WWOOF was introduced to Australia in 1981 by Lionel and Valerie Pollard. At the time, Lionel was an inspector for the Australian and international organic certifying body NASAA.
The WWOOF office was set up in Lionel and Valerie’s spare room in the Dandenong Ranges. Correspondence and the WWOOF Book were typed by Valerie using an old typewriter and then copied with a spirit duplicator called a Roneo machine.
The Pollards moved to W. Tree, a small locale in the Snowy Mountains, Victoria, in the late 1980s to join the intentional community Mt Murrindal Co-op. They again operated WWOOF Australia from a spare room in their house.
As WWOOF Australia grew, the workings of WWOOF were transferred to a demountable 2 room office opposite their house, and employed two extra staff members. Computers and a photocopier were installed, and so out went the typewriter and Roneo machine! Lionel was known to have flagged down the Oz Adventure bus numerous times as it drove through W. Tree so that he could deliver a WWOOFer’s book. He was typically dressed in just his pyjamas and dressing gown – it was 5.00am after all. Talk about customer service!
Garry Ainsworth took over the operation of WWOOF Australia in 1997 around the time the GST hit. Lionel had now turned 60 and felt someone younger was needed to take WWOOF in Australia forward. The number of staff currently is 6 people, employed on a full and part-time basis and who live locally.
WWOOF Australia office is now located on Sunrise farm, W. Tree, in a mud brick hexagon building on 5 acres. Kangaroos, numerous species of birds and other wildlife are constantly in our front and backyard. We currently list 2636 hosts Australia wide and anywhere between 10,000 and 12,000 WWOOFers join per year.
We still print the WWOOF book as a significant part of Australia does not have internet or good internet connectivity and mobile phone coverage is poor. Indeed the WWOOF Australia office relies on satellite internet and we do not have mobile phone coverage. We are hoping to release a smart phone application very soon for downloading on to phones or mobile devices. Once the app is downloaded, internet or mobile phone coverage is not an issue. WWOOFers will be able to access hosts’ information, and there will no longer be a need to carry a book around as the app will identify the person as a member of WWOOF. When back in range the app automatically updates.
You can follow us on Facebook WwoofingAustralia
Ph: (03) 5155 0218
WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchanges, to build a sustainable global community.