Cross the International Date Line and arrive in the Land Down Under. Our journey to Australia is a TFT favorite, combining adventure with cultural exploration and major travel destinations with little-known gems. Best of all, you will discover the best of Australia’s wildlife during our service program in the Yungaburra!
You will explore the rainforests of Australia while working with local organizations dedicated to protecting the country’s unique and diverse wildlife. Projects include working at a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned tree-kangaroos, visiting an endangered ecosystem to help preserve the trees that gliding possums call home, and helping with the revegetation of local parks. Over the years, our service work has had a direct and positive impact on the community, even being featured in the local news.
The adventure doesn’t stop there — when traveling with TFT, you can be sure that you will cuddle with koalas, pet kangaroos, spend time adventuring in the outback, explore Sydney, discover the Great Barrier Reef, and of course, immerse yourself in the Australian culture and relaxed lifestyle!
During this program, you will…
- Earn up to 20 hours of community service working with Australia’s unique wildlife and flora
- Spot platypus and wallabies, hold a koala bear, and pet a kangaroo!
- Scuba dive* or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
- Hike through the rainforest and learn about this important ecosystem
- Visit the iconic Sydney Opera House and explore the neighborhoods of Surry Hills, Manly and Bondi
- Suit up and climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge for incredible harbor views*
- Go sand-boarding down massive sand dunes
- Swim in pristine waterfalls and lakes and slide down natural rock formations into natural rock pools
*This is an optional excursion
After an exciting adventure in Australia, most participants choose to continue the fun on our New Zealand Adventure program.
DAY 1: DEPART FROM LOS ANGELES (LAX)
DAY 2: CROSS THE INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE
DAYS 3-6: CAIRNS > KURANDA RAINFOREST
Our first stop in Australia will take us to the “Far North Queensland”. After landing in Cairns, we will spend a full day in Kuranda, learning how to throw a boomerang, practice playing the didgeridoo, and we’ll enjoy a traditional Aussie BBQ lunch. You’ll also have the chance to cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, and immerse yourself in a greenhouse full of butterflies! Then we’re off to spend a full day cruising the turquoise waters on the incredible Great Barrier Reef where we’ll have the the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive* with sea turtles exquisite sea life. In-between the adventure activities, we’ll take the time to explore the bustling city of Cairns, including visiting the famous night markets where you can pick up a souvenir or two!
DAYS 7-10: ATHERTON TABLELANDS > YUNGABURRA
Next up is our service adventure where we’ll head inland to the Yungaburra. During the next few days we will work on a variety of local projects all related to the care and rehabilitation of native wildlife and flora. Get to know this part of rural Australia with incredible natural landscapes and stunning wildlife. See agile Wallabies living happily in suburbia before climbing the Great Escarpment onto the Atherton Tablelands where you will visit a huge strangler fig and look for the smallest and most primitive of the kangaroo species.
Some service hours will be spent working at the TREAT nursery, a cooperative approach to revegetation involving government and community resources. At the display center, you will be able to see all of the work of the last 35 years made by this remarkable community group and how you will help contribute to this work! Take a break from your service work for relaxing walks to beautiful waterfalls in a secluded part of the park.
DAYS 11-12: BRISBANE > MORETON ISLAND
Hop on a quick flight and land in Brisbane. After exploring downtown, we’ll catch a high-speed ferry to the third-largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island. Choose how to spend your days — maybe feed wild dolphins, sand-board down giant dunes, snorkel through shipwrecks just off the shore, or spend some time relaxing on the gorgeous beaches of the island.
DAYS 13-16: SYDNEY
We round out our time in Australia in Sydney, where you will explore the urban and cosmopolitan excitement of the capital city, with its splendid harbor and world-class metropolis. Visit the Botanical Gardens, discover the history of the famed Sydney Opera House, check out a movie on the world’s largest IMAX screen, stroll down Bondi and Manly Beach, enjoy the city’s fantastic shopping in Surry Hills, and explore Sydney’s world-famous fusion food scene.
DAY 17: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Cairns we stay in the center of town a few blocks away from the Esplanade. In the Yungaburra we stay in a cozy lodge nestled in the Atherton tablelands that feels just like a home away from home. On Moreton Island near Brisbane we stay in resort-style accommodation. Finally in Sydney we stay in the heart of bustling Surry Hills, centrally located within walking distance of all the major attractions.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Students love that they are able to explore a diverse amount of Australia. The varied locations and activities throughout the program give the teens a wonderful overview of this amazing part of the world. In particular, the teens relish the opportunity to make a direct, visible difference to the local community they are giving back to. During this incredibly enriching experience they form strong connections and lifetime memories helping rehabilitate indigenous Australian wildlife.
What is unique about this program?
Swimming with sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, performing community service helping Australia’s indigenous wildlife and gazing over Sydney from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to name just a few! This program is chock full of unique experiences with something for everyone.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches during the service portion, and dinners.
Not included in the cost (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, lunches, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
Australia is a very multicultural country with an incredible array of cuisines from around the world. Each with large migrant populations the food is as authentic and delicious as you would find in the original country. Greek, Italian, Thai, Indian, Chinese, the choice is yours! For the adventurous eaters there is also kangaroo, crocodile and emu to try.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need to bring anything special for the community service portion of the program?
Due to the nature of our service work outdoors with habitat restoration and local wildlife, all you’ll need are clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and a water bottle to stay hydrated. A more detailed packing list will be provided upon registration.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for the trip?
All US citizens will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority visa for a fee of $20 USD prior to traveling to Australia.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017
"I went on the Costa Rica Adrenaline trip this past summer and it was amazing! I have never gone on a trip by myself before and I was very nervous. But after meeting with everyone at the airport, I knew that I made the right choice booking the trip! The staff were so helpful and very resourceful throughout the trip, and everyone in my group were super nice and welcoming! I really enjoyed the adventures we did, such as: tubing, ziplining, snorkeling, and canyoning! But one of the best memories I had was being able to surf for the very first time!! It was so surreal and an incredible feeling! I was said to say goodbye on our last night, but I still stay in contact with some of the friends I made to this day! I would totally recommend this trip to anyone who loves adventure!!"
"I had been wanting to go to Japan for years prior and getting the chance to go and be fully immersed was amazing! We got to walk through a national forest and see a beautiful waterfall that I wouldn't have even thought to do. We also went to the Studio Ghibli Museum and got to experience city life but also get out of the crowds and go to towns farther out. I got pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I wouldn't have allowed myself to do if I decided to go to Japan by myself on my own terms. I would go back on this trip in a heartbeat. It was so much fun and I got to meet such amazing people. Truly is something that you should do if given the chance."
"What an amazing experience! This trip was truly 3-weeks that changed my life and perspective forever. Spending this time in Costa Rica will be the best choice you will ever make, I know it’s the best choice that I made. Expect to join a group of teens that are also interested in exploring the world and helping out animals. I still stay in touch with these friends 2 years later, and even have made trips across the country to New York City to visit my Costa Rica pals! The best part of the whole trip to me was the animals and working at the rescue center. Learn the proper care for these exotic animals and work with other volunteers from all over the world who share the same interests as you. Some of the amazing experiences I had were babysitting the baby sloths, taking a baby anteater into the forest, or feeding the young monkeys. Outside of working at the rescue center I tried so many things that were out of my comfort zone, a night hike in the jungle, salsa dancing in front of a whole restaurant, and ziplining through the jungle. I recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in immersing themselves into a new culture, and not afraid to get dirty and work hard to help this animal sanctuary."