Australia – Wildlife Animal Sanctuary

Volunteer at Australia’s only Heritage Listed wildlife sanctuary, in natural bushland and teeming with native wildlife. The local team provides a lifelong home for rescued animals, breeds endangered species to release and restore wild populations, and delivers “conservation through education.” The sanctuary is located just an hour by car from Sydney, or two hours by train.

Program Highlights:

  • Work closely with koalas, kangaroos and other indigenous Australian wildlife
  • Ethical volunteering and wildlife interactions
  • 170 acres of natural bushland
  • Heritage Listed Aboriginal cultural landscape with 4,000-year-old sites
  • 60+ species of animals in care include koalas, echidnas, dingoes, wombats, bilbies, bats, birds, reptiles
  • 200+ species of wildlife living free and wild
  • Friendly, free-ranging kangaroos, wallabies and emus
  • Small farm animals including alpacas, goats and “Waffles the not-so-miniature Pig”
  • Help with feeding and cleaning for the animals, conservation programs, general maintenance and habitat preservation
  • Weekends and evenings free to explore Sydney and surrounds


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum 2 week commitment):

Sunday, Arrival Day: You will land at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD) and take a direct train ride from Sydney Airport to Gosford Station. The sanctuary team will coordinate to pick you up from Gosford.

Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm: You will meet the ranger team and the animals. Learn how the sanctuary operates and how to find your way around. A ranger will work with you. This is a wildlife sanctuary, so expect conditions and priorities to change from day to day. Typical tasks include animal care, general maintenance, bush regeneration, guest services and whatever else needs to be done.

Saturday & Sunday: If it is the end of your program, Saturday is a day off and Sunday you depart in the morning. The sanctuary team will drive you to Gosford Station (usually at 9am but may change depending on departing . The team will help you use local online transport apps so you can plan your connection with flights or onward travel.

If you’re extending, you choose how to spend the day and the weekend. You can help the rangers, or rest and relax in the sanctuary, or head out to explore the local area or Sydney (see “Travel Highlights” for suggestions). You can jump on the free shuttle to Gosford Station on Friday morning with departing participants if you want to spend the day or the weekend exploring. Alternatively, you can arrange a taxi at a different time (taxis are at your own cost).

Sunday: On the weekends and days off, you choose how to spend the day either on site and relax or take a day trip from the Gosford train station. There will be a free pickup from Gosford Station at 6pm for volunteers returning from a day trip. Any other transport is by taxi (taxis are at your own cost). Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks follow the same schedule.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks follow the schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday, with weekends free.


Location icon Location of the Project: Calga, Australia

Project length Project length: Minimum 2 weeks – Maximum 4 weeks.

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Animal care, habitat preservation, sanctuary maintenance, guest services

Age Age: 18-81

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Between 1-8 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Volunteer tasks are split 50% between animal care and maintaining the vast sanctuary grounds.



What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared dormitory-style accommodation

Food Food: Three meals a day, self-service from fully stocked pantry

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Catch airport train from inside the Airport to Gosford Station, participants are picked up from Gosford Station. There is a convenient train station inside the Sydney Airport and you will have easy-to-follow instructions to get to Gosford, where you will be met by your driver. You will also have a direct phone number for the sanctuary with phone support and guidance.

Orientation Orientation: Orientation information session on arrival, and training on your first working day and ongoing.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, train fares between Sydney Airport Station and Gosford Station on arrival and departure days, personal expenses including transport on days off, travel health insurance, visa (if required)

This wildlife sanctuary is in Calga, the gateway between Sydney and Australia’s picturesque New South Wales Central Coast. Your accommodation is on-site in the wildlife sanctuary with the animals in the Australian bush.

Much of Australia’s Australia’s strange and wonderful wildlife is found nowhere else in the world. Tragically, over 1,700 Australian animals and plants are at risk of extinction. But you can make a difference!

Australia’s only Heritage Listed natural bush wildlife sanctuary needs your help. This small but dedicated team is a cooperative partnership between a not-for-profit environmental conservation foundation, the family that owns and operates the Wildlife Sanctuary, their dedicated staff of wildlife rangers, and volunteers like you.

One of their animal conservation programs is the breeding and release back into the wild of endangered native animal species, like the bilby and, since the 2019 2020 Australian mega-fires, the brush-tail rock wallaby, to restore endangered species’ populations in the wild.

Volunteers from abroad help the rangers as they work to protect native wildlife, implement conservation education programs, preserve wild habitat and safeguard Aboriginal heritage sites. The sanctuary is open to the public every day. However, unlike visiting a zoo, visitors to the sanctuary step into the animals’ wild world!

Situated on 170 acres, this is the only feral-free natural bush wildlife and cultural sanctuary on Australia’s eastern seaboard that runs is open to the public every day so that visitors can experience their unique conservation work and cultural education programs.

Natural enclosures on five acres are dedicated to lifelong refuge for over 60 species of rescued and recovered or recovering injured, displaced and orphaned animals that cannot go back into the wild, as well as animals confiscated from illegal traders, and endangered species in breed-for-release rewilding programs.

Those animals able to live independently are released to free-range, along with over 200 naturally occurring wild species of birds, frogs, mammals and reptiles, through 80 acres of native bush which is protected by a three-kilometre, state-of-the-art fence that keeps out foxes and feral dogs, cats and rabbits.

Volunteers work side by side with the rangers. Half of the time volunteers will be involved in animal care tasks, and the other half will be spent on maintaining the sanctuary itself.

Since the sanctuary was evacuated ahead of Australia’s mega-fires in 2019 and 2020, followed by border closures because of Covid-19 restrictions and the exclusion of international volunteers like you, and then 1-in-1,000 year flooding in 2022, the sanctuary is desperately in need of “more hands on deck” to repair storm damage and get what used to be routine maintenance and repair programs back on track, as well as looking after other guests who are returning and are the sanctuary’s only source of operational income.

However, with all of this, the team is absolutely committed to the animals’ wellbeing so at least 50% of your time will be spent helping the rangers to care for the animals’ daily needs.

Typical tasks may include:

  • Bush regeneration and habitat restoration
  • Maintaining fire breaks
  • Preparing food for the animals
  • Cleaning food preparation area and equipment
  • Raking to remove debris from animals’ enclosures
  • Harvesting fresh vegetation for the animals
  • Washing animals’ bedding
  • Animal enrichment activities
  • Repairing or building new enclosures and fences
  • Maintaining nature trails, tracks and paths
  • Repairing or erecting education displays
  • Maintaining the fox-proof fence, which protects the animals

Holidays: The sanctuary operates year round (animals need care every day) so the program remains open on public holidays like Christmas and New Year. Visitor numbers may increase on these days, which may change the work focus, but they are still normal working days.

Internet icon Internet: Free Wi-Fi is available in the accommodation.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry facilities are available just a short walk from your accommodation. A large wash load costs AU$4 and a large drying load costs AU$4. Handwashing and line drying are an option (and free).

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will stay in shared, dorm-style bunk-bed accommodation on-site. Linen, blankets, pillows and towels are supplied. Generally we do place participants into single gender dorms when possible, however this isn’t guaranteed. The accommodation offers coin-operated washing machines, a refrigerator, TV and kitchen. The hot water showers and the toilet block are a one-minute walk outdoors. Participants clean up after themselves and with daily chores to keep the accommodation tidy.

Food icon Food: Ingredients are provided, but volunteers prepare their own meals. Basic groceries for all meals supplied, including vegetarian and gluten-free. Snacks and luxuries and personal preferences at own cost. Participants do own cooking.

  • Interested in wildlife conservation and indigenous culture
  • Not afraid of animals and insects
  • Moderate level of physical fitness
  • Willing to work outside in all weather
  • Bring your own suitable work clothing, boots and rain gear
  • If over age 65, medical clearance is required
  • If wanting to work with flying foxes, rabies vaccine and recent blood titre levels are mandatory (not required to work with other animals)
  • Staff and volunteers must follow project site workplace protocols to ensure that the workplace is safe for animals and people
  • No smoking at the project site
  • Police clearance


Covid Safety:

  • All participants, along with all Walkabout staff, are required to show proof of double vaccination and, if 2nd vaccination was over 6 months before program start date, then a 3rd “booster” vaccination is highly recommended. The 3rd dose isn’t a mandatory requirement.
  • All participants, along with all Walkabout staff, follow a practical Covid safety plan to keep each other and susceptible animals safe, including social distancing, hand sanitization and masks in higher-risk circumstances.
  • Covid safety requirements may change with changing advice from Australian Health Orders and/or from Walkabout’s medical advisers.

Weekends free for you to relax and explore Australia’s most populous city, Sydney and its surrounds. Activities and places of interest include heritage sites, beaches, city sights, museums, walking tours and much more. Some interesting places include:

Sydney’s “The Rocks”
More than 100 heritage sites dating back to the 1700’s. On the harbour front under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks is a bustling hive of cafés, Aboriginal art shops, craft markets, buskers and street performers.

The Opera House
Australia’s most iconic building. Walk through the concert halls, relax outdoors at a café on the concourse or attend one of the venue’s forty shows per week. This landmark is a must-see for international travelers.

Hyde Park 
Peace and tranquility, right in the middle of the city. Stroll through Sydney’s oldest public park, picnic under the spreading canopy of hundred-year old fig trees, admire the gardens and enjoy the fountains.

The Blue Mountains
The perspective of height is magnified by the depths of the gorges carved by weather and water over 50 million years. Take a three-hour, scenic train ride to stand at one of the lookouts above this vast 11,000 square kilometer wilderness.

Bondi Beach
Sydney’s most famous beach. Bondi Beach is the perfect spot to relax on the sand in the sun, learn to surf, watch the waves, swim in the sea or just eat ice cream as you dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean.

Volunteer Experiences

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