Some time ago, I took a trip with friends to somewhere near Oxford; to a place in the middle of nowhere. I was driving, and when we couldn’t find the location, all three of us in the car turned to our phones for GPS aid. None of us had reception, this discovery prompted the me to start a sentence with “What on Earth did people do before GP-” and finish it (at point of realisation) with “I’VE GOT A BLOODY MAP IN MY CAR!!”
In that instance the map wasn’t much help as it didn’t have enough detail. Eventually, after driving along the road to somewhere with houses on both sides of the road, we managed to get enough reception to get Google Maps to show us the way.
When you’re on your own, in the arse end of nowhere, around 250km North of Adelaide, looking for a road that isn’t even shown on Google Maps, you have very intermittent phone reception, and the only map you have looks like this:
things get a bit more worrisome.
The saving grace with this crude map, is that it is exactly as detailed as it needs to be. There aren’t many roads that come off the “Main North Road” between Laura and Wirrabara, and as the likelihood of meeting any other road users is very low, you can drive really slowly to check the tiny signposts that mark each road with its name.
I was driving a trusty little Toyota Corolla that I’d rented for the week, here it is:
It felt good to be back in the driving seat after so long relying on public transport, and my legs. Although despite booking a car with a manual gear box, I was presented with an automatic. I’m sure my dad will be proud of me for going back to the office and stating that if someone specifically requests a manual, you shouldn’t give them an automatic. I’m also sure he’ll understand when my ideals were met with deaf ears. Nevertheless, I was surprised to find myself enjoying the automatic. I’m still not sure what the SPORT button does though, the car seemed to do nothing differently. Anyway, I digress…
I did successfully arrive at my destination, 8km down the road-that-doesn’t-exist-for-Google, and was greeted by a goose in front of a nice looking verandah.
I had reached my second WWOOF host. Huzzah! This time I was to be staying, and working of course, on an organic orchard owned and maintained by the lovely Jackie and David.
As well as being an orchard (stone fruits; apricots, plums and such), there are some livestock; there are chickens who were decidedly camera shy, goats
one of which was very inquisitive
and a couple of horses.
It’s a really nice place, and I was to spend a week there. Well 6 nights to be precise, I arrived on the Sunday evening and had to get the car back to Adelaide the following Saturday. Being in the middle of nowhere however, makes connecting to the internet difficult.
Jackie and David don’t have broadband, they use a very data limited, high cost mobile internet, with no WiFi so connecting to that wasn’t an option. And being on the Optus network, I found it very difficult to find even basic phone signal. This would prove, and most of you will be shocked when I say this, to be quite a pleasing experience. The main issue I had was that I might miss a few daily puzzles from Bonza. Lacking regular Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram access didn’t really bother me.
I did of course manage to find some signal; enough to download my daily Bonza puzzle and briefly check social media and the news at strategic points. It was slow, and a bit awkward as I had to walk up a large hill through the orchard before my phone kicked into gear. The view was pleasant though.
As well as admiring the view here, you can also admire some of my handy work. One of the jobs I was tasked with was to weed, compost, and cover the area around apricot tree trunks with straw. On this side of the equator it's approaching winter so things are wrapping up around the orchard, both in terms of production, and keeping warm! The compost and straw will provide the surrounding soil with nutrients and keep the micro-organisms alive over the colder months.
Hey, I learned some things! Benefits of WWOOfing I guess! Another thing I learned was to do with planting some native vegetation.
This here is an Acacia seedling that I lovingly re-homed to an area of land that has been fenced off from the goats in order to revegetate with native plants. Here’s a Sticky Hot Bush seedling that I planted too.
With the season ending and farm maintenance moving into full swing I, and my fellow WWOOFers (a French couple; Betty, and Xavier) were tasked with quite a lot of weeding. Mostly marshmallows, which I discovered (to my disappointment) were not fluffy, white, and sugary; they are in fact, large, green, and have massive roots. They also must be removed, and I removed a lot of them.
Now, if anyone can work the act of weeding into an exciting piece of literary prose then I salute them. I am unable to do so, instead I shall show you an image of one of the more notable areas I weeded; the vegetable patch.
There’s not much growing in the veg patch at the moment (winter is coming) but it still looks green, mainly because this picture has broccoli in the foreground.
There is still produce left in the orchard though, and with important markets happening on the Saturday I left, and the Sunday after, quite a lot of it was picked to sell. Here’s Betty with a lot of the produce ready to be packed up.
The market that was being prepared for on the Friday was the annual Gourmet Food Market, held at a town called Clare, about a 45 minute drive toward Adelaide. As I needed to get my car back to the city on the Saturday I didn’t help out at the market (the positive of this being that I got a lie in), but as Clare is en-route (a nice scenic route no less) to Adelaide I got chance to call in. I didn’t take any pictures whilst I was there as the place was packed, but I wandered round the stalls.
Obviously there was a stall for O’reilly’s Orchard, combined with some other local Wirrabara producers, who were doing good trade. I bought a rather fancy burger from a stall, and also tasted their parmesan infused olive oil, and their Dukkah. I also bought an amazing apple pie that thoroughly put Mr Kipling to shame. Among the other stalls were free range egg vendors, bread stalls, gluten free snack stalls, and many more.
During the weekend of the market, the vendors team up with local wineries and host large gourmet meals to showcase there produce, sadly I had to miss this. I guess I’ll have to go back next year.
After spending a quick half an hour wandering around the market I had to start motoring again. The journey back to Adelaide was smooth, and straight forward. I only stopped twice, once for fuel, and once to photograph this place. I assume it’s a ranch, but I was mostly intrigued by the beat up old truck out front.
And yes. I did take a picture for Motor Damage!
And that pretty much wraps up (in a very condensed way) my second WWOOFing experience. I've just spent the last four nights in Cairns (more on that to come) and haven't had enough WiFi to upload this blog until now, as I am waiting for my airport shuttle so I can catch a plane to Brisbane. And I still need to show you my other pictures from Adelaide, but that will have to wait for another time.
Before I go though, I need to reveal something that I teased on Facebook around the middle of last week.
The weather on Monday and Tuesday wasn’t spectacular; mostly cloudy, with some short spells of rain. Wednesday however was much clearer. And it stayed clear into the evening, when it got dark, giving me the chance to see something I’ve been hoping to see since I was still in England.
More specifically, a clear, night sky, in the Southern Hemisphere, that doesn’t suffer from light pollution.
I’ve seen the Northern Hemisphere’s offering before, and that’s an incredible sight. The Southern Hemisphere is no different. There’s something really humbling about looking up and seeing Milky Way, smeared across the sky as if someone was let loose with a star covered paint brush.
Until next time, enjoy…