nature. Some popular programs include the Wombat Conservation projectand the koalas conservation programs.
In addition, Frontier also offers a windsurfing instructor trainee program and a learn to sail program. These are great if you’re just looking for adventure during your gap year.
Choosing the Right Gap Year Program in Australia
To choose the right gap year program in Australia, really consider your true interests, budget, location preferences, and time frame. Also, consider whether you want to volunteer, work, and/or just explore the country. With so many reputable programs in Australia available, you’re certain to find something suitable after some research and introspection.
Touted as a way to explore interests, travel, work and volunteer, a gap year gives you time to grow as an individual. That’s probably why renowned institutions, like Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, encourage and promote taking a gap year.
Once you have selected a program you wish to attend, we’re here to help make your gap year dreams come true. Sign up on Volunteer Forever today, and begin fundraising for your gap year adventure in Australia.