Volunteering

“G’day!” We have been hosting volunteers since 2006 with lots of mutual benefits to both parties (we were with Wwoof, but later joined HelpX and prefer it now: http://www.helpx.net). You get to experience a new lifestyle, learn new skills, see a remote part of Australia not many get to see and learn about our unique wildlife with Claire and plants with Marcus. We get to enjoy the company of new friends and get a helping hand with the endless work that comes with owning a large property. IMG_2515

For one week each month we take two volunteers to help us with all the jobs we need to get done. The 4hrs of daily work will mainly be weeding, gardening, concreting & building, walking track maintenanceย  & animal care. Please only apply if you are an out-doorsy type (ie you must ENJOY being outside!). ๐Ÿ™‚ We get LOTS of applications so we are usually pretty fussy about who we invite to stay with us. If we are already full for the month you wish to come, you may wish to visit as a farmstay guest instead. This entirely different experience will see you enjoying all the best bits of Sheoak Ridge without getting your hands dirty or raising a sweat! ๐Ÿ™‚ Our farmstays are incredibly popular and we guarantee you’ll have an amazing time with us (click on the link above for more details).

Sunset with volunteers Aurelie and Sam
Sunset with volunteers

Now, back to those who’d prefer to work hard for their food and board… Couples or two friends traveling together are preferred, but we will take solo travelers on the odd occasion. Non-smokers only. We only ask you to work a four hour day, but we typically work all day around the property, so you’ll need to be able to entertain yourself a bit, or like some of our very best volunteers over the years, you are more than welcome to continue to learn more about our lifestyle by working alongside us :-).

Another sunset from the ridge
Another sunset from the ridge

There are lots of things to do and see on the property if you like nature. We don’t leave the property often, so if you want to sight see around the area you’ll need your own car and you also need to check with us about work hours as these depend on what type of work you are doing with us. As we are typically working while we have volunteers each month, we won’t have as much available time to show you around, so you do need to be self sufficient and self-motivated if you want to do and see things. We have maps of the property showing all of the amazing walking trails and swimming holes to explore in your free time.

If you are a quiet person, Claire may introduce you to the wallabies in care, but volunteers need to understand they are not pets. Most of them have been through unimaginable trauma leading to them being in human care and are being rehabilitated for their eventual release back into the wild.

Skye and AJ having a cuddle with Indy, the agile wallaby
Skye and AJ having a cuddle with Indy, the agile wallaby. AJ was an amazingly enthusiastic Canadian volunteer who stayed with us for a total of seven weeks at Sheoak Ridge. Dr Skye is a regular teacher on the Stanford University Bing Overseas Study Program that does annual research on Sheoak Ridge. Indy is a beautiful agile wallaby who came into care when her mum was hit and killed by a car. She was released is now up to joey #3. Her first joey was named AJ, in honour of our wonderful volunteer. ๐Ÿ™‚

We are registered and licensed wildlife carers (it is illegal to have native wildlife in care without an appropriate permit) and currently have a number of young orphaned agile wallabies, swamp wallabies and pademelons (small, rainforest wallabies) in care, preparing for life back in the wild through a very carefully monitored soft release program. Claire does this work on a volunteer basis (ie no help from the Government) and it means long hours, late nights and very early mornings for her. It’s an intense hobby and a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning about conservation efforts in Australia.

Claire feeding a swamp wallaby and two pademelons (rainforest wallabies)
Claire feeding a swamp wallaby and two pademelons (rainforest wallabies)

ABOUT OUR PROPERTY:
Our property is 165 acres and adjoins two national parks (Mowbray & Kuranda NP’s). It is half tropical rainforest and half ‘typical’ Australian bush. There are several walking trails on the property that have been created with the help of volunteers. These go along ridges, across flats and through the rainforest. There is a creek that runs through the property and a dam near the house that we call our swimming pool. It’s the perfect place to cool off after a sweaty day of work. The property is remote, so it’s best suited for those who like to be off the beaten track. There are no shops or towns nearby.

Sarah and Sarah checking out some stick insects
Sarah and Sarah checking out some stick insects

WILDLIFE:
There is plenty of wildlife to see on the property if you make the effort to go out and look for it. Wallabies, kangaroos, reptiles, lots of birds, possums, even platypus in the creek behind the house. Naturally, because this is the real Australia there are also spiders, snakes, and other innocent creatures that irrational people are terrified of.
If you want to experience something a little different and see some of the nocturnal animals we can also take you for a night walk through the forest and rainforest. It can be a little scary if you’re not used to it, but it’s worth it, just for the experience. We haven’t lost anyone, yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sam and Aurelie at feeding time
Sam and Aurelie at feeding time – this was back in the day when we used plastic bottles and latex teats. Now we only use glass bottles and silicone teats which are far more hygienic. ๐Ÿ™‚

THE WORK:
HelpX is a two-way street and we are very fair when it comes to work, as long as you put in the effort. All we ask for is four hours of work from you each day, and that’s usually divided into two 2-hour periods:

Making a vegetable garden for our wonderful neighbours at Wetherby Station
Making a vegetable garden for our wonderful neighbours at Wetherby Station

Two hours in the morning before it gets too hot and two hours in the afternoon when it cools down. There are a variety of jobs we do here: weeding, animal care, track maintenance, revegetation planting, gardening, construction, and housework.

Finishing off the slate work to the outdoor loo
Finishing off the slate work to the outdoor loo

We’ll provide you with work gloves and safety gear, but you should bring your own long sleeve shirts (old, loose-fitting cotton business shirts are best – you can buy these cheaply ($2-5) at any second hand store), hat for sun protection, and long pants to protect your legs from bites and scratches (we strongly prefer you to use covered clothing rather than sprays as these are toxic to the wallabies in our care).

PROPERTY LOCATION:
This is a beautiful property located on the Northern Atherton Tablelands near the small township of Mount Molloy. It’s 45mins inland from Mossman and Port Douglas, about twp hours drive North West from Cairns and about 45 minutes north of Mareeba.

our swimming hole
At our swimming hole

GETTING HERE:
The easiest and cheapest way is to catch the daily TransNorth bus from Cairns to Mareeba (on the Atherton route). It’s a nice drive and not expensive as it’s only $19 per person. We will happily pick you up from the Mareeba bus stop by car and drive you back to the property. This is about a 45 minute drive depending on the weather.

Volunteers at the end of their stay with us
Volunteers Janis and Aaron from Germany at the end of their stay with us

ACCOMMODATION:
Volunteers are expected to sleep in the shed with the goat. Just kidding, You’ll be staying in one of the guest rooms in our home or in a luxuriously large tent up at the Cortex.ย  The property is off-grid and is fully solar powered so you need to be energy conscious. ie you can only charge things on sunny days and absolutely no hair dryers, straightening irons or other high energy things. We don’t have a microwave or electric kettle, so you’ll need to get used to cooking with gas. We also expect you to turn off lights in rooms etc.

Kayaking with Fee
Kayaking with Fee

MEALS:
We will provide you with three meals a day and access to snacks. We have a collection of tropical fruit trees including bananas, avocado, citrus, passionfruit, brazilian cherries, mulberries, ice-cream bean, and other exotic fruit so depending on what’s in season you’re welcome to help yourself. We also have a vegetable garden in which we grow a variety of normal and some very unusual vegetables that we use in our cooking whenever we can.

Volunteers James and Rachel digging up a delicious yam for lunch!
Volunteers James and Rachel digging up a delicious yam for lunch!

Breakfast is self serve and normally a choice of cereals, porridge or bread/toast with a variety of spreads and fresh eggs from our chooks (chickens), as well as tea/coffee. Lunch is sometimes self serve and sometimes cooked by us, but it’s usually dinner leftovers, sandwiches, pasta dishes, or garden salads.
We (mainly Marcus) cooks dinner and it’s usually amazing and very rarely average. So cross your fingers you miss out on the rare average day. If you have an adventurous pallet you’ll find yourself looking forward to dinner and the new ingredients you won’t find in supermarkets. Fussy eaters who don’t enjoy trying new foods are welcome to make themselves two-minute noodles or french fries. If you would like to show off your cooking skills, we’re always interested to taste someone elses creation. Unless you’ve done the cooking, we would appreciate it if you do the dishes as a “thank you for cooking”. We’ll do the dishes if you cook dinner.

Bruno and Chopper hard at work :-)
Bruno and Chopper hard at work ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know before you arrive so we can cater for you. If you need crisps or chocolate/candy we suggest you bring your own stash with you as we usually don’t have this in the house.
A beer or wine is usually on offer in the evening, but if you would like something else or more than that you’ll need to bring that with you as Marcus and Claire are not big drinkers and expect volunteers to respect this.

Building the most solid bunk beds in the world!
Building the most solid bunk beds in the world!

COMMUNICATION:
Internet use:
We have satellite internet which takes a lot of power from the solar (like running a microwave!), so we don’t leave the internet on all day. If it’s sunny we can turn it on once or twice a day, for a short time, but if it’s rainy we do limit our usage. Please don’t expect to be able to jump online whenever you like. There’s plenty of other wonderful things to do here to keep you occupied! ๐Ÿ™‚
Mobile Phones:
There is telstra mobile coverage up on top of the ridges on our property.

Arnie and I in my early days of caring
Arnie and I in my early days of caring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT YOUR HOSTS
We are both very passionate about the environment and educating people about nature. Claire is a professional entomologist/ ecologist and Marcus is a botanist/ geologist. Our bookshelf is full of nature books and field guides. We love hosting volunteers who are keen to go for walks and be immersed in nature. ๐Ÿ™‚ Join our facebook group to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Claire and Marcus hiking in Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill). One of our favourite NP's in Australia :-)
Claire and Marcus hiking in Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill). One of our favourite NP’s in Australia ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Are you suitable? – Do you like to work outside? Do you enjoy going for walks and seeing wildlife in the wild? Are you interested in sustainable lifestyles, building and conservation?
  • Work – 4hrs of work per day in exchange for food and accommodation at Sheoak Ridge.
  • Farmstay option – If we’re fully booked for volunteer placements for the month you want to visit and you really, really want to come to our property, you may prefer to book in on one of our personalised farmstays. We take 2-6 farmstay guests at one time and we promise you’ll have an amazing time with us! We’ll show you the best spots to swim, walk, see wild animals, roast marshmallows around a campfire, take photos etc. The money we raise from our farmstays goes back into the wildlife rescue program at Sheoak Ridge Nature Reserve. See our farmstay page for more information regarding a stay with us.
  • If you want to read reviews from previous helpers, go to the HelpX website (www.helpx.netย ย ย  Host ID 5396)
DSC_5030
Volunteers Nicole and Stu fixing up an eroded drain on the property.
Volunteer and keen horse rider, Nicole about to head off on a ride on a nearby farm.
Volunteer and keen horse rider, Nicole about to head off on a ride on a nearby farm.

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A private nature reserve in North Queensland

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