Want an alternative way to spend your Aussie trip? You can't get more different than volunteering on a scientific dive expedition...
So you're craving something more than lying on a beach drinking goon cocktails? Volunteer work is a way of giving something back to the country you've grown to love and enriching your travels while you're at it.
Earthwatch has created a 'Recovery of the Reef' programme, which asks for volunteer divers to work with scientists to assess coral disease on the Great Barrier Reef.
Working across a variety of coral dive sites, volunteers will conduct underwater surveys, tagging and photographing diseased areas, which will then be monitored over time to assess the condition of the coral. Sara Davis from Earthwatch is organising a team of 12 people to head to Orpheus Island, located 120km north of Townsville on the Great Barrier Reef.
So where do you fit into this scientific journey? "You'll help scientists conduct underwater surveys of the coral to help us answer the question of why coral disease is spreading and the factors influencing its spread. Volunteers provide many hands to conduct this important research," explains Sara. All you need is an Open Water dive certificate and the willingness to learn. "No training necessary. The scientists will take the volunteers through this," she adds.
You're not only contributing to science, you're gaining a once in a lifetime opportunity. As Sara says, "You'll be learning about the issues and the potential solutions and seeing nature through the eyes of a scientist - often a fascinating and enriching experience."
Not to mention hanging out on the World Heritage-listed reef, in a part known for its secluded, sheltered bays, spectacular fringing reefs and stunning scenery.
To sign up to the first programme (March 12), visit http://www.earthwatch.org[earthwatch.org]. Participation costs $2,700 and includes accommodation, food and transfers to the island.