Help us in our wildlife sanctuary in Calga, Australia

  • Australia
  • Favourited 399 times
  • Last activity: 29/01/2023



 Min stay requested: at least 3 weeks



  • Description


    We are a working wildlife sanctuary looking after 60+ species of Australian native wildlife and 80 acres of fox-proofed bush habitat.


    We need Workawayers who are happy to do whatever job needs doing. Please note that Workaway work is usually NOT directly with the animals. The Workaway program is mostly focussed on maintenance and cleaning up after humans.

    Everyone on our team is covid vaccinated, so we do need you to be too. We do ask you to send a copy of your covid vaccination certificate to us.


    Our ranger team looks after 200+ animals. Animals are either unreleasable wild rescues that need lifelong care or a prolonged rehabilitation, or they are in one of our endangered species "breed for release" wild recovery programs. Many are in enclosure because of the level of care they need, while lots are free-ranging through the sanctuary and may choose to interact with people. Because we DON'T let people feed them, and we control human behaviour on site, the animals and people can (if they want to) choose to interact - or not.

    We also protect Aboriginal sites. Our sanctuary and the rest of the small "Calga Valley" is heritage listed because it is such an important cultural place, for everyone, but most particularly for Aboriginal women.

    The sanctuary always runs on a very tight budget because we are funded only by visitors buying entry tickets and spending in our gift shop or joining one of our education programs. But we're a determined team and won't be held back by resource constraints. We're always stretching whatever income we get to do more, and we have learned through bushfires and covid interrupting our work that we have to be sustainable and put away any extra that comes in to fund the periods when we have little or no income so that our animals' care is continuous.

    Our volunteers are essential to our being able to do what we do - so thank you for wanting to help us. Everything we (and you) do is for the animals, even when the work is not hands-on animal work.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
    Help with Computers/ Internet
  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Emerse yourself in the real Australian bush.

    Volunteer alongside Aussies and other international travellers.

    Experience what goes on behind the scenes in a a real working wildlife sanctuary.

    Live with Australia's weird and wonderful animals. Hang out with the friendliest kangaroos and emus in Australia.

    Go spotlighting at night as the bush comes alive after sunset. Yes you can touch (most of) the animals.

    To answer some common questions: No you're not allowed to feed the wildlife. Yes this is the real bush. Yes we do have snakes and spiders. Yes we will explain to you how we share the bush safely with the wildlife (we've lived and worked here safely for many years). No this does NOT count towards your 2nd year visa.

    If you have other questions that need answering, please message us.

    We do have rules about personal socialising with staff out of hours...

    Please note, our staff are not allowed to socialise out-of-hours or off-premises with Workawayers. We have (we believe) the best workplace in the world, we are a friendly team of staff and volunteers who enjoy working together, we relax in our breaks and there's lots of comfortable banter even while we are working, we love that everyone on our team (that includes our Workawayers) says our workplace is their "happy place". From time to time we do have a team get together out-ofohours with staff and volunteers. However, any kind of personal socialising off premises and out of hours - except at a team events - is not ok.

  • Help


    Volunteers with us live and help in out wildlife in Calga in the NSW Central Coast Hinterland.


    We need Workawayers who are happy to do whatever job needs doing. Please note that Workaway work is usually NOT directly with the animals. The Workaway program is mostly focussed on maintenance and cleaning up after humans.

    We need general help - mostly cleaning and maintenance - but it could be absolutely anything. Hands-on animal work is minimal as most of this work is done by our ranger team, but you may be called on to help from time to time.


    From time to time you may be asked to help the rangers with an animal-related task like chopping fruit and vegetables for the daily "food prep" or raking an enclosure. However, most of the time you would be doing things like pushing wheelbarrows of heavy cement or mulch; spring-cleaning the kitchen and oven; washing windows; dusting shop stock - everything gets really dusty really quickly; scrubbing the veranda; collecting rocks; digging holes; laundry (for animals or people); raking kangaroo poo from the tracks; weeding the 2km perimeter fence-line; making signs or cleaning signs; sweeping spider webs off walls (yes, we do have spiders - this is the Aussie bush); cleaning toilets and showers; collecting firewood; dealing with blocked drains; cleaning cabins; cleaning BBQ's; fixing paths; mopping out tents; folding laundry; picking up rubbish in the carpark; replacing fencing; carrying "stuff"; and whatever building or maintenance project is on the go when you are here.

    Although the work we need help with is not usually directly animal related, everything we do is for the animals, and the animals are always around.

    We need people who are physically and emotionally fit - our environment is pretty rough and rugged. You will need to be able to do strenous work in all weather conditions, not be afraid to get dirty, and want to be part of a small but AMAZING team.

    If you have special skills like handyman experience or sign-writing or path construction or plant propagation, let us know. There are so many jobs, both general and specialised, that we need to get done. It may be that your special skills are just what we need when you are here. But please be prepared that they may not be, and we might need you to help with anything or everything else instead.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation



    The accommodation is very basic, but comfortable. Workawayers may share a bunk-room with other volunteers. Beds are triple bunks, so there isn't much headroom when you sit up in bed.


    You do. Workawayers do their own housework and laundry, and we do have strict rules about everyone doing their share of the work. Workawayers also do the housework for other residential guests such as individuals and groups doing internships or participating in other residential education programs.


    We stock the pantry with basic groceries. If you want extras, you will need to buy them yourself. You will be sharing the pantry with other residential guests including Workawayers and guests participating in other programs. You can expect to find cereal, bread and spreads, cow and oats milks, fruit and vegetables, different kinds of canned beans, humus, cordial (concentrated fruit drink that you mix with water), eggs, ham, chicken and sausages. We don't cater for complicated special diets, although having a stocked pantry means you do have choices on what to put together for your meals - and there are usually good instant options like cup-a-soup and intstant noodles. The 2 diets that might be too hard to fully accommodate are vegan and gluten free. We do our best, but can't always provide the variety you might need (although you are welcome to supply your own food if you prefer).


    You do. We ask all resident guests to be considerate of each other, to prepare meals together (unless you have an unusual diet), and to clean up after themselves. Workawayers also do the cooking for other residential guests such as individuals and groups doing internships or participating in other residential education programs.

  • What else ...

    What else ...


    The train and bus station at Gosford are a 20 minute car drive from us, and their is no public transport. You will not be able to leave the sanctuary on work days (and after work) as we are in an isolated area with no public transport. We try to fit in trips for you to the station on your days off, but work pressure does not always allow this.

    We head out to the shops most days to pick up donated food for our animals, but this is at fixed times (often early in the morning) but these are good times to get a lift into Gosford. Or tell us what you need from the shops and we can pick it up for you.

    It's an hour-and-a-half by train from Gosford to Sydney or Newcastle. Or you can get a bus from Gosford to the beach at Terrigal or the big shopping mall at Erina. Or you may want to just relax at the sanctuary on your days off and enjoy the peace and quiet.

    Ubers and taxis are pretty expensive because we are "in the bush"!


    You will need to wear the right kind of clothes!

    You will need hiking boots or other sturdy footwear that support your ankles and are suitable for rugged ground. You will need long cargo workpants or comfortable (not tight) jeans. Even if you are working in the house, remember you may be called on at anytime to go and help with something outdoors and in the bush, so you do need to wear suitable clothes at all times, just in case.

    Leggings (tight stretch pants) and shorts and singlets (sleeveless shirts) are NEVER acceptable work wear.

    You will need to buy two Volunteer t-shirts at $15 each so that you are identifiable as being on the team (as, otherwise, visitors and staff get confused about who is who). You should also bring your own plain-coloured (no slogans or pictures) dark t-shirts - navy blue, dark green or black - in case you need more than 2 shirts.

    You will need a warm jacket - we wear fleecy jackets as they are light and comfortable and practical. You will need to look professional when at work. If you have a navyblue coloured jacket, you will blend in well with the rest of the team. You will also need rain gear that covers you from neck to knee. We do work outdoors in the rain.

    Hats are really important, as is sunscreen, in the Australian sun. And we strongly recommend insect repellent so that you don't get eaten by mosquitoes, ticks, ants, spiders or leeches.

    We usually have second hand clothes items, and even boots, donated by previous volunteers, so we may be able to loan you what you don't have. We can't promise this, but we can usually find you what you need.


    Smoking and vaping:
    Our wildlife sanctuary is a smoking-free and vaping-free zone.

    For so many reasons, our wildlife sanctuary is an alcohol-free zone. And no, you can't have alcohol on the premises even if it is sealed and you have no intention of drinking it. If you have alcohol on premises, it must be handed in to management for safe-keeping until you leave. If you drink alcohol while away from the sanctuary on your days off, that's ok, as long as you drink safely and in moderation. Please note, though, that you will not be allowed back on the premises if you are intoxicated.

    Prescription pain medication and medical marijuana:
    We're sorry but you may not have prescription pain medication or legally prescribed medical marijuana in our wildlife sanctuary. We are advocates for medical marijuana as we believe people who need it should have legal access to it. However, we also have a legal and moral obligation to make sure that you and others are safe in our bush workplace. If you have such pain that you need this type of treatment, or if the treatment itself can impair alertness, then we cannot allow you to work in our wildlife sanctuary.

    Other drugs:
    We have absolute zero tolerance for drugs, any drugs. And no, you may not even use drugs when you are off duty and away from the Sanctuary. And no, you can't have drugs on the premises even if they are in tiny quantities and they are sealed and you have no intention to use them.


    We do have a "no mobile phone with you while you are working". Except for our Lead Rangers, no-one has a phone with them while they are working. Phones must stay at the accommodation (not in your pocket).

    When you are off duty you are welcome to 'be a tourist' and have your phone out and take all the photos and videos you like. We do ask you, however, to be responsible about posting images on line. We will talk to you about what is and is not ok to post when you arrive.

    We want to make sure that we don't inadvertently promote "animal tourism" and animal exploitation. Please help us to help the animals by ensuring that our photos show respect and care for the animals in our wildlife sanctuary.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    We usually have parking space for a small campervan on site - check with us when you book.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Working hours are usually 5 days a week and usually on weekends, 8:30am to 10:30am, 11am to 1pm, 1:30pm to 3:30pm, then knock off for the day. This often changes.

Host ref number: 735968185889

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