“What did you get up to on the weekend?”
“I was wwoofing”.
There is rarely a follow up question to this answer. Usually it’s a tilted head and look in the eye, which suggests my friend already regrets asking at all. I have fun and choose not to explain myself immediately but to stare blankly for a while with a smile, which reads “yep… I’m a dickhead.”
Some readers will know of or have heard of or know someone else who once wwoofed. Not to be confused with huffing; a habit which involves strong solvents and a brown paper bag. No, wwoofing is a legit therapeutic practise, which can be indulged by any able, bodied member of the community. Just need a good hat and a good attitude. Figured it out yet?
To wwoof is to be a Willing Worker On an Organic Farm. Not for dollars but for an exchange of food and accommodation. It’s a worldwide circuit indulged in mostly by travellers and as the Australian website reads “a great way to leave the tourist trail and learn about Australia culturally”.
I first heard about wwoofing not long after settling into GC life just over two years ago. I was in a share house and in an afternoon of naïve enthusiasm I had created some giant garden beds in the backyard ready for planting. As far as I know they are still there waiting for some seeds and water.
A kind flatmate asked if I had ever wwoofed. I asked if he was flirting with me and laughed. He walked away with the “what a dickhead” look after first informing me of this lifestyle opportunity seeing I was so keen to get my hands dirty.
It wasn’t until August of this year that I finally participated in this farming activity. It all happened by accident. I had attended a meditation retreat, which was hosted in Northern NSW on a large and aesthetically pleasing plot. The owner of the property who welcomed us mentioned a need to leave and retrieve some young internationals from the GC airport in preparation for their wwoofing holiday. A splinter was nudged in my side and I thought, “I should do that.”
Unfortunately he was happily booked for months with wwoofers but I could always come back later in the year. My impulsive self knew the novelty may have lost its charm by then so I forgot about it. Maybe I’ll have a look into huffing instead.
Within 48hrs my phone was called and the lovely Pip informed me that her friend who held teaching for our meditation retreat was in need of a wwoofer in Farrants Hill. I said in my most polite and level voice, “F**k yes I will do that”. Hanging out with a monk digging holes? I’m pretty sure the spiritual push-ups don’t come any easier than this.
The following weekend I arrive for a three-night stay. I have accommodation in the back shed with kitchenette and bathroom. What is required of me I ask; “To build a path to nowhere. Which shall have you standing now here.” Damn spiritual gurus and their riddles.
The weekend is a blast and we average about 5hrs work per day. One afternoon I dug ten holes. Yep. All by myself. This was done with plenty of sun and plenty of wildlife to satisfy my green thumbs. Not to mention the awesome food and opportunity to acquaint with two new friends.
Check out wwoof.com.au for all the ‘how to get started’ info. Buy a hat and just do it. The silly season is near upon us. Take this time to get a good sweat on and earn some earthly brownie points to combat the inevitable hangovers and guilt of the summertime.