WWOOF WWOOF!

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Trip End Mar 08, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, November 1, 2012




Did you know that kangaroos and emus can't walk backwards? No, we didn’t either till we came to Wahroonga Station and were told this along with a great deal of information about life in the outback.  (Apparently this is why they are the Australian emblem – Australia is a country which only moves forward!  Holly, is this true or are we being taken for ride round a billabong?) 

We have been Wwoofing on the station for the last week. What is Wwoof?  "You exchange between 4 and 6 hours per day of your time and energy for your food and accommodation".  Wwoof stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms, and there are many stations doing it, although they are not strictly speaking all organic.  Wahroonga is run by a young couple, Susie and Guy.  It’s a Merino sheep and rangeland goat station 384 miles2  which, according to John, is larger than Exmoor National Park!  But much easier to drive around as all the tracks are straight and run either North/South or East/West.  The sheep are for wool and meat and the goats for meat – sadly for live export to Asia. 

We have a different perspective on the bush now we have been shown around by Guy.  You look at the bush, then you look at the sheep and think 'what on earth do they eat?’  Well not just  grass!  But a myriad other things including seeds and leaves from several bushes, shoots and some fresh grasses when it’s rained.  They all look remarkably well.  As do the kangaroos and emus which share the country and the water.  John especially has seen quite a few of them as he’s been out more doing ‘men’s work’.  One day he drove miles to a community baiting get together  - laying out a ton of meat to dry ready to be injected with 1080 poison (indigenous animals are immune to this bait but it kills dogs, foxes and feral cats which are a serious problem for stock and small native animals).  A day or 2 later he sat on the back of the ute for 2 hours throwing out the pieces of meat every 100 metres for 110 km!  We both had a trip on the ‘Mill Run’ cleaning and checking the water troughs which used to all be supplied with water by windmills, but now about 50% have bore water piped to them.  Susie and Guy are fortunate to have had an Artesian bore put in so they have plenty of water.  Unfortunately, although the stock finds it palatable it’s pretty yucky so it’s rainwater for the people and that is a limited supply and has to be used carefully.

Mostly I helped out with the kids, the house and the watering – the grounds around the house are quite extensive but have to be watered every day to maintain them.  The grass can tolerate the bore water with sprinklers but the plants need rainwater and this is done with hoses and watering cans.  Emily, who is 4, is educated at home through the ‘School of the Air’.  She will be 5 next April, so she would have just started school in the UK in September.  Although not compulsory this year, Susie has been doing lessons with her since last January following a detailed and comprehensive curriculum, all materials supplied and 2 x 20 min ‘on air’ (skype but no video – yet) lessons along with 4 other children her age.  It’s a big pressure on Susie to dedicate this time to her, along with looking after a 2 year old, but Emily is very advanced by the standards I’ve come across at home.  The joys of 1 to 1!  Fortunately Locky (2 yr old) is never happier than being out with his dad.  Or being minded by a Wwoofer!

We have been living in the Cottage which is actually a 2 bedroomed house originally built by Guy and his Dad for Susie and Guy when they came to live on the station.  It’s been a far cry from the little van but we are looking forward to getting going again.  Partly the 7 o’clock start for work in the morning (although we get up at 6 anyway this work business is a bit of a shock), also we are isolated – 130 km from the nearest town – I went with Susie and the children the other day; it took an hour and 20m so you can’t forget the milk!  They have the property on the market and are having a viewing this week so we have spent the last 2 days cleaning up.  Time to move on…………

Maybe we can Wwoof again later.



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Comments

Jane on

What a fascinating change from being on the move,I'm sure you are both ready for the next part of the journey though. Sounds so interesting. Can't wait to hear all your stories in detail. Happy travelling. Love from us both Jane and DaveX

Judith on

About time you did some work instead of all this holiday malarkey! Sounds really interesting. We spent the weekend squelching around the Forest of Bowland and getting hailed on with Tom and the Ls. They are coming to Sydney with us on Feb 16th, staying for two weeks in Coogee. We stay on until April 1st so maybe we'll overlap?

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