Save the whales

Add Whale Conservation volunteer to your English language program.

The most beautiful classroom

  • An experience of a lifetime participating in world-class research and monitoring the ocean and marine life.
  • Get up close to whales and dolphins in their natural environment with the stunning Gold Coast skyline glistening in the background.
  • Learn about species and individuals (including identification, biology, behaviours and the ability to photograph the animals).
  • For each English plus Whale Conservation application, BROWNS will donate 100% of the monthly fee directly to Humpbacks and High-rises, supporting whale protection and research.

Duration: 8-24 weeks volunteer program (minimum 5 weeks study at BROWNS)

Whale Conservation Volunteer Dates: Anytime between 1st June - 31st October*
*Excluding public holidays and school closure periods (click here)

Entry Requirements:

Volunteer Orientation:

Before commencing the Whale Conservation Volunteer program, students must complete an orientation. Students should aim to commence their English studies at least one week before orientation.

Orientation location: Griffith University, Edmund Rice Dr, Southport, Queensland 4215 (G51 smartwater facility)

2024 Volunteer Orientation Dates*:

  • Tuesday, 14th May 2024
  • Monday, 24th June 2024
  • More dates coming soon
*Orientation dates should be used as a guide only. May be subject to change. Students must organise their own transport to the orientation and boat departure locations.

Volunteer Description:

  • Limited volunteer opportunities are available.
  • Time in the field will be spent on commercial whale-watching boats learning about species and individuals (including identification, biology, behaviours and the ability to photograph the animals).
  • An opportunity to interact with the public to answer questions and provide educational materials and information.
  • Work on a wide range of tasks including data collection, data entry & analyses, community engagement, ocean education, design, software development and fluke matching.
  • Rostered on for at least four trips per month (boats depart from Main Beach and Surfers Paradise).
  • No experience or qualifications required.
  • Volunteer roster will be provided after the first training session.

English Courses:

2024 Whale Conservation Volunteer Fees:

$80 per month (inc GST)

  • Includes training course, a Humpbacks and High-Rises (HRR) T-shirt and one-year HHR membership
  • Research contribution (supporting whale protection and research)

100% of the Whale Conservation Volunteer Monthly Fees will be donated to Humpbacks and High-Rises (HRR).


Volunteer Placement & Roster:

      Placements and volunteer roster provided by Humpback and High-rises.

Humpbacks & High-Rises is an independent not for profit research organisation dedicated to the research and protection of whales and dolphins in south-east Quensland. We focus our research and protection strategies on coastal impacts caused by urbanization for the benefits of marine mammals and the urban communities.

Our mission is to ensure present and future generations of the community have access to enjoy, appreciate and care for Humpback whales and other charismatic marine mammals.

We aim to provide adaptation strategies for whales in urbanised waters and bring the community closer to the whales and sustain whale watching at the Gold Coast for future generations. We do this by improving the understanding about Humpback whales and dolphins through the collection of data on physical water properties, investigate their abundance, distribution, behaviour and movement patterns and to establish community involvement in the Gold Coast “bay” area and beyond.

We collect, analyse and publish information on marine mammals for the public with the support of our community members. Our results show that the Gold Coast bay functions as an important resting spot for mothers with calves and is becoming a calving ground as well. We studied the behaviour of over 2000 individuals over multiple seasons and discovered very similar resting behaviour shown for Hervey Bay. Our findings have implications for the management of Gold Coast coastal waters and also demonstrate that it is very important to share the waters with our gentle giants so they can safely rest.


These timetables should be used as a guide only and may be subject to change at any time. Our English programs could be on any one of our schedules: Click here to see all Sample Schedules.

Volunteer roster will be provided after orientation.

Each survey trip on the boat is around 3 hours. Upon arrival to the boat departure point, the volunteers will collect their tickets for the boat, collect the survey gear from the office and then start preparing the gear while heading out to sea. Once the first pod of whales have been sighted the survey commences and continues until the vessel returns to port. Futher details of the surveys will be advised at the seminar.

Enrolment Process

Enrolment Process:

      • Check entry requirements for the volunteer program. If you are unsure about your English proficiency, you can take our free BROWNS Online Placement Test (BOPT).
      • Select a BROWNS course and check the entry requirements.
      • Decide dates for your English course and volunteer program. We recommend commencing your English program at least one week before starting your volunteer program. You will need to complete the orientation before you can begin the volunteer program.
      • Example: Commence BROWNS on Monday 6th May 2024 and attend the Volunteer Orientation on Wednesday 15th May 2024. The volunteer program is available until 31st October therefore if you commence in May you can volunteer up to 5 months, June will be up to 4 months, July up to 3 months and August up to 2 months.
      • Complete the Application Form/s and send to apply@browns.edu.au
        BROWNS Application Form
        Volunteer Application Form
      • Receive your Letter of Offer and Student Handbook
      • Sign and return Acceptance of Offer
      • Student visa holders will receive a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)
      • Apply for your visa
      • BROWNS will notify Humpbacks and High-rises of your application, and 100% of the monthly volunteer fee will be donated
      • Prepare for Australia

When you arrive:

      • Commence BROWNS (start date on Letter of Offer) and receive English timetable.
      • Our Student Services Team will book you in for your first volunteer orientation session.
      • Attend the orientation session at Griffith University (students will need to find their own transport to Griffith University). The volunteer orientation must be completed before you can start your volunteer program, therefore, if you miss the scheduled session, you will need to wait for the next session which may be up to one month later.
      • After completion of the volunteer orientation session, the BROWNS Student Services Team will work with you on choosing your preferred dates and times for the volunteer program. Dates and times are not guaranteed however, Humpback and High-rises will do their best to schedule your preferred dates.
      • Rosters will be posted on the HHR Research Team Facebook page at the start of each month, make sure to check it!
      • If known to get seasick you might like to seek advice on preventative medication prior to going out to sea.
      • Commence the volunteer program. Students will need to find their own transport to the boat departure points. The boat departure points will be listed on your volunteer roster (Main Beach or Surfers Paradise). Ensure that you arrive to the boat at least 30 minutes early so you don’t miss that boat.
      • It is very cold on the boats for the first couple months, so make sure to rug up, but always wear a HHR shirt or research vest!
      • Posting about HHR is amazing and encouraged. Make sure to post the HHR logo on any photos you share on social media! (The logo can be found on their Facebook page).
      • The roster is generally posted a few days before the end of year month, for the following month.
      • If students are unable to attend one of their rostered volunteer days, please notify BROWNS Student Services team or Humpback and High-rises as soon as possible.
      • In the event of bad weather, students will be notified if the tour is cancelled/rescheduled.


BROWNS Campus Location:

  • 5 Hicks Street, Southport QLD 4215

Whale Departure points:

1. Main Beach (allow at least 2.5 hours per tour)
Departing: Sea World Whale Watching, 130 Seaworld Dr, Main Beach QLD 4217

  • 7:30 am
  • 10:00 am
  • 12:30 pm
  • 3:00 pm

2. Surfers Paradise (allow at least 3.5 hours per tour)
Departing: Whales in Paradise, 58 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217

  • 10:30 am
  • 2:30 pm

The roster will advise which location you will depart from each day. Departures times subject to change without notice.

Main Beach Transport Options:

  • Hopo Ferry + short walk
  • Bus + short walk

Visit translink.com.au to plan your journey.

Alternatively, a bicycle would take approximately 16 minutes from Southport.

Surfers Paradise Transport Options:

  • Tram + short walk
  • Bus + short walk

Visit translink.com.au to plan your journey.

Alternatively, a bicycle would take approximately 18 minutes from Southport.

What to bring:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Bottle of water
  • Humpbacks and High-rises shirt
  • Warm clothes (jumper or jacket)
  • Steady footwear
  • Seasickness remedy (if required)
  • Camera


      Coming soon