Wingham Travel Blog› entry 29 of 42 › view all entries
When we were in America, we did all the usual tourist things, stopped at pretty much every city and in some ways were just on a huge holiday, albeit on the cheap! In Australia however we wanted to see some REAL people, rather than just the drunken idiots hanging around the hostels (and there do seem to be MORE drunken idiots hanging around Aussie hostels).
So when we were still in England we signed up for HelpX, where people who have work they need doing put up a listing, and people who want to travel in a cheaper way find hosts.
I was insanely nervous about this first meeting, neither of us knew what to expect at all, but it was also Jen's first time hosting people which was quite nice. She met us from the station and took us out for a pub lunch which was a good start! During the meal we all relaxed abit and Jen told us a bit about herself. We immediately warmed to her irreverant sense of humour which she later told us was a way of gauging what kind of people we were!
After the meal we drove to her house, 12km from Wingham centre in a small place called Burrell Creek, so small that all it has is a community hall not even a shop! We turned towards a gate and proceeded to drive 500m up a bumpy drive through 'the bush', until we got to her house at the end.
We also went for a walk round the property, Jen pointing out native plants, and warning us about which snakes and spiders to avoid (ummm, ALL of them?!?) At one point the birds were making an awful racket which Jen described as the 'shit there's a snake' call, suddenly there was a huge hissing noise and a 4foot goanna shot up a tree about 10 feet in front of us.
Jen used to live in Mudgee and was the 7th female winemaker in Australia with her winery Mudgee wines. When she moved to Wingham, she also moved 1400 bottles of her wine, many of which have no labels as 'the termites ate them'. So here began our introduction to wines as we sampled her collection, including several outstanding 30 year old reds, that shows that you don't need chemical preservatives! Wow, we really were spoiled, every night we got to try a different bottle of wine (sometimes 2!) and were told about what made it taste the way it did.
As we were making dinner each night the local birds dropped by to see if there were any scraps going begging. We were very amused on our first night to see Jen produce a bag of 'roo mince' to feed to them! There were several butcher birds who we became great friends with, they even flew into our flat each day to see if we have left any snacks around, and would fly and take food right out of your hand! In fact he (Bob the butcher bird) developed a slightly more annoying habit of flying into Jen's flat and stealing cat food each day.
We generally worked 8-12 in the morning, then relaxed in the afternoon. Despite being hard work, it was (almost) always fun to do, as we laughed and joked while we worked. A lot of the work involved pruning things which had taken over, lantana trees to pull out and crucifix orchids to remove. In fact removing the orchids turned out to be abit of a never ending task as their roots completely covered the ground like a carpet. One of the great things about visiting Jen was seeing all the things she had done herself to the property, and we were completely inspired by her self engineered bridges! One of the days we suggested building a ramp up to the front deck as there was only a couple of planks.
Jen was keen to show us the local area which was great not only because we didn't have to work on these days! The (mighty) river Manning winds its way around from the coast and can be seen from many viewpoints. The views were absolutely stunning, we were most amazed by the colour of the river, it was such a vivid blue and just looked, well, clean! I guess we are not used to seeing such clean looking rivers in the UK!
We had said that we were interested in going to the Koala Hospital in Port MacQuarie so Jen organised for us to go.
The Koala hospital was a small place, not set up as a tourist attraction, but it did a walk round at 3pm each day. Volunteers run the whole place, and we got to watch as the gorgeous koalas get their daily dose of vitamin juice to supplement the eucalyptus leaves.
A fantastic Aussie day, especially as we stopped off in the way home for a quick beer!!
Our final trip was slightly controversial in regards to Lisa, but we went fishing! Our host, fisherman Peter was an interesting character, a man of few words, at times we wished even fewer..... We started out by trawling the weeds for bait, I don't really know what we were looking for but we didn't find it.
We had a fabulous time in Wingham and with Jen, we were so spoiled with the food, wine and of course company and we were quite sad to leave!