Living the island dream, volunteering for free accommodation, Keppel Islands, Australia

After coming to Australia with not much savings, we worked for 3 months on farms at the Sunshine Coast – beautiful time, but we dreamed of a real holiday! But the big money was still not on our bank accounts..

How to?

So how to have a beautiful time in Australia (I am sure you can do this in a lot of other countries, too!), without spending much money? We started searching:

  • Check gumtree.com.au for volunteer, work exchange, live in positions and apply!
  • Check workaway.info or helpx.net for volunteer positions
  • Check facebook groups for backpackers in Australia, people look for volunteers there sometimes

That’s how we found a volunteer position on a dream island more in the north of Queensland – one of Keppel Islands, Pumkin Island. 6 weeks minimum stay, we agreed on two months, wrote a few emails with the owners and booked our train tickets to Rockhampton.

Volunteering to live for free on an island? Yes, we worked 20 hours a week for free accommodation in a beautiful open wooden bungalow. If we worked more, this paid for our food shopping. The work was mainly cleaning and housekeeping, but also gardening, maintenance, renovation and building jobs. There was still enough time to enjoy the day!

Living on a dream island

Yes, this was definitely the most beautiful place we ever lived at. Sleeping just a few metres from the water, seeing the milkyway and all the stars in the dark nights, watching and hearing the whales and dolphins, birds and fishes, taking boats and snorkeling gear for free to explore the ocean and other islands. There was no wifi, we slept early and woke up with the sun, dipping in the ocean or took a shower with beach view. Our kitchen was outside, sometimes the wind was too strong to cook. Our door was just a moskito net, always breathing the fresh ocean breeze. Surrounding the island is possible in 20 minutes so we took many walk to explore every side… Australian winter is North Queensland is actually quite beautiful and warm and the ideal time if you want to see the whales.

Hardships

But it was also super interesting to learn the difficulties of this life: You need a boat or even a ferry to get you, any item and the guests to the island. The ocean seperates you from all the supermarkets, building marterials, events… On this island they need rain water and solar power to keep everything running, so the weather and the seasons are deeply connected to your life. Otherwise, how to get power and fresh water to an island? If it is raining or stormy, it is difficult to do anything and there is no other place to go. What if you have to take a boat on a stormy day? What to do with rubbish? How to prevent that the salty water and air destroys everything? Everything rosts quickly, rooms start moulding, the sun destroys the wood… Life on a island requires a lot of planning, work and transport!

Away from everything

What I loved most about it: Taking a break from everything – no streets and cars, no noise and artifical light – just enjoying the solitude and the deep connection to nature. After a few weeks the body gets tuned to the cycle of day and night and the light of sun and moon. Living so close to the ocean, completely depending on it, learning and accepting the force of the elements and natural decay and renewal.

We stayed for two months and loved every moment of it, but it also felt good to come back to “normal” society afterwards, because you start to miss all the usual amenities of daily life! I recommend such a trip for everyone, even the guests that stayed just for a few days described their island trip as a very special experience! Thanks to the beautiful owners how invited us and shared their little Island with us.

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