Still deciding what to do this summer? Do you want to go travelling but find yourself on a tight budget? Do you wish to discover new countries without paying a fortune on food and sweaty hostel dorms?
Then why not try WWOOFing? It is a great way to get to know a country and its people hands on, and making the travel funds last a little bit longer at the same time!
I spent 3 months travelling around Queensland, Australia this way with a friend of mine to gather up enough days to be eligible for our 2nd WHV. But of course it exists all over the globe and can be done just for the pure experience of it, not counting any "farm days"!
We lived in an articulated Adelaide city bus and teeny cottages, planted garlic and chased 150 kilo wild boars around in our wellington boots - basically, had a whole lot of experiences that have now emerged into funny anecdotes and good memories!
How it works: In exchange for accommodation and food, you spend a couple of hours each day with whatever needs doing on the farm in particular. It can be anything from removing weeds to building fences or looking after animals.
In Australia you can buy yourself like a "telephone catalog" and simply call/email the places where you are interested in working. It also doubles up as an insurance in case something would happen. Alternatively you sign up on the website and start browsing the ads online!
The following is roughly what sort of places we stayed and work we did during our 88 days of WWOOFing in QLD:
... which is actually an aboriginal name translating roughly to "Land of the Clouds", which is literally where we stayed - high up in the mountains close to McKay.
Stayed in: a fancy designer wooden house surrounded by paddocks, where I got my own room and free access to the book shelf full of Murakami etc.
Worked with: pruning and planting hoop pines that the landowner was gonna make a fortune on in say... 30 years.
... stayed with a sweet couple living about an hour drive from Bundaberg, where we went to stock up on groceries once a week. They drove us around to all kinds of places + took us to see their friends who had hundreds of cool birds such as the kookaburra passing by their yard each day.
Stayed in: Our very own articulated bus out in the yard full of bunk beds etc - so cosy! (Apart from perhaps one night when we had left the roof hatch open and got awoken by the couple's cat Gingin as he jumped down and landed in Ida's bed!)
Worked with: Originally we planted garlic, but we ended up staying for so long that we also got assigned painting bee hives, another bus standing on the yard and sewing curtains for our very own bus! We also fed the animals, drove 4x4's and numerous times tried to get Hoodini, who greeted you to this post, back in his paddock after he had escaped. (He was darn good at dribbling!)
... which unfortunately is pronounced with a silent R, aka not nerdy! </3 I learnt the word undulating here, which describes the landscapes just perfect! Stayed with a lovely Australian/Scottish couple that had SO many great quotes and wise words surrounding their home.
Stayed in: A garage, which in the Australian winter made me very very jealous of Ida's sleeping bag that she had carried all over the country.
Worked with: Clearing out + redecorating part of the garden, helping out at the town's wee Memorial Hall where they held Christmas in July (where we had to dress up as reindeer, as depicted above), jumble sales & screened the State of Origin rugby games.
This is as close as we could get to a postcode rural enough to be eligible for 2nd year visa days to count, so we ended up staying with two families in Beerwah! The first family had 3 kids whereof 2 had the same chromosome alteration that is like a one in several millions chance of getting, making them disabled to walk and talk. It was SO interesting to see how the house had been adjusted to the boys.
Stayed in: An old caravan out in the garden.
Worked with: Gardening, weeding and picking bloody COFFEE BEANS (!!!). They also had these amazing amount of Avocado and Macadamia nuts growing in the garden. Only my own biggest aspiration in life!
... Last family we visited. The (rather senile) mother of one of them stayed in the house with us as the couple went off to work in the weekdays. Why I say rather senile, she kept introducing herself + talking about how they were "originally from NSW" like each time we past her.
Stayed in: our own little cottage a bit away from the household.
Worked with: Mainly looking after the ducks/hens, but also helped to revamp a house they were due to sell.
Now it is always that fear "what if we don't get along/like each other", which is of course mutual between host and worker, but believe me - that has never been the case. As these people open up their homes to you, you get acquainted fairly well and as long as you treat their home with respect I see no reason for it not to work out. If you feel uneasy, bring a friend along for the adventure and of course you are not entitled to stay if things do not work out!
There are tonnes of benefits to this experience, particularly to be able to see just how different people live their lives, and to hear their life stories. Big thumbs up!
→ Do you have any similar experiences of working at farms or this way of travelling, or would you like to travel this way? x
After completing our 88 days of work, we went to WA for a roadtrip which you can read about by clicking here.