Native Australian Wildlife in the Tropics in Queensland

Spend 2 weeks at a wildlife sanctuary near Port Douglas in Northern Queensland. Predominantly species in the park are endemic to the wet tropics region within a 300 – 500 km radius, however all are QLD endemic. The sanctuary is home to over 600 animals and 100 different species including the Southern Cassowary and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo.

Program Overview

If you are to committed to wildlife conservation, then this native Australian wildlife-based program is for you! CISaustralia has partnered with a local wildlife park with an ethos of observation, appreciation and conservation. It has been open to the public since 1989 and is focused on animal conservation while providing joy to locals and visitors. It has proven itself to be a leading Queensland wildlife park and is part of the CaPTA Group (Cairns and Port Trips and Attractions). While CaPTA’s business focus is centred around tourism products, the group has also expanded into tourism and indigenous training.

The project site has over 600 animals and 100 different native species, including the Southern Cassowary and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. Predominantly species in the park are endemic to the wet tropics region within a 300 – 500 km radius, however all are QLD endemic. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with real tropical wildlife!

Note that volunteers must be physically fit and in good health to participate. High temperatures and humidity are to be expected, particularly in summer. This is a physically demanding program with a full range of regular outdoor workplace activities.

Project Details:

  • Program Activities: Preparing food for native wildlife; koala leaf collection and distribution; plant identification and collection; guided tours of the park with keepers; customer engagement, educational presentations and tours; upkeep and maintenance of displays, exhibits, park and enclosures; animal handling opportunities
  • 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: Tuesday-Saturday
  • Location: Port Douglas, Queensland
  • Support: 24-hour support from Project Leaders
  • A valid Police Check or Working With Children Check is required
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English


  • Opportunity to work with real tropical wildlife at a local wildlife park.
  • Work alongside wildlife keepers committed to wildlife conservation.
  • Immerse in a meaningful experiential service learning experience.
  • Explore the beauty in and around Port Douglas and tropical north Queensland with easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Rainforest.
  • 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 takes place in a very different environment and offers a range of additional diverse cultural, environmental, sociological, marine and wildlife scenarios. Students who enjoy this program will naturally progress to the Big Five Wildlife Management and Conservation in South Africa program, or another one of our conservation focused Volunteer Abroad Programs. Contact CISaustralia for more information.

Sample Itinerary

Please note that this itinerary is a sample only and subject to change. 

The wildlife park is open 7 days a week. As a volunteer, you will be scheduled to work 3 days on and have 1 day off over a 2-week period. During the program, you will be working alongside wildlife keepers/rangers and the onsite volunteer coordinator. Volunteering at a wildlife park is physical by nature and can be quite strenuous due to the tropical climate. Some of the tasks that are required of volunteers are part of the daily routine and may seem repetitive to some students. We remind you to keep an open mind and be flexible and adaptable with the scheduling.


  • Arrival and check into accommodation


  • Orientation
  • Free day – we recommend you use this time to settle in and familiarise yourself with the local area


  • Project induction
  • Commence volunteer work in the park


  • Volunteer work


  • Free time


  • Volunteer work


  • Free time


  • Volunteer work


  • The last day of work is generally a half-day
  • Opportunity for a free koala photo
  • Complete a feedback form to provide information about your experience (you will be required to provide a completed feedback form in order to receive a Certificate of Participation and a letter of reference, if requested, from the wildlife park)


  • Free time


  • Check out of accommodation and program departure

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.

COVID Safe Travel

The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. We take our duty of care for our students, their families and our Australian University partners seriously. For all of our program locations, we have developed a site-specific COVID-19 risk matrix and risk management and emergency response plans so that health and safety response protocols are monitored, managed and communicated.

In preparation for your Australian volunteer program, it’s important that you carefully read and understand information related to COVID-19 Travel Safety.

The Volunteer's Role

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

  • Preparing food for native wildlife (e.g. chopping fruit)
  • Cleaning and maintenance of animal enclosures
  • Koala leaf collection and distribution
  • Upkeep of park displays and exhibits
  • Plantation maintenance
  • General park maintenance tasks
  • Greeting and engaging with park visitors
  • Joining keepers on guided tours of the park
  • Koala food plantation work
  • Animal handling opportunities
  • Plant identification and collection
  • Wildlife interactions
  • Daily zookeeper routines
  • Daily park educational presentations and tours

Please be aware that all activities are subject to availability. You may not have the opportunity to participate in all activities listed during your program. The onsite team aims to provide you with a well-rounded experience, however some activities may not be possible due to the duration or timing of your program. We encourage you to remain flexible and open-minded.


There are a variety of activities, attractions and things to do in and around Port Douglas that volunteers can choose to do on their own (at own expense) outside of project hours. Take a look at the Port Douglas Tourism website for ideas and suggestions. 

If you are interested in doing a Great Barrier Reef trip from Cairns, please speak with your CISaustralia Program Advisor about a discounted rate available for all CISaustralia students.


This program is based in Port Douglas, a tropical town on the Coral Sea in the far north of Queensland (1-hour drive north of Cairns). It is known for its beach resorts and as a base for visits to both the Great Barrier Reef (the world’s largest reef system) and Daintree National Park (home to a biodiverse rainforest). Port Douglas is where the rainforest meets the reef – in fact it is the only place on the planet where two World Heritage Listed places meet!

In town, Macrossan Street is lined with boutique shops and restaurants. Four Mile Beach is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.


Accommodation is included for the duration of this program (14 nights) at a backpackers hostel. Students will share basic mixed gender dorm rooms in a safe, clean and comfortable location. Note that accommodation could be shared with others not on the program. We always try for standalone rooms for program participants, however this cannot be guaranteed.

The hostel has a relaxed home-like feel. All rooms have air-conditioning and private lockers. The facilities include a communal self-catering kitchen, free Wi-Fi, hammocks, lagoon style swimming pool, games, books, outdoor barbeques, communal lounge area, free luggage storage, paid bike hire, reading lights, laundry facilities, hair dryers for hire, tour desk and cinema room. It is NOT a 5-star party hostel, rather it is a quiet, basic, laid back place where you can chill out, relax and recharge after a day of volunteering.

The accommodation is located between the Coral Sea, local rainforest and the Port Douglas village. It is only a 5-minute drive to the project site (daily transport service is included on workdays).

Breakfast and lunch are provided at the wildlife park on workdays. Students are responsible for all other meals and any associated cost. Please ensure you budget accordingly. A communal kitchen is available for use at the hostel. If you have any dietary requirements or allergies, please advise your CISaustralia Program Advisor.

Program Fee & Dates

2 WEEKS (Set dates only)
This program is available on fixed program dates only. Programs start on a Sunday and end on a Sunday. Application deadline is 90 days prior to commencement. There is a maximum of 9 participants for this program at any one time. Please see enquire for upcoming availability.
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 3,599 - 4,999


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
  • Accommodation – shared dorm or private room (subject to availability) at a backpackers hostel
  • Meals – breakfast and lunch on workdays
  • Daily transport service to and from the accommodation to project site (5-minute drive)
  • Program activities
  • Project uniform (shirt)
  • Program risk matrix and COVID-19 risk assessment
  • Risk Management and Emergency Response Plan
  • On-site support – Project Leaders
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)

What is not included:

  • Program application fee
  • Flights (CISaustralia will however provide travel guidance and support via our formal travel partner)
  • Airport transfers
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Police or Working With Children Check
  • Meals (other than those mentioned above)
  • 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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