The land of dingos awaits!

Check out the Australia trip mini dictionary compiled by UA student Dani Saunders!

Vital Information

When: December 27th, 2009 to February 13th, 2010

Where: Australia - Arrive Brisbane, Depart Sydney.

Arrival/Departure City: San Francisco

Who: 11 teen unschoolers (ages: 15-19 flexible) and trip leaders Blake and Abbi.

How Much?: Currently priced at $4,499 all-inclusive (room, board, activities). Students must additionally purchase international airfare separately through our travel agent. We currently have reserved 10 seats on an Air New Zealand flight at the roundtrip rate of $1,497. Tickets must be purchased by October 9th! (This group discount fare requires 10 persons, including trip leaders.)

Application Status: Closed - The trip is full!

Priority Deadline: August 1, 2009.


Trip Goals

1. Unschooling Down Under

What is unschooling like on the other side of the world? Our primary activity will be exploring the eastern coast of Australia with the help of dozens of teen home/unschoolers and their families. We'll spend a few days in various Australian towns and cities, enjoying the best that each location has to offer and basking in the southern hemisphere's summer sun.


Our host families will be connected to us by Gayatri Janine, a long-time Not Back to School advisor and kitchen manager. Janine is an important figure in the Australian unschooling community, as she is the founder and director of Camp With Wings (the Not Back to School Camp of the South). Janine is mother to a large family of unschoolers. One of her children, Josie, will be getting married to unschooler Dave Thomas of Pennsylvania, an event that our trip students will get to cater as guest servers.

With our many trusted family contacts in Australia, our trip students will get to observe and participate full-steam in the unschooling life down under! They should expect to leave the trip with a ton of new pen-pals and Facebook friends. For teens who would like to create a giant new network of friends, this trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Camp with Wings

2. Creating an Australia Guidebook for independent teens

Have you ever read a Lonely Planet or Let's Go guidebook? Have you noticed how they're written for young adults ages 18+ or 21+?

The UA Australia trip is going to write it's OWN guidebook - for independent teenage travelers!

As we explore the vast eastern coast of Australia, trip students will participate in creating a travel guidebook for independent teen travlers. Our students will create articles, write reviews, and snap photographs.

At the end of the trip, we will compile and publish the guidebook, and other people will be able to purchase the guidebook online!

Brisbane, Australia

Sydney, Australia

3. Exploring the Natural Landscape

Australia is a treasure trove of outdoor beauty. We will visit the Great Barrier Reef (it may not be around for much longer!), take surfing lessons, explore the Australian rainforest, and a hike through a number of national parks.

None of these activities will demand an extraordinary level of physical fitness, but a love of nature will definitely be an asset for students on our trip!

4. Spontaneous Adventure

What do you get when you put 10 teen unschoolers, two highly-responsible-yet-goofy trip leaders, a rented van, and the Australian continent together? TONS of spontaneous adventure! Be prepared.

5. Volunteer Work

We will research and arrange short-term volunteer opportunities (matched to students' interests) upon arriving in Australia.


Trip Itinerary

Dec 27: Meet group in San Francisco and fly to Brisbane, Australia.

Dec 31 : Rent the Unschool Adventure Australia minivans and travel to Toowoomba (Gayatri Janine's house).

Jan 2: Unschooler wedding with Dave Thomas and Josie Banks-Watson of Not Back to School Camp! Students get to volunteer as waiters!

Jan 3-8: Learn surfing in Woolgoola and stay with former unschooling parents Peter & Deb. Day trip to the Dorrigo rainforest.

Jan 9-16: Stay on Jeanette's farm near Canondale National Park, where we'll explore more rainforest! Side trip to see the Great Barrier Reef.

Jan 17-24: Attend Camp With Wings (the Not Back to School Camp of the South!) and make tons of new friends.

Jan 25-30: Mystery flex-time!

Jan 29 - Feb 5 : Head south, driving through such rural inner Australian towns as Coonabarabran, Dubbo and Goondiwindi. Stay with teen unschooler Zoe's family in Canberra, explore the capital city, go camping, and find water holes!

Feb 6-12: Travel back up to Sydney and explore! See the Opera House. Stay in hostel or with unschooler families.

Feb 13: Depart Sydney for the U.S.A. Shed tears. Sell our guidebook!



Everyday Activities


Frequently Asked Questions (for parents)

Who's leading this expedition?

Abbi and Blake are your trusty leaders. They led a 6-week trip through Argentina in October/November 2008 with 9 unschool teens ages 15-19. The trip was a fantastic success, everyone had a great time, and all returned safely. Students and parents from the Argentina trip are available for references - please drop us a line and we'll make it happen.

Will we be able to keep in touch?

Yes, we will have an international cell phone on us at all times in case you need to contact your student urgently. Students will get copious opportunities to use the internet, e-mail, and call home via Skype.

What's your plan for health safety?

Australia has modern medical facilities, and we will always remain within a 2-hour drive to such facilities. Every student is required to have medical insurance that covers them in Australia.

Additionally, Blake is a certified Emergency Medical Technician and Wilderness First Responder with many years experience caring for teenagers in remote settings.

What is your policy on drugs, alcohol, and smoking?

We have a zero-tolerance policy on the use and possession of any illegal drugs (including non-prescribed medications), alcohol, and tobacco products. Violating this policy is grounds for immediate dismissal and return to the U.S. Students are made well aware of this policy through the pre-trip literature and phone interview.

My student has special dietary restrictions.

No worries! We will actively accomodate every diet. Blake is a vegetarian and Abbi is a wheat-free vegan. Everyone will be fed well.

What does my student need to bring?

We will provide a full packing list. In addition to the normal clothing and toiletries, the student will need to bring a sleeping bag.

How do I reserve a spot for my student?

After being offered enrollment, a $500 non-refundable deposit will be required to secure your spot. This deposit will be due by August 1, 2009 (or immediately if applying after August 1).

What's a dingo?

A wild or half-domesticated dog with a sandy-colored coat, found in Australia. It is believed to have been introduced by early Aboriginal immigrants.