Volunteer to stay in SA’s national parks

Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed – be a campground host in one of SA’s national parks.

If you’re an avid camper, you might have come across a campground host on your last stay at one of South Australia's national parks.

They’re the people who greet you as your enter the park, generously volunteering their time to make your stay a comfortable one.

Whether it’s being on-hand to answer questions about the park, reminding you that it’s a total fire ban day, or looking after the upkeep of facilities like barbeques or toilets – campground hosts help look after the place and make you feel at home while you’re far away from yours.

Sound appealing? Here’s all you need to know about being a campground host.

What are you in for?

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at a national park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter or Christmas break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time – up to a few months – to support park rangers.

They’re not responsible for making sure visitors comply with the rules of the park – that’s the ranger’s job. But their job is to provide information to visitors that will help them enjoy their stay, and make it a safe one.

Campground hosts operate from selected parks across the state, including Coffin Bay, Mount Remarkable and Gawler Ranges national parks, and Innaminka Regional Reserve.

Some parks have another type of volunteer – caretaker hosts. These hosts have a bit more responsibility around general maintenance, and are involved in things like flora and fauna surveys. Caretaker hosts stay in a park for between one and six months.

Who does it suit?

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy helper, then hosting could be right up your alley.

Campground or caretaker hosts need to bring their own caravan, camper trailer or tent, and stay in the park for an agreed amount of time.

They get fully trained, which includes first aid and four-wheel drive training, and have a host supervisor just a phone call away.

Who already does it?

In SA’s national parks, hosts generally range from young travellers in their early 30s to retirees in their mid-70s. There’s now an 18-year-old taking part – the youngest ever campground host in SA.

At the moment there’s a retired couple hosting in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park for a month. They’ve already completed one-month stints in Lincoln and Coffin Bay national parks, and after the Flinders they’ll be heading to the Gawler Ranges National Park and then onto Katarapko in Murray River National Park. Now that’s a good way to see the state!   

What’s in it for you?

As a campground or caretaker host you get the best of both worlds. You get to wake up every morning to the stunning landscapes of our parks, and do a good deed by volunteering. Win win.

Your park entry and camping fees are taken care of, and for each year of active ‘hosting’ you receive free access to camp for up to five nights at a time in designated camping areas in more than 50 of our popular parks.

Hosts also get to tag along with rangers and explore the more unusual and remote areas of the park. And all while ticking another wondrous park off your wish-list.

Interested? Learn more about the opportunities on offer as a campground host and how you can get involved.

It’s International Volunteers Day today – the perfect time for us to say a huge thank you to people just like our campground hosts who give their time to look after the environment and our special places in South Australia. Find out about other environmental volunteering opportunities you can take part in too.

(Main image courtesy of John and Susan O’Rourke)

This story was originally posted in May 2016.


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