Ecology field trip: Kioloa

This information is correct for the Semester 1, 2023 trip.
school Course code
Course codes
schedule Publication date
contact_support Contact
Contact name
Adrienne Nicotra

Content navigation


The Ecology course (BIOL2131/6004) has a three day field trip to the university's research station in Kioloa, on the NSW south coast. The trip gives students the opportunity to translate ecological theory into practice, with activities including sampling vegetation and invertebrate fauna in different environments, the measurements include estimating tree size, soil properties, and assessing the communities of invertebrate animals.  There is the opportunity for some sampling at night, but most of the activities take place on the foreshore/dunes and forest environments (but not on the rocks or in the wave zone). The field trip is a key element of the course as it provides students with hands-on experience in field methodology and generates the data they will use in subsequent practical classes. The trip is designed to build ecological experience, scientific expertise, teamwork, responsibility and leadership.

Interested in participating? Read on.

Participating in trips can be a highlight of your university experience; however, it is also important to think carefully about whether it is the right decision for you at this point in time. This page is to help you understand what the trip involves, so that you can make an informed decision. The information is accurate to the best of our ability; however, please be aware that trip plans can change at the last minute. If this may cause issues for you or you need additional information, please talk to the course convenor.

How we can help you participate

For most of our trips, there are lots of options for flexibility that may make it easier for you to take part. This page will tell you about some of them.  Keep in mind, it is not possible for us to anticipate every individual circumstance, so please contact the course convenor if you have other ideas for how we could help you participate. If you would like support discussing your needs with the course convenor or if your discussion didn't go as you expected, please contact the school accessibility contact.

How to participate?

Any student who meets the pre-requisites can enrol in one of the relevant courses and participate in the trip.

If you can't participate

This trip is a strongly recommended course activity. If you cannot participate you will be given alternative assessment options.


Activity sites: foreshore and forests

The activities will be mostly outdoors, on the foreshore/dunes and in forest environments (but not on the seashore rocks or in the beach wave zone). There are some lectures and indoor work, including using the field laboratory. There is also the opportunity to conduct some sampling for invertebrates after dark. Weather conditions are typical for SE Australia - they can vary from very warm, hot and dry to stormy, windy and rainy. Toilets are within 10-15 mins walk from field sites; you need to check with course leaders to leave the group so they know of your temporary absence and its likely duration. 

A moderate level of mobility is required since students will need to walk from the research station to the foreshore (approximately 1 km) and to the forest (about 1 km). Students will need to travel over uneven forest paths, sand and on rocky beach outcrops. If you cannot safely traverse these distances, please talk to the convenor at the beginning of semester and we will investigate whether alternatives are possible.

Students who have difficulty with mobility in the field should discuss this with the course convener prior to the trip, even if they can cover the distance described above. The convener will take the students' needs into account if the trip plans change (e.g. due to weather) and in emergency situations. Students with sensory impairments that impact their ability to identify hazards or follow emergency instructions must discuss this with the course convenor at the beginning of semester so we can investigate possible ways for you to safely participate.

Accommodation: dormitory rooms

Accommodation will be in dormitories with bunk beds. Talk to the convener if you are worried about room-sharing or have particular requests (e.g. sharing with particular people or with those of the same gender).  There are shared toilets and showers associated with the buildings. The accommodation does not have air conditioning and only basic heating. 

The accommodation at Kioloa has some accessibility features, such as ramps to the accommodation, but lacks others, such as paved paths between buildings. If you need accessible accommodation, please discuss your specific needs with the course convenor at the beginning of semester. We will investigate whether they can be accommodated at the Kioloa campus.

Travel: bus and 4WD vehicles 

Students will travel to Kioloa by bus. Once there, they will be transported by 4WD vehicles or will walk (< 1 km) to the field sites.  If students need accessible transport, they should speak to the convener at the beginning of semester so that the options can be investigated.

Food: cooking as a group 

All food is provided. Dietary requirements can be accommodated. We can cater for gluten-free, dairy-free and standard allergies. Students will have the opportunity to list their dietary requirements prior to the trip. Those with more complicated dietary requirements should speak to the convener so that arrangements can be made.

Food and drink is not permitted in the laboratories for safety reasons. Students who need to eat during this time for medical reasons should discuss their needs with the convener. 

Cost: TBC

The cost covers accommodation and food and is in addition to the tuition fees. See Programs and Courses for current fees. 

Health & wellbeing

Look after yourself: 2 nights away from home

For some students, two nights is a long time to be away from support networks and students are strongly encouraged to think about how they will manage their physical and mental health while on the trip. Kioloa is located near a small coastal community, which places a number of constraints on how we can support you to manage your health. Students will be asked to fill out a pre-excursion form and it is very important that you report any existing or potential health issues. This information will assist our first aid officers to support you if you require it. If you need assistance storing equipment or medication, you will need to discuss this before the trip. We can also arrange emergency transport if you need to access medical facilities, however this cannot easily be arranged for routine issues. Also please be aware that the university's insurance policy does not cover pre-existing conditions.

During the course we will be working in laboratories containing hazardous materials and with animal material and in the field collecting invertebrates.  Students will be given a schedule of activities before the trip and need to talk to the convenor before the trip if any may cause a risk to their physical or mental health. We will look for ways for you to safely participate, and if this isn't possible, can develop alternatives. Students should therefore only need to withdraw from an activity in emergency, or genuinely unforeseeable, situations.

You will be living and working in close quarters with other students throughout the trip. For safety reasons, there are limited opportunities for you to spend time on your own and you must let the convenor know where you are at all times. Kioloa has limited mobile reception; there is adequate coverage on the Telstra network, but other providers won’t work. If you need a bit of time alone, access to a phone or to make calls in private, please talk to the course convener..

Look out for each other: respecting other students' needs

You will be working and living alongside a small group of people for a considerable length of time.   Students must act in a professional, respectful and responsible way at all times during the activity. Students are also requested and required to follow the safety procedures set out for the course, and at the Kioloa centre in general. 

Workload: long days with some evening and night activities

A typical day involves breakfast at approximately 7 am with activities starting at approximately 8am. Most activities finish around 5pm. There will also be some evening work and perhaps an opportunity for sampling after dark on one night, and there may be lectures at night on both the Friday and Saturday.  Students who have difficulties with physical or mental endurance related to these timings should speak to the convener at the beginning of semester so we can investigate the options available.

Clothes: options for all weather

The following items are strongly recommended:

  • Sensible clothing and foot ware for all types of weather
  • jumper/windbreaker/umbrella or raincoat 
  • mosquito and insect repellent (there are plenty of ticks and leeches around)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat (a MUST!)
  • water bottle
  • flash light/head lamps (it can be very dark…).

Please note that a recommended equipment/clothes list is provided with the schedule for the field trip.

Tasks & activities


Measurements may be taken of: tree size, abundance, air/weather properties like windspeed, soil properties, organic matter depth and soil moisture, invertebrate abundance and identity. All measurements can be made from the ground, on foot. They involve working with others to build a sampling protocol and use some basic equipment, which is either mechanical or runs on batteries (eg flashlights). 

Field presentations and discussions

There will be some introductory lecture material at the start of and during the course; also discussions and group planning along the way and to wrap up the field trip.

Students will be listening to content delivered by staff whilst in the field (outside). While collecting field data, students will have to listen, discuss and coordinate with each other as small group.

If you think that you may have difficulty doing this, please discuss this with the course convener at the beginning of semester.

Informal presentations to peers

Students will have the opportunity to informally present their work to other students and to staff if they wish to, but this is not core to the field trip.

Using flora and fauna guides, other texts

Students are expected to use guides for flora and fauna, as provided, and as needed for completion of activities. They may also wish to consult any other texts brought along for their benefit.

Handwritten field notes

Students may be required to take handwritten field notes and/or record data while working in the field. If you think that you may be unable to do this, please talk to the course convenor about alternatives (e.g. using an electronic device, recording verbal observations to write up later).

Use provided laptops

Students will be expected to put datasets into laptops provided by the school or their own devices. They will also have the opportunity to learn to use some equipment such as instruments to measure weather conditions, soil moisture, light intensity, other.

Completing tasks in groups

The student class will be split up into groups of up to 10 and helped to obtain measurements needed for the field trip.

They will be guided in their work in the field by the teaching team.

Handling invertebrates

Students taking this course may catch and handle invertebrates. Please talk to the convenor at the start of semester if you think this might be an issue for you.