By WWOOFer Annabella Bray
My first WWOOFing experience was in Aoteoroa/New Zealand in 1990, I was backpacking on a 6-month visa with very little money and soon realised I needed to do some voluntary work, an organisation which would provide me with board and lodging, and WWOOFing was a great way to achieve both.
During this time, I WWOOFed on an organic orchard where I got to know how good geese are as guard animals, I then travelled to an organic dairy farm where I learnt how heavy cows are if they stand on your foot! I also fell in love with pigs there, not realising what personalities they have. I had always had an allergy to cow’s milk but discovered that my cow milk allergy totally disappeared if I drank milk fresh from the cow or ate home-made ice-cream. After some time, there I hitched my way north to a yoga retreat centre where several other international WWOOFers and I got the opportunity to learn some carpentry and were rewarded with free yoga classes which was amazing.
Life then took its twist and turns; I had a long break from WWOOFing. Sometime later I returned to Australia, moved to the country, had a baby, and got involved in Steiner education. When my son was 11 years old, I took him backpacking to Fiji where we stayed in villages and followed up with a six-month trek around Australia as backpackers. We carried a backpack each with sleeping bag attached, I carried the tent. We travelled by train, coach, and lifts from fellow travellers. We started our journey in Ballarat and travelled via South Australia, Alice Springs, Darwin, across the Kimberley’s and down the West Coast to the forests of W.A.
Together we WWOOFed on a cattle farm on Kangaroo Island, an olive grove in the Adelaide Hills, a million-acre cattle station and visitor resort in the Kimberley’s and a family-run organic farm at Humpty Doo. My son learnt that olives are very bitter straight off the tree! And that watermelons are really heavy. He learnt to entertain toddlers and enjoyed school-on-the-air sessions in the Kimberley’s. We both learnt how ‘fun’ it is to pick up a paddock of donkey poo first thing in the morning. We could not have done such an adventurous trip without the possibility of WWOOFing stays – where we were mostly made to feel very welcome and well fed and comfortably accommodated – of course this is not always the case and I guess it is part of the experience, one never knows for sure what each individual WWOOFing place will be like, so adaptability is key.
I am currently working on a historical biography about the life of a native constable who lived on the South Coast of NSW 200 years ago. In order to have the time for this, I house sit and do some occasional nannying jobs. I have also started WWOOFing again to spend time in the country and enjoy country living, due to COVID, I only had the opportunity to do one WWOOF experience last year but looking to embrace my next journey. At my ‘advanced’ age of 56, I will be more selective with the hosts I choose and the tasks that they require, communication is everything so reading their profiles and asking as many questions before I arrive is essential, I may not be as fit as I once was, but I have a lifetime of experiences, skills, and knowledge to share.
To preview hosts before joining, use the List search, you will be able to search hosts within each State and see their basic profiles, to give you an idea of the types of experiences you can look forward to as a WWOOF member.
Click on the membership of your choice below and get started on your own WWOOFing adventure!