WHO'S LEADING THE MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA? A Resource List of Groups Connecting People (Especially Children) to Nature

About the Author

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of nine books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle." His newest book, "Vitamin N," offers 500 ways to build a nature-rich life. In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal.

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Australia’s history and cultures have always been infused with the symbols and experiences of nature, but even in that great country, concern is growing about the disconnect between children — which means people — and the natural world. So is the amount of good Australian research on the issue as well as the number of organizations taking action.

This will be my third trip to the continent, and I’ve written about the movement there to connect children to nature. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is bringing me to several cities there, Feb. 22 to Feb. 26. Other organizations I’ll be cheering on include, OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle), the child obesity prevention program of South Australia.

Here’s a list of some (not all) of the great groups in Australia. This list was assembled and generously shared by Antje Dun, ACF librarian. I’ve edited the list and added a few organizations.

Please let me know if you’re not on this list belong on it, and please register your organization’s contact information on the Children & Nature Network’s Movement Directory. I’m hoping to meet folks from many of these organizations during my upcoming visit to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane.


The Australian Conservation Foundation

ACF stands for ecological sustainability, bringing people together to champion the true value of our environment and its critical role in sustaining all other systems and in achieving human wellbeing.

3000 Acres
3000 Acres aims to unlock underutilised land across the city to grow food and build strong communities.

Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network
A national gathering nestled in Hobart with some of Australia’s greatest food garden innovators coming together to teach connect, share, inspire and mobilize.

Conservation Volunteers, Naturewise Conservation Holidays
Connect with nature and explore the great outdoors.

Earthwatch – Volunteer Vacations
Earthwatch combines volunteer opportunities for individuals from all walks of life  This was a great opportunity to really get to know Australia’s flora, fauna.

One Wave
One Wave is a non-profit surf community that is raising awareness for being in a funk, anything from depression, anxiety and bipolar. We have found that the best way to beat a funk, is getting in the ocean and enjoying the waves and saltwater goodness.

Out Doors Inc.
Out Doors Inc. (Out Doors) is a non-profit statewide community managed mental health organisation that uses the outdoor environment as the means of delivering a range of adventure, recreation and respite programs to people living with a mental illness.

202020 Vision
The 202020 Vision is a national campaign to increase urban green space in Australia by 20% by 2020.

National Tree Day – Planet Ark
Planet Arkand Toyota is calling on all Australians to Get Outside and Grow, and help make nature a part of our everyday lives where we live, learn, work and play.



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Stephanie Alexander Kitchen GardenFoundation
A not-for-profit organisation assisting Australian schools to implement and deliver theStephanie Alexander Kitchen GardenProgram.

Kids Teaching Kids
Kids teaching kids is an education program, delivered through schools which encourages kids to work together to identify and offer solutions.

One Tree Per Child
The aim of ‘One Tree Per Child’ is to have every child under ten plant at least one tree as part of an official school activity.

Greening Australia – Greening Australia and your school
Have you considered a revegetation project in your school? 

Junior Landcare
Junior Landcare is about encouraging young people to play an active role in ensuring the safe future of their environment.

My Green Wall
School vertical gardening program

Nature Play Playgrounds, Nature Play WA
Western Australia’s statewide effort nurtures nature play spaces.

School Holiday programs
Ecotreasures, Sydney
Coastal Connections, Summer Holidays Activities Program, South Australia
Junior Rangers Summer Holiday Program, Victoria,
Nearer to Nature Summer Holiday Program, Western Australia



NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Find great places to visit, memorable experiences and beautiful nature stays in national parks across NSW.

Wilderquest, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
During the school holidays NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service run a great WilderQuest Discovery program of events for kids.

COSS Family Nature Club— Gosford City Council
A Family Nature Club is a group of adults and children who enjoy nature together on a regular basis.



Fun in the Bush Parks and Wildlife Commission NT
Need Ideas for having Fun in the Bush? Want to learn more? The following ideas and information give young people the chance for discovery.

Junior Rangers – Parks and Wildlife Commission NT
The Junior Ranger Program provides an opportunity for Northern Territory children to discover their natural and cultural environment.

Walking with Spirits
The Walking with Spirits festivals held each year at the end of July or early August at Malkgulumbu, a waterfall and sacred site on the land of the Jawoyn people.



Connect with Nature – Department of National Parks, Recreation …
Information about the Connect with Nature activities, events and school programs which replace the Go Bush program.

The Natureweavers Place 
A forest school program that has been operating on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland since 2010.



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OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle)
OPAL is the most significant child obesity prevention program ever conducted in South Australia. Its 2014 theme is “Life Looks Brighter on the Outside.”

NRM Education in Adelaide
Works on a range of initiatives including the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative SA (AuSSI-SA), nature play and reconnecting people with the natural world — through its Engaging with Nature program and a range of Youth Voice initiatives.

SA Urban Forests Million Trees Program
Read about SAUrban Forests Million TreesProject endeavors, learn about local plants and animals.

Trails SA
This website is a gateway to more than 400 trail experiences across the wonderful state of South Australia.



Parks Victoria – Healthy Parks Healthy People
Our parks are everywhere – from the most remote locations to right in the heart of the city.

Victorian Child &Nature Connection
The Victorian Child and Nature Connection aims to reconnect Victorian children to nature.

Mud Monsters Gardening Group
Mud Monsters gardening group offers a beginner gardening booklet and workshops for children.

Kids in Nature
A website and book about getting out and about in nature around Melbourne with young kids.

Bendigo Family Nature Club: The unofficial guide to Bendigo
Start your own nature club such as this one in Bendigo.

Ranger Roo, Victorian National Parks
As Parks Victoria’s mascot, Ranger Roo inspires toddlers and young children to enjoy and appreciate nature and the outdoors.

Junior Rangers
Parks Victoria’s Junior Rangersare born to explore. If you have an interest in nature, animals and the outdoors then Junior Rangers is for you.

Active in Parks Program, Geelong
Active in Parks supports targeted groups to undertake activities in parks and open spaces to achieve social, physical and mental health outcomes.



Nature Play WA
List of useful websites from Nature Play WA of organisations, where to go…

The West Australian Family Bushwalking Club
The West Australian Family Bushwalking Club Inc. provides opportunities for family activities that encourage appreciation and enjoyment of the bush.

Goolarabooloo – LurujarriHeritage Trail
You will spend 9 days with the Goolarbooloo people of Broome W.A. walking the Lurujarri dreaming trail.

The Walkatjurra Walkabout
The Walkatjurra Walkabout is an annual one month pilgrimage across Wangkatja country in Western Australia.

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Learn about the Children & Nature Network Worldwide

A Shared Vision, by Cheryl Charles

Join the Worldwide Movement

New International Attention to a Forgotten Human Right

Children & Nature Network’s Movement Directory

The Movement Down Under

Questions from Australia: Students in Sydney Ask About Nature-Deficit Disorder


  1. I hope that a list is being compiled for United States. I can think of three excellent places just outside New York City: Blue Rock School in Nyack, NY, Strawtown studio and Nature Place Day camp

    • Richard Louv

      Thanks very much to all who have responded with suggestions for additional groups to add to the Australian list. Please do add these and other appropriate organizations to the Children & Nature Network’s Movement Directory, which is a worldwide list. We hope also that groups in the U.S. will also add their names and contact information to the Movement Directory, which can be found here:

  2. Hi there,

    Muddy Boots and Sandy Hands is a Geelong (Victoria) based family nature club which has been operating since June 2012. We organise monthly activities and camping trips and we are active on facebook. Please look us up and add us to your list!

    Danielle Bain
    Coordinator of Muddy Boots and Sandy Hands

  3. Hi – I’m running a nature-based 3-4 year old program at the Yanchep National Park in Perth – Little Gumnuts. We have access to a hall at the Gloucester Lodge where we sing, dance and listen to a story, the bulk of the time is spent outdoors under the trees, playing, learning , connecting with nature and having fun. Today was them first day of the program and we made ‘mud’ cake with leaves, twigs and sand, we played a game in cardboard boxes, we played with hula hoops and a ball, we climbed up rocks and trees. I heard a little chap say a few times ‘I can do it!’ We played wiith water, sand, paint and did some puzzles on a verandah outdoors. My ‘classroom’ is huge, I have trees, hills, a mini bridge, a huge grassy patch, a sandpit, the possibilities for play and learning are endless.

  4. ‘Natured Kids’ aged 0-5 yrs and their families play in nature each week. We recreate together outdoors in multiple locations, while learning about our natural environment. Operating since 2007, there is also opportunity for involvement in ‘nature play training’. See for details. Natured Kids is also on Facebook. Go to:
    Thanks Richard. looking forward to having you on australian turf again!
    Narelle Debenham
    Coordinator of Natured Kids Australia.

  5. Bellingen EYE (Environmental Youth Experience)is a group of about 40 high school aged young people who are working to reconnect youth to nature. (Bellingen is on the NSW Mid North Coast – about half way between Sydney and Brisbane, Richard, if you would like to visit!!) EYE was co-founded by 12 young people and 2 adults in 2008, and since then we have had hundreds of teenagers attend our weekend bush camps and bushwalks, as well as being active in environmental activism. In the next few months we will be helping run EYE camps in Melbourne and Byron Bay….so the EYE message is spreading! Please check out our website And we would REALLY love to host you if you can fit it into your busy schedule Richard!

  6. Annette’s Place Child Care Centre Inc in Young NSW is a community based multipurpose children’s centre that runs a nature based play program called ‘Bush Place’. They use a natural bush space that the children attend for free play in the bush, and the outdoor environments in the service are exceptional and full of natural elements, and are used for teaching and learning just as much as the indoor environments. The Director is named Kathryn, and her email is
    Another group who work in the area of professional development for early childhood services in Australia is called Inspired EC, and they have a strong focus on development of programs incorporating nature and natural play. The link to their site:
    I hope you enjoy your visit to Australia Richard!
    Regards, Stephanie Hunter

  7. Hi
    Where would we find the list for Australia? There are many other groups and organisations in Australia working with children in nature, very exciting. I myself have been called the Guru of Nature education by Educators and organisations working with children in Australia and an application has been submitted to a university here to do a research project on the huge expansion of nature based play and learning in Australia over the past 2 years with myself and my company, Inspired EC, seen as central to this renewed interest and expansion. Great work collating a list!

  8. Scouts Australia, along with the Scouting movement worldwide have always promoted the education of youth with respect to their natural environment as a core part of Scouting life.
    I, myself, am the Warden of Mt Keira Scout Camp where outdoor education is our primary purpose.

  9. The Western Australian Naturalists’ Club has been running a children’s group since the 70s and is still going strong. One of our goals is to build kid’s confidence about being in the bush, and for me, learning about the plants and animals to be found there is an important part of this.

  10. Tania Moloney

    Thanks for sharing Richard.
    A great list, and it’s growing every day.
    I’ve been fortunate to have met so many wonderful and inspiring people playing in this space over the past year, yourself and Narelle Debenham from Natured Kids included who I’m thrilled to have as part of my Nurture in Nature interview series.
    I’m always looking for inspiring individuals and organisations to chat to … I’ve spoken people all over the world, but looking forward to having more Aussies to chat to in the upcoming series.
    If anyone would like to check out Series 1, you can do so here and drop me a line if you’d like to be part of Series 2 (or 3)

  11. Tania Moloney

    Griffin Longley from Nature Play WA is part of the series 1 also, and Ange Barry from Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is in series 2. Both of these brilliant organisations you listed here from ACF’s list!

  12. The RIG (Remote Indigenous Gardens) network is another to add to they list. RIG runs the Edugrow School Garden initiative, to “support and encourage students, teachers and schools to create school food gardens and learning activities for students who enjoy fun outdoor learning and engaging activities that can be readily integrated with the curriculum”
    There are some very exciting things happening out doors in remote NT.
    Another is the LoC (Learning on Country) program that is run in conjuction with two local ranger groups, in an effort to engage children at school through connecting with the land – another unique and very worthwhile venture!

  13. 20 years of commitment in reconnecting children with nature through experiential learning programs for students of Parklea Public School…..advocating loud and proud

  14. Great idea to blog the list as when I’ve mentioned it to people they’ve not realised it’s there.

    Our group, The Birdsland Ecology & Garden Gang Inc. (AKA The BeeGees) is based in the Dandenong Ranges and is on the list under Australian Clubs, but we also have a Facebook page:

    We try to keep up with Twitter too using @The_Bee_Gees but there’s only so many hours in the day 🙂

    We run community and school activities in the beautiful Birdsland Reserve, though at the moment we’re in planning stages for the much loved Minibeasts Festival. We also do kinder and primary incursions when time permits and are working with a local kinder to bring in more nature and food production, as well as custom designing an ecological awareness course for them.

    One of our favourite things to do at the moment is teaching children about soil and why it is so important to our lives. Seeing a group of 3 & 4 year olds conduct soil testing, grasp soil properties and the effects of the elements on bare soil is so inspiring.

    If a 3 year old can understand this, then adults have no excuses for burying their head in the sand (or silt, or clay…) 😉

  15. Check out our Docs in the Park Program in Frederick Maryland USA


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