L to R: Serge, Oliver, Emma, Stella, Gen and me
The staff at Hervey Bay Library wasnâ€™t so happy when I told them I was leaving, I had been coming in so often to use the handicap toilet and recharge my laptop that I became part of the family, so to speak. I said goodbye, jumped in Bella and Bruno showed me the way to a small place in the middle of nowhere called Brooloo, past Gympie.
After yet another enjoyable drive of 2 hours and 42 minutes I arrived in Brooloo. This is the smallest village with a fire station and a train station that Iâ€™ve ever visited, counting only 15 streets.
I rang up my host and got further directions to their farm. When I got there, half a dozen dogs of different sizes and degrees of aggressiveness greeted me. One of them gripped my ankle firmly and wouldnâ€™t let go, while I tried to reach the front door, strangely no one else seem to be aroundâ€¦ I rang up the number again and discovered that I was in the wrong farm, whoops, Brunoâ€™s fault!
At the correct address I was greeted by a lovely family, Gen & Serge, plus Oliver, Emma and little Stella. I knew I was in for a good week as soon as we got chatting. Serge is the funniest guy Iâ€™ve ever met. He never stop talking, one joke after another, but heâ€™s also very cleaver and knows a lot about computers, internet marketing and alternative energies.
He used to work in the laser industry, so we spoke the same language having both a technical background. Gen on the other hand is more artistic, she sings and plays the guitar, and has written quite a few of her own songs. She gave me her old guitar and let me re-stringing it backwards (Iâ€™m left-handed and I canâ€™t play right-handed guitars upside down like Jimi), so I thanked her showing off with my rendition of â€˜La canzone del soleâ€™ an old Italian classic by Lucio Battisti. It was terrible but Kitty like itâ€¦ sheâ€™s the house cat! They also had a set of bongos and a big Djambe, just like mine, which I left at home. Oh, it made me so happy to get hold of that drum and bash away, I played an African rhythm whilst the kids ran around shouting.
Hard at work with a proper builder's tan!
Their house was amazing, the exposed wooden beams and warm colours on the walls created a cosy and charming atmosphere.
There was a big wood burner, which they called the donkey, opposite the entrance. It was piping hot and radiated heat throughout the house. A massive water container sat on a worktop between the kitchen and the dining area. Serge explained how the water they drank came from a well, and was initially filtrated in this container, then treated through another device which added electrons to it. It was weird, but interesting and every time I drank a glass of water I felt energised :-) Serge is a man of many ideas, he constructed a system to heat up excess water from the filtration container using solar energy, and top up the hot water tank, thus reducing electricity costs. He had a lot of good ideas and many unfinished projects.
Overgrown veggie patch
My main task as a wwoofer was to finish off one of these jobs, the outside rendering of the house.
Apparently, when they bought the place, there were no walls, only wooden beams propping up the roof. So Serge did some research and came up with a novel way to seal a house. He plaster boarded the inside and fitted glass fibre insulation with a side of aluminium foil on the outside. He also coiled several lengths of pipe behind the insulation with the intention to heat up or cool down the walls of the house, by pumping hot or cold water as required. Then, he covered the insulation with the material used for making flower sacks, and sprayed the lot with a mixture of water and cement. The result is a wall of crusty pillows, which needed to be coated with cement and sand using a small flat trowel. This is a laborious task and luckily for me I only had one side of the house left to do.
Veggie patch after my visit... Me and Eli, our neighbour
Another job I got involve in was to reorganise the overgrown veggie patch and prepare it for permaculture.
Maybe I misunderstood the instruction, but I got carried away pulling weeds and ended up ripping every living organism on the patch! They should have called me Attila! I donâ€™t think Gen was very impressed so to make things better, I dug a trench from the house to the patch, fitted a pipe underground and rigged up a swanky sprinkler system connected to the water supply through a timer, so the patch could be watered automatically. This, she did like.
Gen singing one of her songs and Serge checking the audio
They took very good care of me. On Sunday we all went to a market, they had a stage set up for groups to play and Gen sang a few of her songs, whilst I looked after little Stella. I donâ€™t normally like small kids but this little cute baby was adorable, she was always smiling. Another day, Serge took me out for a canoe ride and the day after we walked a path through thick woodland.
Every night we had a lovely meal with lots of nice organic veggies and a few glasses of wine.
Kid swinging of a tree at the market
At night I had my own bus to sleep in. It was kind of scary but exciting at the same time, before bedtime I would check under the bed and all around for spiders or snakes. The bed was raised to a foot below the windows, which were all around, so I couldnâ€™t help waking up as soon as the sun was out. The blooming roasters didnâ€™t help either, there were two and in the morning I swear they were competing for attention. I would have happily given them a piece of my attentionâ€¦ in the form of a flying shovel! One night I woke up hearing some bushes move from outside, it was dark and I could just make out the shadow of a big animal standing only a few feet from my bus, I grabbed my glasses but before I could see properly what it was, the figure disappeared behind a bush.
That was quite scary! Gen and Serge reckon it was a wallaby, I reckon it could have been a big hairy sasquatch!
Me and little Stella
All things considered, my first wwoofing experience was excellent, I couldnâ€™t have picked a nicer and friendlier family. I would have happily stayed a little longer but I wanted to get back to Brisbane to get my camera fixed. The photos on this page are from a crappy disposable camera and half of them didnâ€™t come out, thatâ€™s a shame.