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This is Survivor—Rustic style! Undergo mental and physical challenges after you’re marooned on a remote island. Carrying only essential rations to survive the week, you will learn survival skills from an Australian Army survival instructor and a former participant of National Geographic’s series Naked and Afraid. In between the hard work, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy this island paradise as you snorkel above the coral reef, collect marine life data, and help with environmental projects while enjoying the beautiful sunset over turquoise waters.

With our No-Stress Travel Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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2018 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
July 17 August 1 Available

Program Profile

Community Service Component
Community Service Focus
Get to Know
Trek and Camp

Connecting Programs

Schedule two or more programs in a row to create your ideal Rustic Pathways experience.

This program connects especially well with:

  • Day 1

    Australia Here We Come!

    If you are traveling 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.

  • Day 2

    In Transit

    Today is lost as you cross the international dateline, but don’t worry too much… you will get it back on your way home!

  • Day 3

    Welcome to Australia

    Welcome to Australia! Rustic Pathways Australian staff will greet you at the airport in Brisbane. After a warm welcome, you’ll take a connecting flight to Gladstone, the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Settle into your hotel, get to know your group, and learn more about what to expect over the next 8 days.

  • Day 4

    Final Preparations then Island Bound!

    This morning will be spent preparing for your time on the island. Your instructors will teach you some essential skills and you’ll go through some physical and psychological profiling. We will be dividing you into 4 teams for your time on the island, and this morning you’ll start to bond with your team. You’ll be given a ration pack of equipment and food to help you survive on the island. At lunchtime, we’ll begin loading the barge then head out to sea in the early afternoon.

    This is the real deal. We will be travelling by a cargo barge to take you to Rustic Island – a deserted island, 45 miles off the coast in the outer great barrier reef. The barge trip will take 6 hours and we’ll arrive at Rustic Island in the early evening. As the mainland disappears beyond the horizon with the sunset, the sense of isolation will set in and the excitement will build. When the barge pulls up in the dark, we’ll unload our gear onto the beach, wave farewell to the barge, set up a basic camp for tonight, then get some sleep while we await for daylight!

  • Day 5

    Orientation to Rustic Island

    When you wake this morning, the daylight will reveal the island is a coral cay fringed by coral reef and turquoise lagoons. The pure white sands of the island encircle vegetated forest whose only inhabitants are thousands of birds that roost in the trees. The island is an important habitat for birds and nesting turtles (seasonal), and the tropical waters are abundant in marine life. Walking around the island takes approximately 2 hours.

    Today you’ll have an orientation to the island and go through some important ground rules. The island is national park, so we need to minimise our impact while living out here. Each small team will establish it’s own base camp around the island. There’ll also be a central base for our staff. Using the equipment that you have brought, you will create a base camp for yourself and set up your home for the week.

    This afternoon, the Survivor-style competitions will begin. Over the next 7 days, you’ll compete against the other teams in a series of challenges to win equipment, rations and special privileges. Let the fun begin!

  • Day 6 - 11

    Island Survival and Service

    These six days and six nights are unscripted. You will compete in teams for a series of survival challenges that are carefully designed and overseen by our instructors. Our survival specialist will work with your team to teach you the essentials of survival. You will be required to create shelters, cook your own food, snorkel and spearfish, fish with hand lines, and collect and distill water. You can trade and barter supplies and food with the other teams.

    During the days, time will also be allocated to marine and environmental service work. We will contribute to ongoing marine monitoring projects by collecting data on marine life for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Collect and remove rubbish from the beaches and lagoons, to help preserve this ecologically important environment.

    Each evening, watch the sun slip down behind the ocean, and as night sets in, the starry night sky will be absolutely phenomenal and you’ll fall asleep with the sounds of the ocean lapping on the coral reef lagoon.

  • Day 12

    Return to Mainland

    Today our island adventure will come to and end. The barge will come to collect us in the morning and we’ll depart our island home. Stepping back onto the shores of mainland Australia will have never felt so exciting. This evening you’ll stay in a comfortable hotel with hot showers and real beds to rest and recuperate.


  • Day 13


    This morning we’ll fly to Sydney, and your next few days will be spent exploring Australia’s most famous city. Head out to see the sights of spectacular Sydney Harbour, walk through the famous Rocks District, admire the bridge, and ponder the Opera House. Then cruise through the harbor to the seaside suburb of Manly and experience Darling Harbour and Chinatown.
There will also be an add-on opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge! One of only three bridge climbs in the world, this adventure is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and will show you Sydney from a unique perspective.


  • Day 14

    Our Big Kitchen and Bondi Beach

    Today you’ll test your cooking skills preparing meals for the homeless people of Sydney. You’ll visit Our Big Kitchen, where you will learn about lesser-known social issues of the city and how you can make a difference through cooking meals for the homeless and refugees.

    In the late afternoon, head over to famous Bondi Beach, hang out with some Aussie surf lifeguards, and finish the trip by checking out a few fun and trendy neighborhoods in this stunning city. Sydney is continually voted one of the world’s top 10 most livable cities and you’ll soon discover what makes it so special.


  • Day 15

    Sydney Harbour

    Today you will walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge to visit Australia’s oldest amusement park, – Sydney Luna Park – where you can opt to add-on a classic ride or simply enjoy the exciting atmosphere.
    Head back to the city and get your last minute souvenir shopping done before one last special dinner with your group.

  • Day 16

    Returning Home or Transition Day

    This morning we’ll take an early flight from Sydney to Brisbane. It will be a day 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!


An Important Note About Schedule Changes

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 australia@rusticpathways.com

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.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.


A small backpack is ideal to carry-on.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet and money (USD or AUD)
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Chargers
  • Travel power adaptor
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
  • Arrival instructions for Brisbane


One medium-size duffle bag or wheeled bag is ideal for this program.

When you go out to Rustic Island, you will need to leave some belongings and clothes on the mainland. Please bring a packing cell / strong plastic bag / laundry bag that you can leave on the mainland with any items that you can’t take to the island.

When you head out to Rustic Island, you will be restricted to bringing:

  1. The mandatory items listed below
  2. Five optional personal items
  3. Survival kits and ration packs provided by Rustic Pathways in Australia

Mandatory Packing List: Personal Items for the Rustic Island Survival Experience

You need to bring the following items with you to Australia for your time on the island.

  • Sleeping bag (rated to 5C/40F)
  • Water shoes / dive booties with hard sole for walking in the lagoons
  • 3mm full-length wetsuit for snorkeling/swimming
  • Underwear (10)
  • Long pants (2)
  • Warm sweater/jacket (1)
  • Bathers/swimsuit (2)
  • Shorts (2)
  • T-shirts (2)
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirt (1)
  • Flip-flops (1)
  • Hat (1)
  • Sunglasses (1)
  • Prescription medications (if required)
  • Contact lenses and solution (if required)
  • Feminine hygiene products (if required)

Optional Personal Items to Bring to Rustic Island

In addition to the required items listed above, students can only bring five (5) additional items of their choice to the island. Students need to bring these with them to Australia, there will not be enough time to buy them once you arrive. Some suggestions to consider include:

  • Waterbottle
  • Camera
  • Flashlight / headlamp
  • Notebook and pen
  • Books to read
  • Deck of cards
  • Pocket knife / Leatherman (maximum blade length 4 inches)
  • Pajamas
  • Travel pillow
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Toiletries (see below)
  • Deodorant (no aerosols)
  • Wet wipes
  • Fishing line and hooks

Personal Items for Before and After Rustic Island

Please also bring the following items for your time in Australia before and after the island experience. These items will stay on the mainland while you’re on the island.

  • Socks (5)
  • Additional underwear (5)
  • Jeans (2)
  • Long shorts (1)
  • Shorts (1)
  • T-shirts (4)
  • Sweater/fleece (1)
  • Warm jacket (1)
  • Lightweight rain jacket (1)
  • Sneakers/running shoes (1)
  • Toiletries (travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Body wash
    • Face wash
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug spray
  • Deodorant (no aerosols)
  • Wet wipes
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Travel pillow
  • Pajamas

Items Provided By Rustic Pathways in Australia

  • Linens and towels at accommodations before/after the island
  • Survival kits and ration packs for the island
  • Other activity-specific equipment
  1. a

    Welcome to Australia! You will arrive in Brisbane, meet your group, then jump on another flight to Gladstone.

  2. b

    The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, 550kms north of Brisbane.

  3. c

    Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and one of the most popular cities in the world.