Volunteering in Australia at the Wild Animal Sanctuary project was an experience of a lifetime. I am not a frequent traveler, but this program made me feel welcomed immediately. I am typically a shy person, so this program allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and gave me great opportunities to grow as a person. The leaders helped me explore several cities and took me to multiple different landmarks to site see. The first week of this program is an orientation week in Port Stephens, which many other programs that I looked at when booking a trip didn’t offer this. This was by far my favorite week. We did things including visiting animal sanctuaries, learning about Australian culture, hiking, swimming in the ocean, sand boarding, watching the sunset, and did several other adventurous activities.
The remainder of my weeks I was volunteering with the wildlife on the weekdays. Throughout the three weeks that I was there, we visited separate animal rescue facilities that were in the backyards of two different houses. The two women that run these non-profit organizations are very kind and have a strong passion for animals. At the first project we went to we built an aviary for the large number of opossums there.
There were also countless birds as well and occasionally a penguin would come through. The second facility that we went to had a few kangaroos and koalas. Although there wasn’t as much animal interaction as I would have hoped for, it was rewarding building cages, cleaning cages, painting opossum boxes, sewing cloth onto fences, and cutting branches for these animals. It was nice to see the help that we provided for the animals and for the women in charge, who sometimes needed a break from all of the hard work that they do.
When we were given free time, we planned a few trips. Our project was moved down to Melbourne, so we were surrounded more by the city life. Myself, along with a few others in the group, planned a two-day trip through the Great Ocean Road to do some more site seeing. We also went paddle boarding, had picnics in the Botanical Gardens, and ventured through Melbourne’s night life.
Overall, this experience was a great adventure! I had exposure to animals I had never seen before, saw several different landmarks, and met a lot of great people along the way. I plan to stay in touch with a few of them and possibly might even meet up with them again in the future!