More Wwoofing, welcome to Rantan!

Coramba Travel Blog

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Welcome to Rantan

I hate saying goodbye!  Normally I say ‘arrivederci’ in Italian, which means ‘we’ll meet again,’ but it’s a sad true fact, and all backpackers know it, that you will most probably never see again those people you meet travelling.  Having said that, the wonders of the internet have provided us with many sites to keep in touch and a new phrase is rapidly replacing the tearful salutation, see you on Facebook!

I left Lars and Else with a promise to keep in touch, on Facebook of course, and I shot off to my next adventure in Coramba.  Needless to say, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and Bella was cursing with the wind.  At one point, I overtook a huge truck and held my breath waiting to hear the loud blast caused by breaking the sound barrier, or maybe the exhaust falling off!

 

I reached Coramba, then followed Stephan’s directions to the farm house.

Morning view from my bedroom
  I drove on a long winding dirt road through a forest, past an elaborate wooden construction and up a hill.  I was exited to meet the sculptor I had read about in my wwoof book and when I reached the house, there he was, standing proud at the entrance of his castle.  He shook my hand and said with a foreign accent ‘so what’s your story Roberto?’  I loved that introduction, I felt like replying with a profound statement such as ‘I’m living my dreams’ or ‘I’m on a mystical journey in search of my soul,’ but I couldn’t possibly come out with something that cheesy so instead I regurgitated the usual boring monolog describing my trip.  He showed me around, first his workshop, full of every possible and imaginable tool, then the studio, with many of his kinetic sculptures, and finally we walked around the house he built with his wife Margaret.  I was totally hooked!  I have never before felt such a strong connection with anyone in such a small space of time, in a strange way it was like talking to an older version of me!  I will always remember his words when I went out to get my backpack, he said ‘Roberto, I have a good feeling, you are welcome’.
Tina (austrian wwoofer) 'pushing a 300kg tank'
 

 

I was only going to stay one week but I ended up staying three because I had such a good time.  In fact, I could stretch this statement and say that I’ve had the best three weeks of my trip so far.

 

During my stay, I was involved in various projects.  The first few days, me, Stephan and Tina (an Austrian wwoofer) shifted a 300 kg water tank in position and finished connecting the down pipes for rain water collection, completing the build of a stable house for four horses.

Stephan securing the tank on a wooden subframe
  Tina is a great worker!  She does what she’s told to do and she’s not afraid of getting her hands dirty; she has a great bum too :-)  We had a very comical moment when fixing the drains.  She was holding a 6 metres pipe between her legs whilst trying to push fit an elbow join at one end.  The pipe was slipping back so she asked me to hold it for her.  Now picture this scene:  I’m kneeling down, staring at Tina’s bum while I’m holding this long length of pipe which ends between her legs, and I’m shouting ‘is it in yet?’ to which she replies in her German accent ‘NO! Push harder!’  That would have made a great photo.

 

I enjoyed Tina’s company, she’s a good laugh.

Moving the tank in place
  On Tuesday night we got a lift into Coffs Harbour with Marg and Steph, who went to see a ballet performance.  Tina and I hit the pubs, and we discovered to have a common love for beer.  It was a funny night, I’m not sure if Marg and Steph realises how pissed we were when they picked us up, well I guess they know now!  She left on Thursday for another wwoofing experience, but I hope we keep in touch, on Facebook…   

 

With the stables almost completed, me and Stephan tackled the next big project of building an arena, so Alexandra, or Lec as mum and dad like to call her, could start teaching kid how to ride a horse.

  This was a big job, we had 34 heavy posts to fit in place.  We dug out deep holes and positioned the posts with a chain tied to the fork of the tractor, then we had to fill around the post with earth and stones, compacting the soil with a heavy crowbar.  Marg said that the trick is to lift the bar and let it drop under gravity, but Steph had a different thecnique.  He was brutally ramming those stones as if he were impaling vampires!  We were sweating like pigs under the baking sun, it was bloody heard work.  To complete the job, we laid two strips of white plastic fence all around the arena, and fitted slanted posts to support the corner uprights.  I think it took us 4-5 days to complete, and it was very satisfying to see it through.  Also, I got to drive the tractor!!

 

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Stephan during the days, he’s a man of many stories and has a great sense of humour.

  The best part of everyday though was dinner.  Margaret’s cooking was simply fantastic, I don’t know how she found the energy to cook those great meals after a hard day’s work, and in three weeks she didn’t repeat one single recipe!  Energy is definitely the key word in this family, and Lec proves me right by juggling a part time job, full time studies, looking after her tutor’s horses and training hers daily for dressage competitions.  Sometimes she would get up at 3 in the morning to finish off a uni project, such commitment and dedication and she’s only 20 years old.  It must be something in the water they drink, because even I had the energy to drag my carcass out of bed every morning to start work at 9… hey now, that’s really early for me!      

 

Some of the other wwoofing duties involved splitting wood logs with the hydraulic splitter of the tractor; sweeping the roofs after a heavy storm; fit a star picket fence and remove an old one with the tractor; and my all time favourite, shovelling horse poo in the back of the trailer.

Job done!
You should have seen the steam coming out of that pile of crap, apparently you can cook a chicken under that heat, but you might want to wrap it up in foil first.

 

In my spare time, I enjoyed long walks along the creek at the bottom of the farm; fishing in Coffs Harbour; exploring a gold mine with Marcus, a german wwoofer who joined Rantan a few days before my departure; reading parts of some interesting books suggested by Stephan; playing those few songs I know on the piano;  catching up with my blog; and even had time to design and make a Macademia nut cracker in Stephan’s wood workshop, which was nice to look at but as useful as a rubber crowbar!   

 

The time spent at Rantan showed me a very different lifestyle to what I have been used to.

Tina, splashing around
  Back in Wales, I would go to work and come home at 6ish tired and tense.  To relax I would cook a fat comfort meal and drink a few glasses of wine, then watch tv till late night.  Everyday was pretty much the same, and weekends were spent catching up jobs for a few houses I was renting out.  I can’t complain because financially I was doing well, but socially and emotionally I wasn’t content, so I bought my RTW ticket to have a break.  At least a third of the travellers I meet have a similar story, and we have all turned to Australia like a medical prescription.  I wasn’t sure this would work but now that I have seen more that the usual tourist sites, backpackers hostels and costal towns I am really enjoy my journey and I am starting to see the perfect picture for my frame.  Now I recommend wwoffing to everyone I meet, but please don’t you all be knocking on Steph and Marg’s castle, or they’ll get pissed off with me and I’ll have to remove this blog!

 

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Welcome to Rantan
Welcome to Rantan
Morning view from my bedroom
Morning view from my bedroom
Tina (austrian wwoofer) pushing a…
Tina (austrian wwoofer) 'pushing …
Stephan securing the tank on a woo…
Stephan securing the tank on a wo…
Moving the tank in place
Moving the tank in place
Job done!
Job done!
Tina, splashing around
Tina, splashing around
Stables, which Steph built
Stables, which Steph built
Wild life, ok just a mouse
Wild life, ok just a mouse
Moving a few fallen tree logs
Moving a few fallen tree logs
Tina, Lizzy and half my head
Tina, Lizzy and half my head
My poor fishing catch
My poor fishing catch
Fish caught by the owner of the fi…
Fish caught by the owner of the f…
Lizzy and Steph.  Moving logs to c…
Lizzy and Steph. Moving logs to …
Space for the Arena
Space for the Arena
Digging holes for the upright posts
Digging holes for the upright posts
Im driving the tractor!!
I'm driving the tractor!!
Stan with his mighty post-hammer
Stan with his mighty post-hammer
Lec, creating artistic photos
Lec, creating artistic photos
Steph cutting holes for post stands
Steph cutting holes for post stands
One side of the arena finished
One side of the arena finished
Lovely old plow
Lovely old plow
Steph on the plow
Steph on the plow
Glenys, our neighbours farm
Glenys, our neighbour's farm
the biggest spider I have seen so …
the biggest spider I have seen so…
Note, it has 7 legs?!
Note, it has 7 legs?!
Gold mine at the bottom of the far…
Gold mine at the bottom of the fa…
Old Italian proper coffee maker
Old Italian 'proper' coffee maker
Me on Stephs posty bike
Me on Steph's posty bike
A bull ant - these buggers sting l…
A bull ant - these buggers sting …
Lizzy and Tipsy
Lizzy and Tipsy
Chopping wood with an hydraulic sp…
Chopping wood with an hydraulic s…
Chillies!
Chillies!
A millepiedi
A millepiedi
Farm from the roof of the workshop
Farm from the roof of the workshop
The arena finished
The arena finished
Steph and his pasta machine
Steph and his pasta machine
Steph and Marcus (German wwoofer) …
Steph and Marcus (German wwoofer)…
L to R: Marg, Lec, Marcus, me and …
L to R: Marg, Lec, Marcus, me and…
Jet, one of Lecs horses
Jet, one of Lec's horses
Marcus, Glenys and Stephan
Marcus, Glenys and Stephan
Me and Marcus adventure in the gol…
Me and Marcus adventure in the go…
One ugly bat!
One ugly bat!
His brother
His brother
This is the greatest photo ever!  …
This is the greatest photo ever! …
Another good shot.
Another good shot.
I dont know the owner but I love …
I don't know the owner but I love…
Coramba
photo by: Rubbertoe