A bit about us:
We are a family of 3 with 2 young children. In the last few years I have dedicated my time to creating our beautiful 5 acre property called Oak & Monkey Puzzle, growing food, caring for our land, connecting with our community and facilitating gatherings we host here. I am a landscape architect, architect and university lecturer by profession but after moving to the country 6 years ago from the city I now bring together my multi-disciplinary skills and passions, focussing my time between raising my 2 children (aged 7 & 9), designing, building and caring for our property that is the centre of all aspects of life here. We enjoy being involved in our diverse, ecologically minded and creative local community, and spending some time in my part-time business.
Our productive focussed and landscape designed 5 acre property is located just outside the beautiful town of Daylesford, in Victoria, Australia. We abut the Wombat State Forest and are surrounded by incredible bushland as well as many old and special colonial trees.
We live in the original 1860s homestead from the Central Victorian Gold Rush era that we have renovated into a lovely home, where we honour the old and the new through its design.
It is surrounded by our many gardens designed by Natasha (including kitchen garden, berries garden and cut flower gardens), orchard with chickens and guinea fowl, mini market gardens, meadows, paddocks and bushland.
We always have projects and small jobs around the home that I am dreaming of or are still finishing, including starting a conservatory/greenhouse. We would love help with various building, maintenance and painting jobs as well as garden based and animal raising tasks.
We have extensive vegetable and fruit gardens. We grow berries, many different fruits and vegetables. We have bee hives on the property too that a friend looks after and are looking forward to harvesting our own honey. I would love to learn how to look after the bees myself.
We love to forage, cook, preserve, make, grow, create and build. We love sharing this special place with like-minded and warm-hearted people who value looking after the land and living with the seasons.
In the normal 'non-covid' world we run occasional creative workshops (including garden design, floristry, styling, preserving, fermenting and many more), open garden days and community minded events and thinking about what these look like in these changed times. We welcome your help with preparations for these special days but do not expect you to work for the business side of life here. You are of course welcome to contribute or ask to be involved as part of your Workaway experience if it interests you. We love learning, sharing skills and exchanging cultural experiences!
Our daily work is influenced by seasonal patterns. This means that we are doing different things at different times of the year. At the moment we are preparing for summer’s growing season now that winter has passed. We are planting cuttings and seedlings, fertilising and mulching as well as doing lots of fermenting and making citrus syrups. We are also embarking on designing and building a new greenhouse type living space and are looking to build a thermal mass rocket heater as part of the space (this is something we have never done before!). There’s also lots of maintenance jobs as the weather gets warmer.
My children are both in primary school and enjoy sharing our property with you during our stay. My daughter (aged 9) has a great love for her feathered friends including her cockatiel, 9 chickens and 9 guinea fowl, as well as her creative pursuits. She is happy and friendly and always happy to teach you about the property and the seasons here. She is always the first in the family to find the wild pine mushrooms on our property with her keen eye. My son (aged 7) is a knowledgeable helper in the garden. He works hard and is proud of his contributions and accomplishments. He enjoys building and working with hand tools. He loves learning and would love to find out about the interests and skills you might have.
Our family is not religious. We are open minded, respectful and eco-conscious.
Our daily and weekly routine involves a constantly change list of things that is often guided by the seasons, resources available and off-farm commitments. No two weeks or days are ever the same. Sometimes this includes: foraging, preserving, making yogurt and fermented foods, tending to our garden in all ways, including gardening, watering, harvesting, collecting firewood and much more. We often have various building projects around our home including carpentry, painting, sanding, landscaping, installing irrigation and planting beds.
The morning starts with getting the children ready for school and making breakfast before the children start school at 9am in Daylesford, 15 minutes drive away (where there are cafes, shops, pharmacy and a supermarket). Some mornings you are welcome to come into Daylesford with us for the school drop-off in case you need to get anything. At other times there will be jobs to complete at the property starting from 9am.
You will be expected to help tidy up after breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, washing dishes, sweeping floors and getting ready for the day's activities.
As a general rule, the day starts Monday – Friday at 9am and finishes at 3:00pm with a one hour lunch at midday and a short break. We ask that you be awake by 8am and ready to start on the days activities at 9am.
You will be free from 3:00 - 5:30 and from 7:30pm onwards.
We will make dinner together at about 5:30-6pm. This is additional to your 5 hours per day Workaway work contribution expectation.
We need active people with a zest for life, motivated and willing to take initiative. We ask that you take care and diligence in understanding and following instructions. Should you have any questions or clarifications we welcome them fully.
We are mostly vegetarian, this means most of our meals do not include meat. We have 2-3 meals per week that include meet. Unfortunately it's too hard to accommodate vegans so we ask that you be prepared to adjust to vegetarian if need be. Sorry!
We are on tank water so during your stay we ask that you be mindful in your use of water, have short showers and if possible only every second day.
We try to limit our reliance on electricity consumption for daylight hours when we can draw off our solar electricity, as we do not have solar batteries. We try to only use dishwashers, washing machines and other electrical devices during daylight and sunny times.
We love sharing this special place we have created with friends and Workaways. We love teaching, learning, sharing experiences and forming new friendships.
We look forward to hearing from you!
DIY and building projects
Babysitting and creative play
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
We appreciate the varied skills you bring with you and would love to know about them and have you share them with us.
We will teach you all you need to know to undertake your Workaday experience and need only your enthusiasm, positive attitude, open mindedness, care, diligence and a dedicated volunteer work ethic.
Please let us know what skills you are interested in that relate to life here on our property and we will happily teach you skills including in gardening, growing food and flowers, foraging, preserving, garden design and so much more.
We are strongly connected within the community of Daylesford, its producers, artisans, makers and ecological practitioners and can let you know of community activities you may be interested in, of which there are many!
We need help gardening, growing food, mowing, planting, weeding, transplanting, pruning, watering and generally helping maintain our beautiful 5 acre property with its productive flower and food gardens.
We need help with painting, maintenance jobs, building including garden structures and a proposed conservatory/greenhouse.
We need help collecting firewood and gathering sticks for the colder months.
We need help making preserves, fermenting, foraging, harvesting, making yogurt.
In spring, summer and autumn we are very busy tending our food, flower and productive gardens.
In late autumn we are busy harvesting from our food gardens and preserving for the less abundant months. We also look for edible berries and mushrooms in the nearby forests and need help harvesting.
We currently have the guest room upstairs in our home which has 2 single beds and overlooks our beautiful garden. It is accessible from a narrow stairs to a beautiful heritage attic guest bedroom. (We are currently working on a mezzanine space in our lovely workshop space also).
We live in Victoria, Australia, which is known for having four seasons in one day. Our property, located in Spargo Creek, is a very particular microclimate that is different to the surrounding areas, often much cooler throughout the year, including frequent heavy frost and occasional snow in winter and spring. Night time temperatures can drop to 0C from May to December. Not all parts of Australia are hot.
We only heat our home to 18C during winter. We rarely light the fires during the rest of the year so please bring good clothes, including clothes that can be layered and that can be put on or taken off when working to adjust to the temperature. We ask that you bring closed shoes that are appropriate for working, foraging and building. A warm woolen jumper, woolen hat/beanie and good woolen socks is a must. For summer (roughly December to March), please bring a light coloured cotton/linen shirt with long sleeves and a broad rimmed hat to protect you from the sun. The Australian sun can be very damaging (not just in summer).
A bit about the region we live in:
We live just near the very vibrant and creative community of Daylesford. There are many artisans, makers, food producers, farmers and sustainability practitioners.
Our property is located in the tiny hamlet of Spargo Creek, a cluster of farms and homes 16kms (15 minutes away by car) from the beautiful and very popular gold rush era town of Daylesford. On your days off you can visit Daylesford cafes, galleries, Daylesford Convent, Museum, the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens and on Thursday mornings the Friends of Wombat Hill.
There are walking tracks around Daylesford Lake, and along creeks and rivers. In late autumn/winter there are wild mushrooms to be found our property and in the pine forests and surrounds. You can volunteer to take part in our community garden working bees, or attend the local library or other local and informative events, which are often free. There are day spas including the Hepburn Bath House. There is often live music at a selection of small venues.
I drive into Daylesford most days (everyday during school term), and you are welcome to come into Daylesford with me on those days.
The closest railway station is approximately 15 minutes drive away at Ballan Railway Station where we can pick you up (our preferred train station). Alternatively, you can take a train to Ballarat and we’ll pick you up from there. Ballarat is a large regional city very well serviced with shops, libraries, an Art Gallery, sports and recreational facilities.
From Ballan or Ballarat you can take a train to/from Melbourne - a comfortable journey that takes between 1 to 1 1/4hrs. We encourage you to explore the local area and spend time in Melbourne – day trips, overnights and/or weekends.
We have a strong ethical and sustainable food culture here in the region. Once a month the Culture Club hosts free fermenting workshops. There are also free monthly herbalist and natural bee keeping workshops through Relocalise Hepburn.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Whilst we don’t have huge data allowances here given our rural location we do have a stable wifi connection.
This host can provide space for campervans.
5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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