Would you like to preserve a rainforest? How about digging up some truffles in the outback? Or maybe making organic olive oil is more your thing? If you said yes to any of the above, then it’s time you discovered a different side of Australia and went WWOOFing.
Australia is the world’s biggest island so it’s no surprise that the WWOOF association helps put over 12,000 people on a variety of interesting and diverse farms each year. With such a huge amount of people getting involved, we decided to visit WWOOF HQ in Victoria to learn what we can and ask their advice on how you can get started
“WWOOF Australia was started in 1981 by Lionel Pollard after he spent time WWOOFing in England during the 70s and became fascinated by the concept,” said Traci Wilson-Brown, Office Manager at WWOOF Australia. “33 years later we have over 2,800 hosts providing a huge choice for people to go and learn how and where their food comes from and about our environment.”
Why go WWOOFing?
For 4-6 hours of work a day, you can exchange your labour for food and board with the added benefit of learning about organic principles and food production. WWOOFing also provides some unforgettable memories in some of the most scenic places in Australia as well as an opportunity to get locals’ expertise of their region.
“Many hosts give their WWOOFers advice on road trips or show them all the best things in their area,” said Traci. “WWOOFing is full of win-win stuff like that.”
The Second Year Visa
WWOOFing in Australia also provides an opportunity for travellers on a working holiday visa to obtain a second year visa. However, there are different requirements that have to be met to ensure this is achieved.
“WWOOFers must complete 7-8 hours a day for 5 days a week and it must be done for at least 88 days,” said Traci. “To mix it up, WWOOFers can go to a number of properties and get different learning experiences from certain parts of Australia.”
A Word of Warning
There are firms who operate for commercial farms and find people to work on them. The farms pay these labour hire companies to find the workers, but the companies often end up under paying the workers and put them into poor accommodation
“A lot of people who join WWOOF do so because they have been burned by that scenario and they know that with WWOOFing they’ll be living with a family and there is an organisation that will look after them,” said Traci.
Regardless of what type of WWOOFer you are, it is paramount that there is a fair exchange between yourself and the host.
“When hosts and WWOOFers go in with the right heart, the exchange works really well,” said Traci. “It’s only when the hosts see it as free labour or WWOOFers see it as a free bed that the exchange doesn’t work.”
Make Lifelong Friends
When you share a home with a family and work with them to achieve something, you’ll soon find yourself becoming quick friends. Recently, a host told Traci how their past WWOOFers jumped at the chance to help them travel the world.
“They went to nine different countries and didn’t pay a cent in accommodation because they just stayed with their WWOOFers who were delighted to see them again. All they had to pay for was their travel costs.”
How You Can Sign Up
Right here. Fill out your details, pay the membership fee ($70) and then you’ll be given access to WWOOF Australia’s forum and book. From here you can choose a host that interests you and make direct contact to arrange a stay.
On the WWOOF Forum there is also a wealth of information about organics as well as some recipes and travellers advice, as well as hosts and WWOOFers connecting with each other.
For more information about WWOOFing in Australia, visit their website here.