Koala Conservation and Research in Victoria

Assist in providing a sustainable future for wild koalas in the You Yangs and on Raymond Island in the Gippsland Region of Victoria on this 2-week, hands-on program.

Program Overview

This exciting opportunity allows volunteers to help ensure a future for wild koalas. CISaustralia has partnered with a local not-for-profit and registered charity that supports the wild koalas of the Western Plains of Victoria, particularly around the You Yangs and Brisbane Ranges, west of Melbourne. The organisation aims to protect koalas in the wild through enhancement and protection of their natural habitat by:

  • Organising travellers and locals to maintain and improve existing koala habitats
  • Educating travellers and the local community of the threats to wild koalas, their environment and means to address these
  • Mobilising word of mouth and social media reach of the travel community worldwide to speak out in support of wild koalas and their environment
  • Involving travellers and the local community in citizen science research into wild koala behaviour
  • Creating partnerships with other organisations involved in koala protection, habitat creation and environment protection

Project Details:

  • Program Activities: Koala research, boneseed removal, habitat mapping, identification database, wildlife shelter support, promotion of community events and programs
  • Project Availability: Fixed program dates each year – see the program fees and dates tab (below) or contact CISaustralia for upcoming availability. Customised group dates may be available on request – please consult with CISaustralia
  • Project Duration: 2 weeks
  • Working Days: Monday-Friday
  • Location: There are two possible options for this program depending on time of year and availability:
    • 2 weeks spent in the You Yangs, Victoria
    • 1 week spent in the You Yangs and 1 week spent on Raymond Island in the Gippsland region
  • Support: 24-hour support from Project Leaders
  • A valid Police Check or Working With Children Check is required
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English

Highlights

  • Assist in providing a sustainable future for wild koalas.
  • Be a part of Research Teams to work on a variety of activities and tasks.
  • Gain practical insight into what is being done to protect koalas in the wild and their natural habitat.
  • Immerse in a meaningful experiential service learning experience.
  • Explore the beauty in and around the You Yangs Regional Park and Raymond Island.
  • Easy access to the bustling metropolis of Melbourne and the unparalleled beauty of the Great Ocean Road.
  • Meet people from all over Australia and possibly the world while expanding your horizons.
  • This volunteer experience is a natural stepping stone to an overseas program that offers a range of additional diverse cultural, environmental, sociological, marine and wildlife scenarios. Students who enjoy this program will naturally progress to the Wildlife Conservation and Rhino Research in Uganda and Rainforest Environmental Conservation in Peru programs, or another one of our conservation focused Volunteer Abroad Programs. Contact CISaustralia for more information.

Sample Itinerary

There are two possible options for this program depending on time of year and availability. One option is based around the You Yangs for both weeks, while the other spends one week around the You Yangs and one week on Raymond Island in the Gippsland region. Please note that this itinerary is a sample only and subject to change. 

YOU YANGS

Students will generally all work together on joint activities, induction, lectures etc. on Mondays and Fridays. Other days are spent in Research Teams working on a rotation of activities. Activities are subject to change pending final student numbers and weather conditions.

Monday

Orientation and overview including a full briefing on the koala research program. Visit the You Yangs and meet your Guide and Koala Researcher for the trip. Take an orientation walk around the koala research areas and learn about the tracks and tree species.

Tuesday-Thursday

Arrive at the meeting point in Geelong on time for transport to the project location. Work in Research Teams and rotate through different activities.

Friday

Visit a tree planting property to assess and maintain a large plantation of trees that have been planted to help koalas move out from the You Yangs Ranges onto the surrounding plains using rejuvenated forest as home. During the morning and early afternoon, monitor the condition of the young trees, repair any damage and, if the time of year is right, plant some trees. 

Students will be dropped back to the meeting point in Geelong at the end of each day.

RAYMOND ISLAND (if applicable)

Monday

Travel, orientation and overview day including a full briefing on the koala research program on Raymond Island. Take an orientation walk around some of the main research areas and learn about tree species.

Tuesday-Thursday

Work in Research Teams and rotate through different activities. Note the trees, locations and density of koalas are markedly different between the You Yangs and Raymond Island.

Friday

Lakeside interpretive walk – bird and mammal identification, introduce and record fauna living in the area. Use online atlas apps including Bird and iNaturalist. The recently-discovered and rare Burrunan Dolphin may be sighted in the lakes!

At the end of the day, travel back to Melbourne.

Note: As with any experiential service learning experience it is important to remember that things don’t always go to plan. During your placement, we ask that you remain patient, flexible and use initiative while volunteering.

The Volunteer's Role

This program has been developed and designed to give volunteers an immersive experiential service learning experience. During the program you may have the opportunity to work on the following activities:

Koala Field Research

  • Finding and monitoring koala movements and activities, tracking koala movements each week, plus in-rain observation of koalas stemflow drinking (if weather permits)
  • Skills: Field research, tree species identification, notes and GPS taking, binocular and camera use 

Boneseed Removal

  • Pulling out an invasive weed called boneseed that impedes the movements of koalas through the forest as it forms an impenetrable wall of vegetation
  • Skills: Practicalities of invasive weed removal, assess use of weed patch by native and feral species, invertebrate identification, small plant identification and mapping

Mapping

  • Taking GPS locations of where koalas are and where boneseed has been removed; transferring locations to computer-based maps
  • Creating a koala habitat map for the local community and transferring GPS locations of where koalas are found to it
  • Skills: Use and limitations of GPS, transferring to and creation of computer maps

Identification Database

  • Developing koala identification database
  • Skills: Computer skills, creating a citizen science platform  

Wildlife Shelter Support

  • Feed collection for koalas in care
  • Skills: Eucalyptus species identification, safety practices 

Tree Planting

  • During planting season, tree planting and practicalities of revegetation, species identification

Preparation and Promotion

  • In-office preparation and promotion of community events and programs
  • Skills: Promotion and publicity, communications, social media, marketing

Presentations

  • Volunteers may present a planned short presentation to Raymond Island Koala Group on findings 
  • Skills: Presenting data to the public/interest groups, community engagement

Excursions

There are a variety of activities and places of interest volunteers can choose to visit on their own (at own expense) outside of project hours. The on-site Project Leaders can give recommendations for excursions in and near the area.

Location

You Yangs Regional Park is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Wadawurrung People offering magnificent views, hiking and birdlife. The name “You Yang” comes from the Aboriginal words Wurdi Youang or Ude Youang which could have any number of meanings from “big mountain in the middle of a plain”, “big or large hill” or “bald”. The You Yangs are home to more than 200 bird species as well as eastern grey kangaroos, echidnas, swamp wallabies, sugar gliders, brushtail and ringtail possums and koalas.

Raymond Island in the Gippsland region is approximately 6km long and 2km wide just off the coast from Paynesville. It is an ideal destination for wildlife lovers and is home to a large koala population, originally introduced to the island in 1953. The island offers some of the best koala-spotting around.

Accommodation

While volunteering in the You Yangs, volunteers are responsible for arranging their own accommodation. Each morning students are required to arrive at the meeting point in Geelong for transport to the project location.

While on Raymond Island, 4 nights accommodation is provided in a 4-person or 8-person shared bunk room. The accommodation is basic, safe, clean and comfortable. Students are required to bring their own linen (sheets, blanket/sleeping bag), pillow, pillow case and bath towel(s). Note that accommodation could be mixed gender and could be shared with others not on the program. We always try for standalone rooms for program participants, however this cannot be guaranteed.

Students are responsible for their own meals and any associated cost. Please ensure you budget accordingly. A communal kitchen and dining facilities are available for use at the accommodation on Raymond Island. Volunteers can purchase supplies on the mainland before travelling to the island. There is a supermarket and restaurants close to the ferry terminal on the mainland. (The ferry is free for walk-on passengers). Students can shop for themselves and cook onsite.

Program Fee & Dates

You Yangs - Set program dates
This program is available on fixed program dates for 2 weeks. There is a minimum of 6 and maximum of 22 participants for this program (pending the time of year and available staff). Application deadline is 30 days prior to commencement. Places are limited. Please enquire for upcoming availability.
Program Fee A$ 1,599
OS-HELP A$ 0
You Yangs & Raymond Island - Set program dates
This program is available on fixed program dates for 2 weeks. There is a minimum of 6 and maximum of 22 participants for this program (pending the time of year and available staff). Application deadline is 30 days prior to commencement. Places are limited. Please enquire for upcoming availability.
Program Fee A$ 1,699
OS-HELP A$ 0

 

Program fees include the following:
  • Volunteer placement and supervision
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • On-site orientation and project induction
  • Daily transport from Geelong to project location
  • Return transport from Melbourne to Raymond Island (if applicable)
  • 4 nights accommodation on Raymond Island (if applicable)
  • Program activities
  • Research mentoring and training
  • Donation to on-site program partner
  • On-site support – Project Leaders
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)

What is not included:

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Police or Working With Children Check
  • Accommodation in Geelong
  • Linen (required for Raymond Island, if applicable)
  • Meals
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the dates in your acceptance paperwork and you are confirmed on the program.

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to fee changes made by our partners.

Adventure Awaits

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