Frequently Asked Questions
Can anyone volunteer?
We do not require volunteers to have any previous experience, but we do require volunteers to be enthusiastic and willing. There are restrictions on volunteers who are not yet 18 years of age. Read our policy on volunteers under 18 years before applying.
What will my volunteering experience be like?
It is esentially camping on a sandy, hot, almost treeless, isolated island, with a small group of fellow volunteers, but with sea turtle research at its core. Each volunteer is provided with their own tent, while the communal area consists of a reserch dome, cooking & food preparation gazebo, food tent, equipment tent, and a distant toilet. We also have two small boats which allow us to visit adjacent islands when sea conditions allow. Most of the sea turtle research is conducted during the night or early mornings during the coolest part of a day.
What will I get to do?
We encourage volunteers to experience all aspects of the research camp, including measurements of nesting turtles & hatchlings, hatched nest data, data entry, food preparation, cooking, & camp housekeeping duties. There is ample time for you to relax, or be more active & adventurous. See the volunteers' photo gallery showing what they have got up to!
Are we allowed to go fishing?
Yes you can. Fishing is permitted in the waters off and around BSI. While some basic fishing gear is provided by AusTurtle Inc. we suggest you bring your own if you are a keen fisherman.
Can I volunteer for a few days?
No, volunteers must volunteer for the full week. There is considerable cost to transport volunteers to the island and there is no regular boat service to it.
Can I get a refund if I pull out?
Yes, but it is conditional. You need to inform us you can no longer attend before the 1st of May so we can find a replacement. Please read our refund policy.
Can I put my name down on a waiting list?
Yes you can. Click on the booking button and proceed as if you are applying. The automated ticketing system will inform you if all the tickets have been sold, and will give you the option for you to place yourself on a waiting list. If you do this we will contact you if a place becomes available to see if you still wish to volunteer.
Why are there reserved places for university students?
In weeks 3 to 6 there are two volunteering spots for students in the following fields veterinary, biology or environmental sciences. This is because a number of students use their time on Bare Sand Island to gain credit points for their degrees. AusTurtle Inc. will reserve these places until 6th April 2020. If they are not filled by students, they will be released to all wishing to participate. If you are a student wishing to book a place to use for university credit, please contact austurtle via email to have one spot allocate to you.
On the TryBooking website, it says that more places are available but when I try to book it says 'Sold Out'. What's happening?
See above answer. AusTurtle Inc. reserves 2 spots for veterinary, biology or environmental science students until 6th April 2020. After this date they will be released to all wishing to participate.
When booking flights what time do I need to arrive in Darwin by?
We recommend arriving the night before the start date of volunteering (in case of flight delays). If you miss the boat which usually departs at 10am (departure time will be re-confirmed in the days before volunteering starts) it is unlikely we can get you to Bare Sand Island.
How long will it take to get from my accommodation to boat departure point?
The boat departs from the Cullen Bay Ferry Terminus. Travel time from the city to Cullen Bay is only 10 min. Travel time from anywhere within 20kms of the city allow 30 min.
Do I need to do any preparation or background reading?
If you are reasonably fit there is nothing you need to do, except to read the volunteering manual. Volunteers are required to walk significant distances (approximately 5-8km in soft sand) each night. So you do need a reasonable level of fitness. If you consider yourself unfit we recommend you start walking daily at least a month prior to volunteering, and reach a level of fitness at which you can walk a 5km distance easily.
Do I need to bring a tent and sleeping mat?
No, AusTurtle will supply both of these, but if you really want to you are welcome to bring your own. We recommend you bring your own sheet (for the sleeping mat), a pillow, and a sleeping bag.
Do I need to buy a head torch for volunteering?
No, AusTurtle can supply you with one for the duration of your stay. If you already own one and want to bring it, or wish to buy your own it must have a red light/LED option.
What do you need to bring?
There is a list in the volunteering manual containing the items we strongly recommend you need and require.
Do I need to bring money?
No you don’t. There will be some sea turtle merchandise on the island for volunteers to purchase if they wish to, but we can arrange you to pay for this on your return to civilisation.
Are there safety protocols in place in case of an accident?
As we conduct this research in association with Charles Darwin University we are required to follow all their workplace practices and emergency procedures for fieldwork in remote locations. On the island we have access to a satellite phone, EPIRB’s, and a comprehensive first aid kit. A CareFlight helicopter based in Darwin is capable of being on Bare Sand Island (BSI) within 30 minutes.
In 15 years of research on BSI we have not had a life threatening incident.
Photo Credit: Kjell Hensen