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Earthwatch at 50: Margaret Willis' story

In 2002 when staying with relatives, Margaret heard on the radio that an elderly person had been awarded an incredible expedition. Having always been keen to travel but prevented by family commitments, Margaret was eager to apply for the opportunity too, before quickly discovering the deadline was that very evening! Her hurried application paid off and in 2002 Margaret too was awarded an Earthwatch Millennium Fellowship.

She travelled to Australia’s Kangaroo Island for nearly three weeks to study native Echidnas and Goannas. After an initial orientation, the volunteers were put into pairs but due to there being an odd number in the group, Margaret was put on her own leading to an experience she will never live down.

“I was the one who, the day after our arrival, got lost in the bush for eight hours without food, water, hat or suncream. All I had was a battered, faded sort of map that I held upside down. I eventually found the coastline and got rescued by a yacht!”


After living deep in the bush, Margaret remembers returning via Sydney and wanting to scream at all the waste and pollution in the city after their spartan, but mind-changing experience. The expedition group are still in regular contact almost 20 years later.


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