Here’s a little known fact about backpacking around Australia: If you would like to extend your working holiday visa for an extra year (the first is valid for one year), you have to complete 3 months of agricultural work in a country region. Having grown up a city girl in London, naturally I thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and grabbed the bull by the horns! A good friend of mine had recently completed her 3 months work ‘wwoofing’ at a farm-stay in Queensland and thoroughly recommended the experience.
It may sound a little like a strange sexual practice (people look horrified when I say I am a wwoofer!), but it actually stands for ‘willing workers on organic farms.’ The idea is that you exchange an agreed amount of hours of work per day for food and accomodation. Unfortunately, some farmers take advantage of the fact that many backpackers are desperate to stay in the country, and wildly exploit them. During my travels, I have come across many young backpackers who have had disastrous experiences, ranging from being conned out of hundreds of dollars with the promise of farm work, to slaving away 10 hours a day with a wage of $4 an hour. As a girl travelling alone, I figured that wwoofing would be the safest way to complete the work, as I would have have the organisation to report to if things went horribly wrong. There are thousands of hosts to choose from, all over Australia, and all over the world – in fact, wwoofing actually originated in England!
I took a deep breath, broadened my mind and bid farewell to my friends in Melbourne. I had to fly to Sydney and take a 3.5 hour train ride to get to my destination, but my journey hadn’t even begun yet… My first stop was Sandy Creek Vineyard in Broke, Hunter Valley, New South Wales – home to beautiful wine, rolling hills, glorious sunsets, and me for 7 weeks!
Please check out www.wwoof.com.au for more information about wwoofing in Australia.
My lovely host, Lynne, is a very talented professional photographer and also holds weddings at Sandy Creek: http://portraitsonthemove.com.au/sandy-creek-vineyard/