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 Para Wirra and Onkaparinga River.

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.

Who already does it?

In SA’s national parks, hosts generally range from young travellers with families to retirees in their mid-70s. There’s two 18-year-olds taking part – the youngest ever campground hosts in SA.

Last year, a couple hosted in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park for a month. They also completed one-month stints in Lincoln and Coffin Bay national parks, and after they visited the Flinders Ranges, headed 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.

National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week this week, May 21 to May 27, the perfect time for us to say a huge thank you to everyone who gives their time to look after the environment and our special places in South Australia.

If you’re feeling inspired to lend a hand too, and would like a more detailed listing, check the Department for Environment and Water website. You’ll find great opportunities to volunteer in Adelaide, as well as in our natural resources regions across the state.

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

This story was originally posted in May 2016.

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