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Starting my WWOOFing Experience in Australia
Friday 11th March 2011 – Somewhere in Noosa, Australia
As the next part of my journey was about to begin, I started to feel as though my Australian adventure was really in full swing. I was about to partake in some unpaid work in exchange for free food and accommodation, whilst spending time in the home of some locals, working in their property. Surely this would be the way to really get a taste of Australian life, although it was very different to how I imagined.
I checked out of my Noosa hostel – Flashpackers – and spent the day relaxing in and around the hostel until the afternoon when I was to be picked up by my host and taken to the guy’s property where my next adventure would begin. 4pm came and I was kindly given a free ride into town from the guys in the hostel. I love this hostel, and will definitely be back.
I waited a short while in town until my host arrived, and was a little taken aback to see the guy’s Ute, all decorated in a striking paint job. I imagined the guy to be quite wealthy, yet I was equally taken aback again once I met the guy in person. He had the appearance of a biker, or a pirate, and looked to have a prosthetic leg. The initial greeting was short and sweet, as my bag was dumped in the back of the Ute, then we both got in the car and we were off.
It was a fair drive to the property, and we stopped off at a pizza take away along the way. We spoke and got to know one another a little better. He is in fact a biker, and actually works in his own Harley Davidson shop. I didn’t ask about his leg but I can only hazard a guess as to how it happened. A motorbike-related injury I would presume. The guy is initially from Germany, and still had a strong accent, and upon talking further, he seems like a decent guy.
The guy wasn’t the type of guy I expected to meet on this experience, and I wondered if it would be quite the authentic experience I was looking for. Yet, I learnt more about Australia in that drive to his home than I have done so far on my Australian trip. Money is not great in OZ, much like anywhere else in the world. Property is far more expensive than it used to be, even surpassing UK prices by the sound of it. Much of the rise in prices has happened over the past few years, and sales in his shop have all but dried up, leaving him with a fast-approaching decision as to whether to carry on or not. I often fanaticised about the beauty of a life down under, and the easy lifestyle, cheap prices etc. I realise now how false this image is.
We eventually arrived at the guy’s property and I could see he was well off for money. His house was large and his land plentiful. He had cattle and chickens, as well as two dogs that ran to greet us as we pulled up. I am not the biggest fan of larger dogs, but these were relatively well behaved. We entered the property and I was a little surprised at the tidiness of the place, and how many nice things there were scattered about the place. I could live happily in a place like this, minus the cattle of course.
After we had eaten I was shown to a smaller cottage located down a short track from the house. This was to be my home for the next few days, and it looked cosy from the outside. I wondered if I might get a bit lonely down here on my own, but it is all part of the experience I am sure. As we stood outside looking at the cottage, with me getting a brief explanation of its purpose, we noticed a car driving up the road in the field below. Apparently this was the cottage’s new permanent tenant, after I had gone. The girl took one look at the building from the outside and agreed a price with the guy. I just looked on trying to take it all in.
A brief tour of the cottage revealed not a lot, as all the furniture had been expelled from the rooms inside, making way for the new tenant. Unluckily for me, just one week prior to my arrival, all furniture was still in its place, making it infinitely more homely. As it stood, the white walls and tin roof housed nothing but empty space and a feeling of cold that didn’t reflect the warm outside temperature. After inflating a double mattress for me to sleep on, it was placed in the centre of the main room, looking largely out of place. I put my things around the bed and made it my circle of comfort. My feeling of loneliness grew by the second.
I was given the evening to settle in and sort my things out before starting work tomorrow, and I began to feel more at ease. It is a completely new experience for me, but one I am glad I am having. I had to laugh to myself as I sat in the kitchen that evening watching all the flies dancing about the ceiling and the light, hoping they wouldn’t migrate into the main room. As I switched off the light and made my way into the main room and to my bed, I felt confident the insects had not followed, and I could sleep without fear. Once all the lights had gone out though, and the darkness set in, that’s when the fun began.
For most of the night I sat listening to the sound of animals outside, and the scraping of the trees against the tin roof. The building creaked and squeaked to the rhythm of the wind, and a sound from the kitchen played tricks on me, making me think someone or something was in there. I had to get up and look at one point when I felt most convinced, yet nothing was there. A strange sound in the roof was audible for much of the night as something was clawing and moving about. I thought rats possibly, or some other native Australian creature. I didn’t like to think.
All in all it was not the best night sleep I have ever had, and the thought of more nights like this brought on a sense of dread. I had to keep telling myself this was Australia, and this is what I came here to experience. I would try to enjoy myself from here on in, and maybe I might learn to actually like it here. We’ll see.
WWOOFing appears to be quite popular among travellers, and many that I have met have used one of the many Australian holiday packages available to get themselves out here to try it for themselves, and I would have to say I would certainly recommend this to anybody interested in seeing the real Australia, or any country for that matter.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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