Beach clean ups, tree planting, looking after turtles and doing a spot of gardening on tropical islands are just some of the ways you can volunteer your time to the environment in North Queensland.
With evidence showing that volunteering is good for mental health, what better way to promote your own wellbeing than working outside in nature for a good cause.
Whether you’re an eco-tourist wanting to do something for the environment while on holidays or you’re a local wanting to donate time to an important cause, there are plenty of ways you can make a difference.
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Bird counting, beach clean ups and gardening are often opened up to volunteers to help out the caretakers on the Low Isles, located off the coast of Port Douglas.
This tiny commonwealth island and coral cay is a nature reserve and home to the first lighthouse built in Queensland. It is a protected island and volunteers help with activities to preserve the wildlife and natural habitat.
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Tangaroa Blue is a fantastic organisation that runs regular beach clean ups around Australia with lots happening around North Queensland all the way up to Cape York.
They list beach clean up locations and dates on their website and once you register you just need to turn up on the day.
Beach clean ups usually run from 8am through to lunchtime. Volunteers help pick up rubbish as well as weight and sort all the debris so the information can be added to a national database.
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The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Cairns and Fitzroy Island relies on volunteer support to help run the centres by spending a few hours in the mornings chopping up squid and raw prawns, scooping poop out of the tanks and helping with other general odd jobs.
While volunteer work at the centre is highly sought after and often full with volunteers there are sometimes days when they are short on help so it is worth contacting them to see if they need assistance.
Only adults are allowed to volunteer to work with the turtles for insurance purposes.
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Run by James Cook University, the reseach station on Orpheus Island near Townsville offers opportunities for volunteers to spend a few days on the island in exchange for a few hours work a day.
Volunteers help with weeding, collecting cane toads and other odd jobs around the premises.
The accommodation provided is in bunk bed dorm rooms with shared kitchen and lounge facilities. Food is not provided so you need to take all your own supplies.
Once you’ve completed your chores for the day volunteers are free to spend the rest of their days snorkelling and exploring the island.
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There are many community groups across the region who hold regular tree planting days and they are always on the look-out for extra volunteers to help.
Historic land clearing for forestry, agriculture and urban development has caused various problems in the landscapes and ecosystems of North Queensland.
In areas like Mission Beach, tree plantings are often targeted at re-establishing important habitat corridors for cassowaries because they are large creatures that need to move across large distances for food etc.
In the Tablelands, groups are involved in revegetating areas of rainforest including endangered Mabi rainforest. There is only about 4% if this rainforest type left and it is a habitat for endangered tree kangaroos.
Tree plantings also help the reef by holding back sediment from waterways and helping to filter human pollution such as fertilisers and pesticides.
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- To find out about more volunteering opportunities in the Wet Tropics go to the Wet Tropics Management Authority website