For those of you that liked Rosie and Claire’s story, here is a second article they have written. They love to travel with host networks as well and in their case, they had a lot of experience of Wwoofing.
I’m not into this kind of work at all, so it is perfect to share this story from their perspective. I am sure many of you would love to do some work on a farm jobs but it is just not my style.
OK let’s check it out…..
What on earth is Wwoofing?! Have you ever heard of Wwoof? I hadn’t until I started meeting backpackers on my travels. No it’s not a popular kids TV show about a cute dog! It’s increasingly popular in Australia and New Zealand and in fact it’s an exciting option for travellers all over the world.Wwoof is an acronym for ‘World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms’ and it was first established in London in 1971 as a means of bringing city workers closer to the countryside.
Now the organization is over 40 years old and with groups in over 50 countries, it has developed into not only a social network but a whole database of hosts. It’s basically a directory of individuals, couples, families, groups and businesses who are looking for volunteers to give them a helping hand on their journey to becoming self-sufficient.
This is a brilliant option if you want to travel to the more remote parts of a country and live and work there like a local. It’s also a good thing if you’re looking to get involved in eco- friendly educational work projects, big or small. Work is usually physical and will often require you to work outdoors.
Wwoof projects largely promote sustainability and environmental awareness in the areas of bio-dynamic agriculture, horticulture, permaculture, organic farming, animal husbandry or hospitality and eco- tourism. Not only will you be experiencing a new lifestyle but you will be contributing directly to a local business and community through a respected voluntary organisation.
I Wwoofed my way all over Australia and I had some of the most amazing experiences that I have had in my life, to date.
Membership costs will vary depending on your country (I paid around $60 Australian dollars). For this price you will be registered as available for work on the website and you will also receive the Wwoof handbook which will quickly become your ultimate backpacking bible. Personally I think joining Wwoof was worth every penny.
Once you are registered online you will be able to create your personal profile which should include some interesting facts about you, your skills and your adventure so far. Hosts will be able to view your profile and may choose to contact you directly on the phone so make sure you have a number they can contact you on.
The book is useful as it lists all the hosts by region, provides their contact details and a short (sometimes very, very long) profile with information about each host, what they are offering and what will be required of you.
Wwoofing works on a volunteering basis so you won’t usually be offered any money in return for your services. Wwoof is an exchange between you and your host and you will be expected to work 4-6 hours per day in return for accommodation and meals. Usually you get a day off to go out and explore and there is plenty of time during the day to soak up your surroundings. Some people stay for 2 weeks, others for 2 months and you can stay up to 12 months with the same host.
But it’s not all about the work, it’s also nice to get to know your host and their family or make new friendships with fellow volunteers and locals. During time off most hosts will make you feel welcome and you could be taken off sightseeing or even lucky enough to have access to a car to go and explore your area.
The work is varied and suitable jobs and volunteering hours will be discussed with you and the host depending on the host’s needs as well as your interests, skills and experience. Woofing opportunities I have seen range from tropical fruit picking, alpaca farming, tree planting and vine pruning to domestic chores, housekeeping and hospitality, arts projects, building projects and community projects. There is something that appeals to absolutely everyone.
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with any of these things – that’s what it’s all about, experience. Woofing gives you the opportunity to live and work in an area of your choice where you can save money on food and accommodation. You can gain worthwhile experience (which will look great on a CV) and who knows it could even lead to paid work depending on your home country. In Australia Wwoofing is eligible towards a second year visa!
It doesn’t matter if your 16 or 60 woofing could be for you. I have made friends for life through woofing, I have gained skills I never knew I had and I have had experiences I never could have dreamed of.
In my first experience I worked for a couple in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne. They ran a small business making fresh organic pasta and home-made ice cream, sourcing their ingredients from local organic farms and selling the product at local farmers markets and music festivals.
I also volunteered in a community on the south coast of Sydney where I worked in the kitchen at the stunning Govinda Valley Yoga Retreat Centre. They taught me some brilliant skills in the kitchen and I spent three months learning about how to prepare and cook delicious organic meals to the highest standards.
After my time in the kitchen I decided I wanted to be outdoors again and I really needed some sun. I joined my partner in New South Wales at a retreat centre set on 6 acres of lush green rainforest. This place is in the hinterlands of Byron Bay; surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen in my life. It looked like a picture on the front of a postcard.
We fell in love with Gunnebah and the people living there, and we fast became part of the family. We made life- long friends and the work that we did was an absolute pleasure, so much so that we were offered a paid job. We managed the whole property maintaining the house to the gardens; checking guests in and out, bed making, fire making, chook feeding, pool cleaning, spider chasing, you name it we did it!
Through Wwoofing I discovered that I possessed skills that I never even considered before. I acquired many new skills and experiences as well; it kept me fit, made me stronger, brought me closer to nature, improved my practical skills, logic, decision making and most of all it allowed me to overcome my fear of most Australian reptiles! I made numerous new friends and contacts during my time Wwoofing and I was able to see parts of the country that would have been otherwise inaccessible to me. I have had some amazing conversations and I have shared some wonderful travel experiences with both hosts and travellers.
I am greatful to all the hosts who generously opened up their doors and welcomed me into their life and their homes as well as their businesses. I would like to thank my first hosts Carl and Jen for being totally crazy and spontaneous- you guys are such an inspiration. I would also like to thank Pritha Dasi (Esperanza) and Patrick (Padma) @ Govinda Valley for their guidance and for opening up my eyes to certain ideas and ways of life. And lastly but in no way least, I would like to recommend Gunnebah Retreat Centre as being one of the most wonderful places on earth- a huge thank you to my friends Marlena and Pascal, Leonora and Muchsin and the awesome Jeremy Melder… Fantastic times, what a laugh- I’d do it all over again without a second thought.
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