Travel from Cairns out to the rainforests of northern Queensland to work with wildlife

Looking for a holiday with a difference? Immerse yourself in the magic of the rainforest on this week-long Earthwatch Rainforest Expedition in Northern Queensland. Partake in data collection, surveying and other fieldwork with like-minded people in one of the most remarkable natural settings in the world. Learn all about the local flora and fauna and how climate change is impacting this delicate ecosystem, be dazzled by the beauty of the surrounds and feel humbled contributing to this truly worthy project.

Cairns, Australia
Cairns, Australia
Expedition, Wildlife
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 6 Max 12
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


  • We have partnered with globally renowned 'Earthwatch Institute' to offer this unique opportunity
  • Spend a week with renowned Australian scientists, gaining insight into the flora and fauna of Northern Australia
  • Explore lowland rainforests, spectacular mountains covered in cooler upland rainforests, beaches, and coral habitats just off the shore


Welcome to the Earthwatch Rainforest Expedition!

You are about to begin a journey of discovery in the fascinating tropical rainforest environment of North Queensland, Australia. The global significance of these rainforests is recognised by their complete protection as a World Heritage Area. The expedition you are about to join will give you insight into the fragile nature of rainforest ecosystems, and hopefully will also give you an appreciation of their importance and an awareness of the threats our rainforests face with respect to global climate change. As a volunteer, your help is essential to collect vital data which will be used to build a better understanding of the effects of climate change on this fragile habitat, and to give us the knowledge to help minimise these impacts.

On Day 1 Earthwatch Project staff members (Steve, Collin or Nadiah) will meet you at the coffee shop in the International Terminal of Cairns International Airport at 9:30 or 12:30 p.m (please check at time of booking to confirm time) from where you will be transferred to our camp, either South Johnstone Forestry Camp, Noah Beach, Windsor Uplands or Shipton's Flat. The location of our expedition will depend on research needs at the time.

On arrival at the camp, we’ll have lectures and training sessions to orient you to the general biogeography, flora and fauna of the region. Another talk will be given on the “dos and don’ts” of rainforest fieldwork, including the most likely hazards and ways to avoid and/or deal with them. All volunteers will be trained in a variety of field skills and survey techniques.

Field groups will consist of one local expert engaged in full-time research in the region and a maximum of four volunteers for each activity, allowing three activities to be conducted at a time. The activities will take place at almost all times of day, starting with dawn bird surveys and continuing right through to late-night spotlighting and frog surveys. Most activities will take between two and four hours each.

Groups will engage in a variety of activities over a typical day, and you’ll rotate through these activities to maximise your experience and learning opportunities. We will arrange rotations to minimise excessive fatigue as much as possible; for example, those engaged in late-night activities will not usually do dawn bird surveys the next day. There should be plenty of time for extra experience in any particular activity that interests you.

Weather and research needs can lead to changes in the daily schedule. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

A typical day in the field might be:
Getting up before dawn (for people doing bird surveys that morning), having a quick breakfast and hot drink, and then going to a site to spend about two hours conducting bird surveys. Other volunteers will get up a bit later, have breakfast, and prepare equipment for the day’s activities. The team will then have a break for morning tea. Some groups will do reptile surveys for about three hours in the middle of
the day, then measure the lizards and return them to the sites where they were caught. Other activities during the day may include sampling for ants, examining the microhabitats of frogs in the leaf litter, downloading data loggers when necessary and measuring the animals caught that day. Generally, mid to late afternoons are unscheduled, so you can rest or swim before dinner preparation. After dinner, one to three groups will go spotlighting for mammals, geckos, and microhylid frogs. The remaining team members get to relax and have an early night.

On Day 7 you will be transferred to you accommodation if you are staying in Cairns overnight or back at Cairns Airport. Drop off will be by 2pm, so please to not book your departing flight earlier than 3pm for domestic or 4pm for international.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
Camping (with basic facilities) (6 nights)


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Important notes

1. The Pick Up time for this trip will vary depending on your departure date. Please check with your booking agent.
2. You will need to have good fitness and health to take part in this trip as the majority takes place outdoors, in all types of weather and terrain.
3. This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Earthwatch.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes