Welcome to Australia! You will arrive in Brisbane, meet your group, then jump on a flight to Darwin.
This is how it all began for Rustic, 34 years ago. In 2017 we’re getting back to our roots and invite YOU to go rustic on this two-week service adventure! Travel in 4x4s, drive through rivers, discover gorges, swim in hot springs, bask under waterfalls, and see jumping crocodiles! Camp under the stars like you’ve never seen before. Get to know Aboriginal kids through cultural exchange. Help rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife. Hang out amongst kangaroos, wallabies, birds, cows and horses on a working cattle ranch. Learn from local Aboriginals how to throw a boomerang, play the didgeridoo and throw spears. This is Rustic Pathways Australia. Since 1983.
If you are travelling from North America, today you’ll depart Los Angeles for Brisbane in the evening on our escorted group flight. The flight will take about 14 hours – plenty of time to get to know the rest of your group before arriving Down Under.
Today is lost as you cross the international dateline, but don’t worry too much, you will get it back on your way home!
Arrive in Brisbane, where Rustic Pathways’ Australian staff will welcome you to your program. From here, transfer to the domestic terminal where you connect onto a flight to Darwin. Upon your arrival in Darwin, there will be time to settle in to the hotel, freshen up, and start your orientation. Late this afternoon, head out to the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets to experience an amazing sunset over the ocean, watch local acts including a professional whip cracking performance, enjoy aussie cuisine, and pick up some authentic souvenirs.
After a relaxed morning of exploring Darwin, your guides will provide an education session on Australia to help build your knowledge and give you some context to the program you are about to undertake. After lunch you will get your first taste of the outback of Australia on a unique boat cruise on the Adelaide River. This boat cruise has true blue Aussie locals who feed salt-water crocodiles from the boat. You will witness these wild ancient creatures jumping out of the water in a feeding show like no other. You can’t get this close to crocodile in the wild (safely) anywhere else in the world.
From here, you will be drive down the road for 20 minutes where you will learn all about the Aboriginal culture from a local family. This experience gives you an opportunity to engage with aboriginal people, the environment and wildlife, learn basket weaving, spear throwing, how to play a didgeridoo and learn about the local busk food and medicine. You will be served damper (bush bread) at the end of the experience. After this introduction into true blue Australia, you will head to turquoise thermal springs for a relaxing afternoon dip followed by an authentic Aussie BBQ back at your accommodation. You will reflect and share your highlights of your first day in the Outback with your new found friends.
This morning you will head to the airport to embark on an airplane flight which will take you to your next destination, Kununurra, across the Western Australian border. This is only a one hour flight as the distance is 433kms by air but it would be 829kms by car due to the rough terrain and massive river systems along the way. You will be flying over million acre cattle stations and small towns that barely exist on the map. As you get close to Kununurra make sure have a look out of the plane to witness the majestic red rocky mountains and massive rivers. After landing in Kununurra you will pick up your 4WD’s and set up your Aussie swags for the very first time with help from your experienced guides. You are now in the heart of the West Kimberley, the true Outback of Australia. This afternoon you will get in your 4WD’s and explore the region’s beautiful scenery, before stopping to capture sunset views over the valley.
Today we head further into the outback to The Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park. This is well known as one of the most striking geological landmarks in Australia. With ranges formed from beehive-like mounds with orange and black stripes that will make you question if you have landed on another planet! You will explore these ancients landforms, creeks and cathedrals. Star gazing in this world heritage national park is truly epic with no town or city lights close by. You will cook over the campfire every night and toast marshmallows whilst we share stories and count shooting stars.
Kununurra’s population has a high percentage of Aboriginal Australians. The town is quite diverse and many young children here do not have stable support from their families. Without positive role models, children here can quickly find themselves on a destructive path, and sadly, Kununurra has the highest rate of youth suicide in Australia.
Rustic Pathways has partnered with several local organizations to provide support to children in Kununurra. Today you’ll meet leaders within the community and learn about the issues children face and what’s being done to support them. The next two days you will help run some after-school activities for the local kids.
During your time at the local youth hub you will also cook and prepare much needed meals for women and children in crisis. After delivering these meals to the crisis accommodation centre to families and children in need of a nutritious meal, your efforts in the kitchen will be rewarded by watching the sunset in style over the charismatic township of Kununurra.
Today you will be helping out a local lady Mandy who has dedicated her life to saving, rescuing and rehabilitation sick and injured wildlife. Mandy looks after more than 50 kangaroos and wallabies, emus, and lots of different bird species and any other local wildlife that might need caring for at the time we arrive. You will help Mandy feed the animals, including the adorable baby kangaroos called Joeys. Once feeding time is finished you will set to work on projects that help to keep the animals safe and comfortable until they are ready to release back into the wild.
Continuing onto majestic Lake Argyle where you will go on a sunset boat cruise like no other. Keep your eyes peeled as you should see red tailed black cockatoos; wedge tailed eagles, whistling kites, yellow crested white cockatoos, kangaroos, wallabies, cows and maybe even a dingo or 2 along the way! Lake Argyle is the biggest manmade lake in the southern hemisphere. It is classified as an inland sea and at its peak in the green season Lake Argyle holds a staggering 32 million cubic metres of water. You will do a wildlife cruise of the lake’s shoreline and islands will to give you close encounters with an incredible variety of native fauna, from fresh water crocodiles, fish and wallabies (looks like a small kangaroo) to more than 240 species of birds – almost one third of Australia’s total known species. You also get to go for a swim and freshen up with the sunset glows all around you!
Today you will start the day the right way, by the infinity pool at Lake Argyle overlooking red rock cliffs and the blue water creating a view like no other. Head back towards Kununurra and camp at El Questro station for 2 nights. El Questro wilderness park is a one million acre cattle station filled with ancient gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. This is the number one destination for outback explorers in Australia. You will drive across rivers and creeks in your 4×4’s. You will climb, crawl and walk through billion-year-old gorges to get to some of the largest swimming holes in the outback, with fresh spring water running all year round. You will be treated to another hot spring surrounded by tropical palms with crystal clear water. Here you will be camping on a river where you can swim at any time of the day. At sunset you will be driven up rocky hills to see the sunset over the mountains. Opt for some extra adventure by signing up for an add-on helicopter flight over the waterfalls or saddle up and enjoy the scenery from horseback (add-on).
Today we say goodbye to Kununurra by selecting , sanding and polishing your own unique zebra rock pendant whilst enjoying delicious smoothies made from local produce. Wave your final goodbyes to the sun-kissed country and fly back to Darwin for some good tucker (slang for food) by the wharf under moonlight with your fellow explorers.win.
Today your final morning in Darwin will be spent soaking up the tropical heat on a discovery walk through the city and surrounds, lead by your guides. This will give you an opportunity to see some of the gems this town has to offer while picking up a few last souvenirs. This afternoon, fly back to Brisbane and settle into your accommodation. You’ll suddenly feel a world apart from the Australia you’ve gotten to know over the last two weeks, and tonight you’ll debrief your experiences while enjoying a final dinner as a group in the heart of bustling Brisbane.
Today will be full of fond farewells as you say goodbye to new friends and prepare for your next adventure. If you are continuing on to another Rustic Pathways adventure in Australia, today is a transition day between programs. You will spend the day on Australia’s famous Gold Coast with other students and leaders transitioning between programs.
If you are returning home to the USA or traveling on to Fiji or New Zealand, your flight will depart Brisbane this morning. If you are traveling on to another Rustic Pathways destination, your staff will help you with your flight arrangements. Wherever you are headed, we wish you happy travels and hope you return to the Land Down Under soon!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
During this program, you’ll take 4 internal flights in Australia. These will be from Brisbane to Darwin, Darwin to Kununurra, Kununurra to Darwin, and Darwin back to Brisbane.
Food in Australia is quite similar to American cuisine. Some meals will be cooked in kitchens at the campgrounds, some meals will be cooked over the fire, and some meals will be out at local restaurants or cafes. Vegetarians and other dietary restrictions can easily be accommodated. Australia also has many unique foods, and students will have the opportunity to try these as well!
At the start and end of the trip, you will be staying in hostels and you’ll share a room with 3-4 other Rustic students. The hostels are set up for young travellers with a great fun atmosphere. For about ten days of this trip, you’ll be camping under the stars in the Outback. There’ll be a choice of tents, swags (Australian camp beds), and hammocks. All are very comfortable and we’ll make sure you love it! Some nights we’ll be at camping grounds with hot showers and a swimming pool, while other nights we will be camping by rivers and waterfalls.
The northern part of Australia has perfect weather at this time of year. Nearly every day will have clear, sunny skies and the days will be warm to hot (80 – 95 degrees). The nights are warm with clear, starry skies – Australia has the best star gazing in the world!
Participants on Rustic trips are generally 60% female and 40% male.
This program connects in Brisbane to the Seven Wonders of Australia trip and our programs on the Sunshine Coast (Golden Sands and Helping Hands, Awesome Aussie Service Adventure, and You, A ‘Roo, & Australia Zoo). You can also easily connect to programs in Fiji and New Zealand, with direct flights from Brisbane. Students connecting to programs in Asia must do their Australia program first, and typically fly from Brisbane to Sydney for their connecting flights to Asia.
Yes, US citizens are required to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority to travel to Australia. Electronic Travel Authority is the Australian name for a tourist visa. Students are responsible for arranging their own ETA. ETAs can be obtained through a simple online application at http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ Residents of other countries may need to take additional steps and can find more information at http://www.immi.gov.au/
All Rustic Pathways students are required to have an up-to-date tetanus shot. We suggest Hepatitis A and B and Typhoid vaccinations and recommend that you consult a doctor regarding immunizations for travel to the region. You can find additional information on immunizations for travel from the US Center for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov
Add-on activities, snacks and souvenirs are not included in the program cost.
Add-on activities include a Helicopter Flight over El Questro Wilderness Park, Lake Argyle or Kununurra (approx. $125 – $325), Floatplane flight over Kununurra and Ord River (approx $150 – $300) and Horseback riding at El Questro (approx $80 – $100).
Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have staff that is certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Students should pack reasonably for this program. Laundry facilities will be available once during the middle of the program, for a cost of approximately $10 a load.
Students will have limited access to internet during their program when they visit towns with internet cafes. They will be able to purchase international phone cards at local convenience stores, which can be used to call home from the public phones.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Below is your packing list, and for those of you looking for some extra guidance on what to bring, check out the packing guide for this program.
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A small backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
One medium-size duffle bag or wheeled bag is ideal for this program.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Items Provided By Rustic Pathways in Australia
Welcome to Australia! You will arrive in Brisbane, meet your group, then jump on a flight to Darwin.
Darwin is a beautiful tropical city and the capital city of the Northern Territory.
This is where the outback meets the tropics, Katherine is known for its gorges, waterfalls, and thermal springs.
Kununurra is an outback town in far northern Western Australia.
Home Valley is located close to Pentecost River at the foot of the Cockburn Ranges.
Wyndham is where you’ll end your rugged 4×4 adventure across the Outback.