Clare Volunteered on Conservation Projects in Australia
After 3 years of straight studying and exams I was ready to hit the world. So I decided to take a gap year. I knew I wanted to do more than just travel, I wanted to get involved, I wanted to experience a different culture and a different lifestyle. After a bit of research I found a charity called Lattitude Global Volunteering, they seemed to offer exactly what I was after. I read their brochure and was immediately drawn to the placements in Australia working on conservation projects.
Lattitude made the process very easy and stress free, I had an interview (more of a chat) to see whether I was suitable for the type of placement I had chosen. Through-out the preparation it was always exciting receiving something through the post from Lattitude. It was a big step when the Action Packs came through. It told me the exact placement I was going to in Australia, who I was going to be partnered with and when I would be there!
It was also a very scary moment – it all became real! Lattitude has good links with travel
companies so they organised all the placements, flights etc and all we had to do was phone and confirm.
In July there was a briefing held at Lattitude’s headquarters in Reading. This was great as I met all the other volunteers I was to be partnered with and received a lot of useful information. Soon I was at Heathrow Airport saying goodbye to the family. It was very surreal as I was leaving home and heading to the other side of the world, but there was no turning back now!
I arrived in Tasmania on a beautiful sunny day, yet it was only 10 degrees which was quite a shock! However the scenery was fantastic; so mountainous and untouched and after only a week of being in Tassie I had totally fallen in love with it and the people. Our projects took us all over; we visited Cradle Mountain, the most fantastic waterfalls, deserted beaches, rainforests, amazing coastlines, as well as lavender and tulip farms. It was also great working with a totally different mix of people; we worked with volunteers from all over the world as well as a lot of the locals. Working and living in remote locations meant we saw lots of wildlife. On one project, where we were working to rehabilitate the environment to reintroduce native frogs we stayed in a scout hut in the middle of the bush, whilst we were there we saw Wallabies, Blue Tongued Lizards, and heard the Tasmanian Devils. Tasmania will always have a special place in my heart! I met some totally amazing people there and the experiences helped me on the next stage of my placement on the mainland!
Queensland I loved from the first moment. It was so sunny and the people are so relaxed. During a couple of days off, I familiarised myself with the Strand (the main beach walk) and the Reef HQ, a must for anyone planning to go onto the reef. It was paradise! White sandy beaches, palm trees and crystal blue water. Whilst in Queensland we worked on a project in Eungalla National Park near some fantastic waterfalls where every lunchtime and after work we went swimming. We were working closely with the Queensland National Parks Services and were staying right in the heart of the rainforest where we regularly saw the resident 4ft Goanna Lizards as well as Bandicoots. Our last weeks on placement were spent in beautiful Cairns, whilst we were there we did the craziest thing around…We went bungee jumping! It was a great day. I did 3 jumps in total. The rush you get when you’ve just dropped 45 metres is the best. It was a really big challenge but it was well worth it, bungeeing is one of the activities in Australia I am proud to have done.
Taking a gap year was the best decision I could have made. Now I am a more mature and independent person. Travelling and seeing the world has opened my eyes and made me see that everyone is different and everyone has a story to tell. I really enjoyed myself and didn’t want to go home, but all good things have to come to an end.