I've finished my first WWOOFing adventure. It's quite a sad thing really, I had such a great time! Please let me tell you about some of the things I've been up to.
I stated in my The Road To Adelaide post that I was deposited in a very cold, dark, rainy Adelaide. Let's begin there shall we...
During communications prior to my arrival in Adelaide I had been supplied with suitable instructions that would enable me to use public transport and travel from the city's central bus station to my WWOOF host's house. I failed to find the correct bus station. I'm sure I could have found it, but the weather sapped my will to search for very long, instead I chose to try a thing I hadn't tried before; Uber.
Taking shelter under a large, permanent awning next to a closing electrical store, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket, fired up the Uber app (I'd already signed up back in Melbourne) and order myself my very first Uber Black cab. It showed up in about 5 minutes and took me to my destination. The driver was pleasant and the car was rather fancy, I felt a bit bad dumping my wet bags onto the Lexus' plush leather interior but never mind, what's done is done.
After making it to my destination I was welcomed into the house and shown around by Paul. As regular WWOOF hosts, Paul and his wife Jacqui have a dedicated "WWOOFer room" which sits separate (for now) from the main house where I would be sleeping. It was a nice room, recently kitted out with a new bed that folds up against the wall, I was the first to use it and can report that it is very comfortable.
I won't spend much time talking about Paul and Jacqui's house, because I wouldn't like my own house to be detailed by someone else on the internet.
The evening was uneventful, apart from extensive chatting with Paul about various subjects, and being introduced to Jacqui who returned home later from a workshop. After a while I sorted myself out and tucked myself into bed, ready for the following day's early arrival of permaculture students.
I was looking forward to this visit as I thought I'd learn a lot from it, and I would like to tell you about it. However, after getting up at 7am-ish and siting down for breakfast I started feeling very nauseas, and very unlike myself. I believe that the previous three days travelling had exhausted me; I went for a lie down and ended up waking again at 10am, suffering from a headache but generally feeling much better.
Saturday also brought with it the arrival of Estelle, Paul and Jacqui's daughter. I don't have much experience with children and was suitably terrified at the prospect of meeting a five year old. Thankfully for me, our initial meeting was brief as she was busy playing with the neighbouring children. Over the course of the next fortnight however, I learnt a great deal about how to interact with children, I was even reading stories by the end of my time WWOOFing.
As I had been feeling a tad unwell I was tasked with cracking walnuts for a few hours; an act that may sound dull, but one which I enjoyed. It's a strangely meditative task. Sunday was a fairly nondescript day as well so I won't write about it.
After the weekend was through though, some more tasks were required. Monday and Tuesday were taken up cleaning cars, washing windows, picking apples (incredibly tasty apples!), mulching garden waste, helping around the house, and planting some plants.
Not the most exciting image I've ever posted, but it shows what I did! I have no idea what kind of plants these are, but apparently they will grow thick and tall and will screen out the unsightly railway line.
Wednesday was the day when things really started though. It was the day that we all travelled to Paul and Jacqui's other property in Mclaren Vale, 40km or so south of Adelaide, in the wine growing region. No it's not a vineyard.
The place is called Berawinnia and is a 2 acre triangle of land that remains from farm land that had been owned and cultivated by Jacqui's family. The farm had been sold off but the 2 acre plot remained, to be kept within the family.
Those who follow me on Instagram will recognise this image. This is the main building at Berawinnia, it's used as living quarters, with kitchen, dining area and a bedroom. It's an amazing building, just look at the shape of the roof, and the posts that hold the veranda up!
I didn't sleep in this building though as, despite being autumn, the weather was rather pleasant (think 20 degrees with glorious sunshine kind of rather pleasant) so I was treated to a new experience.
I spent the following two nights in this little mesh tent. Exposed to the (mild) elements, and frequently woken by various critters, mostly possums. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are incredibly noisy at dawn!
Before all the intensive work began, on my first evening at Berawinnia I was asked to fetch a couple of limes. Estelle kindly showed me to where they'd be found, and also pointed out a Lemonade Fruit Tree.
On the right you will see a lime tree. On the left you will see a lemonade fruit tree.
Now hopefully I'm not showing my ignorance, and you are having thoughts similar to those I had. A "lemonade fruit tree"?? It was a five year old telling me about this tree so my immediate assumption was that this was a lemon tree and that Estelle had made the connection between lemons, and lemonade.
Turns out that my assumption was wrong. The following day, lunch was served with slices of what I believed to be lemon.
"Would you like some lemonade fruit?" asked Jacqui. "It's delicious, nice and sweet"
It just so happens that lemonade fruit is a thing. I don't know where they came from, but they taste like lemonade. You should be aware of this for no particular reason.
I'm sure at this point you'd like to know what I ended up doing at Berawinnia. And if you don't, tough, I'm going to tell you anyway.
My first responsibility was to use my creativity and a bunch of available natural materials to create a seating area where kids can remove their shoes before using something known as 'The Pancake"
Berawinnia is still an ongoing project but Jacqui hopes to use it for workshops to promote and teach the concepts of Nature Based Play; getting kids to play in the great outdoors, creating environments in which they can investigate, learn, and use their imaginations.
This is The Pancake. A large bouncy sheet thing stretched over a creek (water runs through the creek in winter). It's not for jumping on, just for lying, relaxing, stories etc. Here's another view.
As you can (just about) see, there are no shoes to be worn on The Pancake. But taking shoes off is a bit of a mucky, balancing act. It was anyway.
Please let me reveal "Tom's Boot Camp".
I positioned a large log and some tree stumps for seating, levelled the area a bit, and added some large slate slabs to stand on. Over time it should blend in really well with the surroundings and look really good. It worked too, a play group was held on Friday morning and the area was used extensively by both kids and adults.
WWOOFing isn't all just work though. Sometimes it involves learning about Australia; I learnt that this...
...is a Huntsman Spider, and that they are friendly and nice to have around!
After reading more about spiders, and thoroughly freaking myself out I managed to get to sleep for a short while until a possum scurried from tree to tree over my tent. Nights in the bush are not the most peaceful nights.
On Thursday I dug two holes. Holes are not very interesting, but here is a picture of one of the holes that I dug.
The holes have a purpose, I shall elaborate on that shortly.
But before that, on the Sunday I accompanied Jacqui and Estelle to a small fundraiser in aid of the Nepalese earthquake victims.
The fundraiser was a gathering of like minded individuals, all of whom had children. A fine excuse for a get together really, enjoying the outdoors and letting the kids roam free for a while. The venue was at another WWOOF host's place in Cherryville; a really nice clearing on a large property, near a creek.
On my way back up the hill once the fundraiser was finished, I managed to snap a shot of the site from above.
Good ain't it?! The main fundraising portion was a simple game for the kids. A hammer was placed on a stool, coins were thrown at the hammer, the coins closest to the hammer at the end won a prize. There were a few prizes, all homemade/grown produce for those who threw the most accurate pieces of change. At the end, all the change was collected and donated, the total was about $135AU.
Anyway, I mentioned that the venue was by a creek. I went for a walk beside said creek, exploring the surrounding bush land and saw myself some wildlife. The most impressive was a pair of deer. I was wandering aimlessly and suddenly drew myself to a halt as I somehow spotted, camouflaged against the bush, a single deer (possibly a spotted deer but I'm not sure) staring at me. After a short while one of its friends, whom I hadn't spotted, bounded past and the original deer joined it, bounding off in to the undergrowth.
The other cool bit of wildlife I saw was a koala. I've already seen wild koalas in an area where they were known to be so finding one myself in a random area made me feel like this was my first properly wild koala.
Can you spot the tiny little grey blob in the trees (follow the line of the main tree trunk)? It was easier to see with my actual eyes, no zoom lens and all that.
I spent another couple of days at the beginning of my second week helping around the house back in Adelaide, more walnuts, more pruning, more revegetating, until Wednesday rolled round again, bringing with it another trip to Berawinnia.
This is where my holes become really useful, but before I tell you about that, I should show you some of the other things around the property.
Here we see a giant River Red Gum tree. I like Gum trees, they are gnarled, and twisted, and generally look awesome. You'll notice a tree house like platform on this tree, this could have been used as a sleeping platform but timing and weather made it too much of a faff.
Tucked away in the trees is this little cubby, made primarily of willow, and housing tree stumps for sitting on.
The in-progress pizza oven. All it needs is the rendering to finish it off and it should be ready for cooking.
And then there's this incredible looking bridge. I'm not sure which woods have been used to make it but the hand rails are just fantastic.
Just one more thing before I tell you what became of the holes I dug. I'd like to show you another spider. Mainly because I haven't managed to identify it yet, so it could be a really dangerous one, it could be harmless too though. I found him trundling around the barrow I was mixing concrete in.
So yeah, concrete. I mixed some. Quite a lot really, but not after digging a few more, smaller holes, and placing some rather large posts. Wednesday and Thursday were really full on days, and the result was a good start on the construction of a structure that will be used for massaging in the future.
You can quite clearly see the three large posts that myself and Paul positioned. There are then three small post shoes concreted into the ground, they're hiding in the green plastic shrouds. I'm quite proud of my concreting work, although despite my Dad's advice, I did mix it a bit too wet. Never mind!
And that brought me to the end of my first WWOOFing experience, a fantastic two weeks during which I learnt all sorts of new stuff, helped with projects big and small, met wonderful new people, and managed to secure 14 of the required 88 days specified work towards a visa extension!
My thanks go to Paul, Jacqui, and Estelle for welcoming me into their home, hopefully I can return at some point, maybe to do some more WWOOFing!
I'm now sat in a wonderfully quiet hostel in Adelaide where I stayed last night, and have one more night before the next WWOOFing adventure; I'm hiring a car and driving North to an orchard near the Flinders mountain range for five days of work. Who knows what it'll be like?! No doubt you'll find out in a week or so...