If you want to do some volunteer work in conjunction with national parks and land care groups to create projects or nature holidays, then this is for you.
Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) is a non-profit community group and for 20 years they have operated projects in rural and urban areas at the rate of around 1000 a year.
Every week of the year, volunteers who number over 10,000 do wonderful work out of CVA's 20 offices.
They work in conjunction with national parks, local councils, farmers and land care groups to create projects or nature holidays. CVA does not own the land where projects take place; they are purely co-ordinators of tasks at hand.
All projects share one thing. They do something positive to protect the country's natural heritage and leave the environment in better condition. This is achieved by planting trees, building fences to protect various types of bush or to keep feral animals out, removing weeds, making walking tracks and boardwalks which protect land underneath, and surveying animals.
Most projects run from Monday to Friday, though those in remote areas can last for two to three weeks. Weekend and day projects are available close to capital cities.
All teams have six to 10 volunteers and a CVA team leader who ensures safety and keeps everyone motivated.
Apart from all the good it does for the country and the feeling of satisfaction gained, it is a really inexpensive way to have a holiday in some unusual areas.
Volunteers pay a flat fee of $23 a night and that covers accommodation, all meals and transport between the closest CVA office and the site.
Accommodation is basic tents are provided by CVA or national parks cabins or shearing quarters are used.
Breakfast, morning tea, lunch and dinner are provided and volunteers just help themselves.
Some of the very worthwhile projects CVA is or has been involved with are penguin surveys on Tasmania's east coast, tracking yellow-footed rock wallabies in the Flinders Ranges and surveying coastal rainforest in remote Arnhem Land. They have helped protect the Great Barrier Reef from sediment run off by building walking tracks on Hinchinbrook Island and throughout the Atherton Tablelands, and turtles have been monitored on Bare Sand Island in the Northern Territory.
Getaway was invited to see the work they are doing for penguins off Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales.
Bowen Island in Booderee National Park is home to around 10,000 penguins and their numbers need to be carefully monitored not an easy task when they are on the move. Counting is done at dusk when they are all at least travelling in the one direction, home to their burrows after a day in the ocean looking for food.
Unwelcome weeds are removed and replaced with native growth which improves the birds' habitat. Invasive weeds are removed by shovel, bagged and taken to the mainland to be destroyed so preventing their regeneration.
The colony's general health is checked and fish numbers are taken into account. Conditions which impact on fish quantities create a situation which will ultimately affect the penguins' wellbeing.