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Cape Tribulation
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 8.5
Persons: up to 4
Category: Other
Host ID: 8963
Region: Queensland

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Last Updated: August 22, 2018

We are an independent, not-for-profit research, conservation and education organisation based at Cape Tribulation. We run the Cape Tribulation Tropical Research Station and the Bat House. We are in the heart of the World Heritage listed Daintree lowlands in far-north Queensland, 170km north of Cairns.


The Research Station is situated on a 8.5 ha block which we have reforested over the past 28 years! It was a grass paddock in 1970s, now it has been mostly been returned to rainforest!

Myall Beach is across the road, Cape Tribulation beach up the road, fresh water creeks close by and rainforest all around!! If you like bush walks, looking at wildlife, swimming, snorkeling, kyaking, reading, chats over dinner .... you will enjoy your time here!

We are primarily involved in rainforest and beach rehabilitation and reforestation, and weed control. We also do research on a wide variety of topics - from flying foxes and their relatives, to botanical and zoological projects to appropriate technology for the wet tropics!! Depends a lot on who is here..

We also run an information and interpretation centre called "The Bat House" which is our main source of operating revenue (which will hopefully will re-open in some months).


We can take up to 4 volunteers at a time, all ages, families, couples, solo travelers, groups of friends are welcome!

We prefer volunteers to stay 10 days to 2 weeks - as this place is rather different - and it takes several days to "get the hang of it".

Great meals, book and DVD library you can use and comfortable cabins to stay in. Lots to see and do (beaches and rainforest in local area!)

However...for some this may be a bit out of your 'comfort zone' .. especially if you are from Europe or USA .. you cannot be a 'clean freak' in the Wet Tropics .. the environment has other ideas! However, it is one of the SAFEST tropical rainforest environment in the world.. don't believe the tour operators! ("Come to Australia, you might accidentally get killed" (google that one!)).

Also - we would appreciate some "generosity of spirit" - as for volunteers from the urban world, this place works on a different psyche, which may be a bit unusual. A cross between Fiji and New York.

I (Hugh) am a botanist, electrical engineer and biologist so I'm happy to teach you lots and learn lots from you too while you are here! You can also learn more about living with solar power, caring for animals (bats, chickens...), gardening, composting toilets, growing food, resilience......

Talia is our resident geek - who loves the bats, and is doing the essential web work


We have a number of opportunities depending your interests (you can be involved in them all if you like! - or you have the skills!)


WE NEED GARDENERS! - our permaculture efforts are really suffering because of 6 months of grey weather - and having to spend most of our time doing catch-up weed control on the local beaches and roadsides. Lots of nice accumulated compost to be applied!

1) maintenance projects (fixing things at the station - some experience usually required), and some building work.

2) environmental projects (helping to re-forest the local area, no experience needed!, collecting plants for re-planting.

3) art and education (creating displays for the Bat House - experience needed!)

All volunteers can help with gardening work, feeding animals, general cleaning (nothing too dirty!), helping cook meals.....


- only technical maintenance and display work opportunities need experience, all the other opportunities are NO experience required. We'll teach you what you need.



1) URGENT - electronics maintenance for repairing research equipment (oscilloscope, solar regulators).

2) Someone mechanically skilled to refurbish our solar trackers.

3) Computer work
software maintenance (MAC and PC).Tabulating dat


All sorts of things..


1) Reforestation work
Native seed and seedling collecting, potting, tree planting, weed control work.

2) Vegie garden
Weeding, planting fruit trees, mulching, planting seeds, we are starting a self-sufficiency garden project as well... building an extension to our composting system..

Creating education displays for the "Bat House" interpretation centre,
(really need experienced/skilled people here)

helping create the Arboretum (helps if you have a botany background)

Rainforest/environmental interpretation ... running the Bat House ( must be vaccinated against rabies - it's the law - For REAL long-termers - we will pay for vaccination ($450!!) - and we can teach you everything you need to know.. but we need long-termers (3+months) for that.

Contact us by email (best) or phone (takes a long while for the answering machine to wake up!

The station is accessible from Cairns for $50 each way (standby rate) through the kind assistance of a tour bus company, which we can organise,( and we can meet you from the bus. Phone or email us for details. I am often in Cairns too so I can often pick people up and bring them to the Station.


We ask for a $A30 a day donation towards food and acommodation - 3 meals per day (and snacks), (we are a not-for-profit - and your contributions help run the place). We tend to eat largely vegetarian - but not strict! Sadly we can't accommodate vegans or people with severe dietary restrictions.

However - people with specific (demonstrable) skills - gardening, internet, technical, mechanical etc) we can arrange free stay..

Remember though - there will possibly be other people here on student, intern or other volunteer arrangements, who will be paying FAR more than you (and are, in fact, subsidising your stay here) - so PLEASE don't get caught up in a discussion about who pays what!!!!

We have comfortable shared cabins where you can sleep and relax. Most times you will have a cabin to yourself to sleep in. Meals and living area are shared, so you can relax in the living area or have 'quiet time' in your cabin on time off!

You can hang-out with the animals too - chickens, a very lazy cat, and of course our bats (or flying foxes) (very cute!).

The beach, good walking tracks, the backpackers and shop are across the road. Fresh water (ALL water on the Station is totally safe) creeks are down the road. We also have snorkel gear, stinger suits, kayaks, and bikes for you to use.

We have a very well stocked library. We have internet (but it is limited and s l o w) and computers, and a stock of videos (with a LED projector...very cool!). There is NO mobile phone coverage (sigh!)

Some volunteers in the past have done their own work in our well equipped 'workshop', like carving, metal work, jewellery... making all sorts of things from timber, metal and shells, seeds.... found on the beach!

We look forward to you coming to stay with us!

One of the bats having dinner (we had some of the water melon too of-course!)

Cape Tribulation at sunset (picture taken from Emmagen beach 7 km north of Cape Tribulation)

Two volunteers doing re-forestation 'weed work' in a former cow paddock (the 'weeds' are a central American grass that was planted by previous owners as food for cattle and horses!) The trees around are ones we planted from 5 years ago to last year (the paddock was cleared of forest in 1970s). Pulling weeds from around the trees we planted is critical for the trees to be able grow and therefore the forest to recover. If we leave the weeds the trees are literally 'suffocated'. So every few months we pull weeds from around the trees we have planted. After a year or so they a big enough to shade out the weeds and the forest can grow again! Further re-forestation happens then by birds dropping seeds and the trees also seeding. We keep an eye on the weeds for a few more years so these new seedlings can also grow. Ten years later the cow paddock begins to look like a forest again!

One of the more rustic wooden cabins - which you can stay in (it was an old pioneer cabin from the 1970s which was going to be burned by the new owners - so we rescued it, brought it to the station and re-built it here! Truly recycling!)

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