Go on holiday, save some lives!: Australian Traveller looks at some of the volunteer travel options offered by Earthwatch.

The good people at Earthwatch are offering all interested persons the chance to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most fascinating – and vulnerable – creatures, all while immersing yourself in areas of the country you might never experience.

The not-for-profit environmental organisation whose mission it is to engage people in scientific field research is currently supporting more than 120 research expeditions around the globe – a dozen of which are right here on Australian shores. So if you’d like the chance to travel and work alongside some seriously dedicated field scientists and researchers, this could well be for you. So, which would you rather do: help the turtles of northwest WA, or look in on the echidnas of SA’s Kangaroo Island?

Turtles

In WA’sKimberley region, perhaps the least known ofAustralia’s turtles are the freshwater variety. And you’ll be camping out near stunning gorges, spending your days snorkelling and catching turtles, and your evenings measuring and examining them, then helping leading scientists process the data collected. The vital research you’ll be contributing to will help discover exactly how the population of this breed of turtle is managing in the wild, and whether or not measures are required to assist in their conservation.

Nights around the campfire, stunning Aboriginal rock art to contemplate, and a worthwhile cause to support. What could be better?

Echidnas

If you’re more keen to help out these spiky little fellows rather than their hard-shelled turtle cousins to the north, how does hiking aroundKangarooIsland sound?

On this expedition, Earthwatch volunteers will be continuing the work of a valuable 17-year look at the life histories and ecologies of individual echidnas on the island – so you’ll be helping to shed light on the fascinating biology of this species and how best to help protect the island ecosystem.KangarooIslandis teeming with an array of wildlife, so you’ll never be short of something interesting to get involved in there!

Costs range from $280 to $6000 to join an Earthwatch expedition, and each one lasts from two to 19 days. Your entry fee goes towards research costs, covers all lodging levies (accom, food, equipment), as well as on-the-job training – and even the costs of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from travel. You don’t need any scientific skills at all to participate – just a sense of adventure, a passion for the environment and a willingness to help out.

So if you’re between the ages of 18 and 90, call (03) 9682 6828 or check out www.earthwatch.org.au and find out how you can do your part.

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