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Important Update for Summer 2021: After surviving bushfires more-or-less intact we have since been hit with three major things: The Coronavirus Crisis AND Donrita's Mum dying of cancer AND the suddenly increasing frailty of Donrita's newly widowed Dad after that. With the fragile condition of Donrita's father, turned 93 in June, Donrita cared for him and began a diploma of dementia care online. Donrita's father recently died too, and she is now in the process of settling her parents' estate. We therefore would warmly welcome anyone who can "keep things going" on the farm for a while, until Donrita catches her breath after the past 12 months. We certainly welcome enquiries, but would prefer any new folks to stay for 4 weeks minimum, to give them a chance to learn the routines and operate with initiative.
Peter & Donrita.
Heya! We love visitors and guests and life on the farm here is such a satisfying experience :)
We're a family moved down to the Victorian country to build a retreat and permaculture farm. Everything about this area seemed to good to be true, but it just keeps getting better!
Peter (63): Farmer, Project Manager, Handyman, etc, etc, but now usually at his "other" job.
Donrita (61): Teacher, Choir conductor, Bnb manager, Pilgrimage Saleswoman and currently trying to build a new business, assisting seniors with their travels...Donrita is the one who is home the most and would also love some help with building a new website.
(now mostly absent:) Nick (33): Musician, couchsurfer, wine rep, but now mostly a travelling minstrel who is only occasionally "home" was the inspiration to move here from Sydney and also set up our initial workawayers account.
Donrita's elderly father lives on the farm with us, in his own cottage, and he LOVES getting visitors. He sometimes needs a bit of assistance, especially since the recent death of his wife, Kitty.
Music has a big role at our place, with Nick & Donrita both involved in music, but of late the local music has taken a back seat with Donrita spending most of her time developing the new business and working two days a week from home for a pilgrimage company.
We can accept families, but the whole family would need to fit in the caravan. It has a double bed and two benches that can each sleep one person in a sleeping bag. When we have a LOT of workawayers at the same time, we can host them in our "shearing shed man cave" or "shearing shed studio" which seems to have suited past folks well enough.
We are now mostly in maintenance mode, though of course there are always many things to do (such as making a small hot-house in part of the vegie garden and completing the second bird netting structure over it, and... and... The list is LONG!). Making matters a bit more complex, now that Peter has finished building the BnB cottage he has recently had some work OFF the farm to earn some extra money and is hunting for the next paid job, so that means Donrita will be spending the most time with workawayers. That said, there is always a lot to do in the veggie garden and orchard, and with that comes a significant task of EATING the fruit and veggies that grow! As well as lots of preserving once we get too much. And Donrita would currently REALLY appreciate the extra help (and company).
Which reminds us: If you are coming on your own (ie not a couple or similar) then it is quite possible that you may be the only Workawayer here, which may mean doing some of the long and boring tasks (de-heading African Lovegrass and digging out the remaining tufts) on your own. If this is a concern for you then make sure you check first if there is likely to be others. Note that we can't guarantee that the "others" will turn up, as we have found that at times Workawayers plans change with short notice.
Our "work day" starts at 8am (after breakfast is had). We have found from experience that this works well, as it enables most workers to be finished by 1:30pm (allowing for a 30 minute rest for morning tea) and then they have the whole afternoon to themselves to relax, enjoy the serenity of our surroundings and do whatever personal stuff they need/wish to do. You will have free access to WiFi while here. We love working with energetic folks who are not afraid of a bit of focused and sincere work and who can also be left to work independently and apply a sense of initiative, once our systems and protocols have been explained. If you don't fully understand something, please ask and we will be happy to explain again patiently. We will not be constantly looking over your shoulder and we hope that you will not be "clock-watching" or combining mobile phone use with work.
Daily workawayer tasks include walking "Spring", our lovely border collie (twice a day); releasing/feeding the chickens and ducks in the morning and putting them to bed at night; watering the veggie garden and plants on the deck; a variety of weeding tasks; making jam when it's fruit season. Add to this various tasks as they arise. Sundays are "day off" as well as one other day which can be mutually negotiated. Most of our workawayers are also happy to perform the dog and birds tasks on their days off as this takes very little time and enables us to focus on other tasks (although if this is a problem please tell us in advance). Some "sporty" folks like to take Spring for an extended walk/run in their own time, which you're also welcome to do if this interests you - please note however that this would not be part of the "work time" if this is your choice.
Mealtimes are a special and fun part of our cultural exchange and not part of the daily work. Rather than each person cooking separately, we invite you to take turns with us in turning what we grow into creative and tasty experiences. We cook for you and you cook for us!
We have a passion for living sustainably and putting healthy things into our bodies (no smokers, please). We recognise that we have a long way to go. But are keen to share our journey and the things we have learned so that others can take some aspects of all that with them to help ease the impact we have on our planet. Come and share with us, teach us, learn from us. But also come and have some fun!
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
You will learn about life in rural Australia and in particular our efforts at living a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We "initiate" each workawayer by setting you before a series of videos which explain sustainable living and farming practices which we admire, as well as studying Nick's "Permaculture Project".
You will learn to work hard and relax serenely and live simply. We have a wonderful East Gippsland Rail Trail and can provide push bikes for you in your spare time to explore this. There are also a number of local wineries, water sports on the lakes and a surf beach at Lakes Entrance for you to visit and enjoy.
We also love introducing our workers to Toastmasters as we are members of the local TM club and frequently have brought our visitors along to see what TM is all about.
Peter also loves sharing his growing interest in wood turning (has just bought an upgraded lathe with associated tools) and some of our W/A'ers leave with something they've turned themselves of wood from our place.
Each of us are working on many different projects (Permaculture, servicing the B&B facilities, music shows, choirs, business development and promotion). We need help with a number of mostly routine tasks so that we can focus on some of our projects/paid work.
The sorts of things we need help with are:
Walking the dog, feeding and tending to chickens and ducks
Maintaining fences & other farm things
Mostly gardening (planting, weeding, watering, planting, seed-raising)
Extending aspects of our permaculture-based vegie garden and orchard, including constructing a hothouse and bird netting in part of the vegie garden.
Occasional help with computer related things and taking some nice photos & videos of our place.
And when the fruit is ready/produce from the garden is ripe, then we do a lot of preserving, making jams and chutneys that you can help make, with naturally a LOT of tasting to be done as part of this! The goal is to preserve enough to last us through the less productive times, but we generally end up with enough to pass on a couple of jars to friends & neighbours, AND to Workawayers who might need a bit of sustenance on their journey to the next gig!
If you like cooking, you're welcome to help out in that department too. Donrita likes to cook, but we like to try something different too...let's share huh?
Previous workawayers have helped us develop a checklist of things you need to know - we will provide you with this upon your arrival or, better still, if you send us your email address we will send you a soft copy to read before you arrive.
We are very open to finding the workawayer who so enjoys being with us that you will want to stay long-term (this happens occasionally) and we always love to find folks who will like to stay from before until after Christmas to help keep things going when we visit family in Sydney.
This host offers a language exchange
This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
You can contact them directly for more information.
Caravan next to the house, as well as various beds and a sofa bed in the music studio and man-cave.
You can use our bathroom though and will join our family living in our home.
We are 15 min from Bairnsdale Town.
Bairnsdale has trains and buses
Bairnsdale is 3.5 hours East of Melbourne by train (last stop on the line)
Buses depart to Lakes Entrance from Bairnsdale.
If we're heading to town, you're welcome to join us and we can also provide push bikes if you like to ride and are energetic.
Let us know if you'd like a lift in advance and we'll see if something can be arranged.
If you have your own car, all the better for you!
Music - there is a surprising amount of music around here. Fairly good quality too! Some restaurants have music, Paynesville wine-bar is always having a variety of well-known artists perform (it's great there!), Bullant Brewery (Bruthen) has beer tastings and live music, Many pubs and hotels have music of course (pub rock), Lakes Entrance has great shows and fireworks at NYE
Wine - There are a few wineries around that do tastings
Sport - fishing, some people go hunting deer (they're pests here), cycling - we can drop you off to cycle a part of the 100km Rail Trail and pick you up again where you leave off (we provide bicycles); you can hire boats and borrow our canoe and/or kayak or you can go surfing at Lakes Entrance.
Nature - Den of Nargun (Aboriginal Waterhole), Macleods Morass (extensive wetlands), The Amphitheatre/Billy Goat Bend (Fabulous lookout)...
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have plenty of work spaces. You can work privately in your own caravan space; you can sit on the deck when the weather is good; you can sit at the kitchen bench or dining table (but would need to clear the space at meal times); or you can use a stable table and work from your lap in front of our fire (as I do!)
We live on a farm, so space is no problem. We have limited power access however - probably only two caravans could access that. If you have your own solar power or don't need any, we also have a "cottage paddock" where you could have your own grassy space to move around more!
More than two
5 hrs/day 5 days a week, ready to start daily by 8am.
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