This turtle conservation program plays an essential role in protecting and preserving the amazing sea turtle. Located on a stunning tropical island, a 45 minute fast-ferry ride from Cairns, the Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre we supports treats injured and sick marine turtles who have been brought in from the Great Barrier Reef and nearby Cape York Peninsula. Animals are brought in suffering from disease and/or injuries caused by boats, discarded fishing gear or ingested plastic that they have mistaken as food. Many of the turtles brought in from the Great Barrier Reef are suffering from ‘floaters disease’ which causes air to be trapped between the shell and body impacting the animal’s ability to dive and feed itself. On this project volunteers not only get hands-on experience in helping turtles in need, they will meet new people from around the world and will create an enriching experience for themselves.

Goals of this Project:

  • Protect Australia’s amazing sea turtles
  • Research these wonderful creatures so a greater understanding of how to save them can be gained
  • Work on projects to improve the environment for sea turtles and other animals
  • Enable inter-cultural exchange between all parties and teach international visitors more about environmental practices and Australia

Volunteers on this project play an essential role in the care of the turtles and their contribution is invaluable. Care for the animals is required 365 days a year and each day the turtles are fed, the tanks are cleaned and medication administered when required. Volunteers help in numerous ways dependent on their skills. From working with the indigenous rangers, to hands on caring for the turtles by scrubbing their backs and feeding them, this is a truly hands on turtle conservation project. For those with skills in areas such as building, plumbing, sewing, painting and cooking, the project team would love help in these areas as well as on working directly with the turtles.

Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and on any number of environmental or wildlife projects and can expect to undertake the following tasks

  • preparing food for and feeding the turtles
  • cleaning and maintenance of the turtle tanks and enclosures
  • scrubbing algae off the turtle’s backs
  • providing enrichment for the turtles
  • transporting and releasing turtles
  • keeping the project grounds clean and tidy
  • turtle research and monitoring in their natural habitat and reef monitoring
  • marine habitat conservation projects such as beach clean-ups
  • providing assistance to rescue turtles in distress where required and emergency medical treatments where required
  • helping to promote humane and sustainable practices through co-operation and education initiatives, fundraising and administration

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Volunteers arrive into Cairns International Airport from where a shuttle is booked to take them to their accommodation. Early Monday morning they meet with the program director and board the ferry to the island. Volunteers receive an orientation and training on the Island.

  • Arrival Day: SUNDAY 8am – 8pm
  • Departure Day: MONDAY
  • Arrival Airport: Cairns International Airport, Queensland, Australia (Code: CNS)

Volunteers on this program stay in a popular hostel in central Cairns. Rooms are typically split by gender and cater for to 6 persons sharing. Modern bathroom facilities are attached to each room. The hostel has all the amenities you would expect (and a few you normally find in luxury accommodations) including a communal kitchen, onsite laundry, a swimming pool and free Wi-Fi. Perfect!

Breakfast is provided daily at the hostel and a free Sunday evening BBQ is arranged each week. Volunteers can prepare lunch and take it with them on the program or purchase lunch and snacks on Fitzroy Island. Dinner can be prepared in the hostel also or volunteers can take the opportunity to explore Cairns and eat out at one of the many restaurants, cafes and eateries in the town.

Registration Fee: The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the Trip Planner.

Requirements: We welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to give their time and energy to help protect and conserve the native wildlife of Australia. This project is best suited to those who are either pursuing a career in animal conservation/zoological studies, or who simply wish to explore an interest in this field. However, the project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by one of local project leaders. Importantly though, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!

Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:

  • Emergency contact

Project Location: A tropical holiday feel prevails on the streets of Cairns and visitors can’t help but relax and enjoy the vibe. Strolling the streets is a social event with people enjoying the temperate climate and relaxing in the many bars, restaurants and cafes. Esplanade Lagoon offers the opportunity to swim and relax without leaving town.

Surrounded by stunning natural attractions – such as the famous Great Barrier Reef where this program is located, Daintree National Park and the stunning Northern beaches – Cairns is a magnet for eco and adventure travelers and is well equipped to cater to every visitors needs.

Start Dates & Duration: This project is available year-round and programs start every SUNDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.

A volunteer’s work day on this project will generally last between 4 and 6 hours and while we ask all volunteers to be flexible in this regard, a typical daily schedule is likely to go something like this:

6:30am Breakfast at the Hostel

7:30am Meet the program supervisor and fellow volunteers at the Ferry Terminal.

7:45am Ferry ride to the Island


Volunteers spend the morning caring for the turtles and undertaking related tasks.

12:00pm Lunch on the island

1:00pm Volunteers can be involved with research projects or enjoy free time


4:00pm Board the ferry back to Cairns

Evenings Volunteers are free to relax, run errands, stay in touch with friends and family, socialise and explore Cairns

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