Article written by Vera Di Campli San Vito 14/11/22. Photos provided by Noeline Dahlen-Maclean
Learning a thing or two…
We all need some kind of fuel to run on, in fact everything does.
I run on B.P.
Be Patient. Be Positive. Be Punctual. Be Productive.
Be Progressive. Be Polite. Be Pliable. Be Presentable.
Be Proficient. Be Precise. Be Pioneering. Be Private.
Be Persuasive. Be Poignant. Be Personable. Be Present.
And Be Pleasured in your work and achievement.
It is great stuff, that B.P.
— Noeline Dahlen-Maclean
“As possibly your first WWOOF host, longest serving and oldest host (now 92 years of age) I can honestly say that it has been a privilege to be part of your organisation.
“What an experience to be able to connect with so many young lives (and some not so young – the youngest a 15 year old girl from Japan, the oldest a 75 year old gentleman from Alaska) from 30 different countries, from Kenya to Afghanistan. I have been enriched by their cultures and cuisines and I trust that the knowledge that they have gained from WWOOFing with me will be a part of their lives forever.”
So says Jindabyne Host, Noeline Dahlen-Maclean, pictured above, some years back, with four Swedish WWOOFers which she called her angels, or “Swangels”.
In 1981, when WWOOF started in Australia, Noeline was the Administration Manager and Coordinator at Newhaven Park, Georgia’s Plains, which was the National headquarters for the Agricultural Technologists of Australasia and a Murray Grey stud. At this interesting and busy place, Noeline hosted her first WWOOFers, as well as international visitors taking agricultural tours, primary school groups, and week long live-in camps to give students studying agriculture some practical experience.
Since then, she’s hosted WWOOFers at several other properties including at her current place in the Snowy Mountains, The Kunama Cultural Education Centre.
At the moment, a young Australian WWOOFer, Iyana, is visiting her. Noeline says she doesn’t get many Australian WWOOFers, but she’s hosted over 30 nationalities of WWOOFers in the past 40 years and it has been “an amazing experience”.
Iyana has written a book called The Earth is Sacred, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to get it published. Iyana lived in the Daintree Rainforest for 2 years. She’s knowledgeable about Aboriginal plants and food, and is passionate about planting seeds for the next generation of Earth guardians, fostering connection to nature, culture and celebration. The book is a family adventure which aims to cultivate a deeper relationship with life by encouraging its readers to see themselves as a part of their environment. As Noeline is associated with the Snowy Mountains Readers and Writers Festival, she hopes the book will tie in with that.
This is just one way in which Noeline is helping WWOOFers along their life’s path. After so many years of hosting, she is keen to educate and train the younger generations, and to help WWOOFers get the best out of their experience of WWOOFing.
“I’m very involved with disability because of my gorgeous son John (above), who was a six foot dream of a young man, a top sportsman, a superb rider, he had everything going for him, absolutely amazing. But 32 years ago, when he was 22, he developed a very rare degenerative disease of the brain stem. He had to give up work and it’s been an uphill challenge ever since. Nevertheless, over the years he’s been very involved with helping and training our WWOOFers within his capabilities, taking them on trips, to visit people, giving them an interesting aspect on life, until he had to stop driving. They were so interesting for John and likewise John was wonderful with them, even with his disability.
“I cared for him at home up until Covid hit. Then it became very difficult and he had to move into a care centre 250km away from me.
“So, I want to keep using the WWOOF platform to inspire the young people and kids today who won’t get off their computers and gaming machines. People say to me, ‘Why don’t you sell the place, Noeline, and go into a retirement home.’ Well, no, that’s no way. When you get to my age, you just become invisible, no one wants to know what you’re doing. I might have difficulties walking these days, but I can still work the young ones into the ground!”
In 1950, when the Commonwealth Games were known as the British Empire Games, Noeline competed in the springboard and highboard diving events and won a silver and a bronze medal, respectively. She also made it into the selection squad for the Olympic Games in 1948 (London) and 1952 (Helsinki).
“As an educator, what I am doing with this course is using the disciplines and training required at top sports level (that help so much with a disability) as a platform or guide for training for the Olympics of life.”
Of course, Noeline’s WWOOFers have things to say about her, too. Noeline is still in touch with some of them, including Eunmi from Korea, now resident in Australia, who considers Noeline her “Aussie grandma”:
“I was a city girl from Korea who didn’t have much idea about gardening, farming, housekeeping, growing vegetables, helping with stock and even cooking. As a curious girl, everything was new, interesting and wonderful. I learned and experienced things that I would have never imagined … I learned so much about life knowledge and wisdom through the time with Noeline and it gave confidence and excitement for the rest of my WWOOF experience and travelling.”
Also, Maxime from France, a French IT executive who took a year out to relax and recharge by WWOOFing in Australia, recently wrote to Noeline: “I remember well many times this journey because you inspire me with strength and your smile. Thank you again for the experience with you and John. I think it built me as a man.”
Grass Roots Magazine has also published an article about Noeline.
If you would like to WWOOF with Noeline, see her WWOOF Host Profile for details.