The Australia Chronicles : Woofing in Wooli

After Melbourne we took a Firefly coach to Sydney. We spent two days there and I honestly have nothing to write about it at the moment because when we were there one of the biggest storms to hit Eastern Australia in years was in full swing and it didn’t stop hammering it down with rain the entire time we were there. ( I have since been back to Sydney and so will write about it later)

While in Sydney we got offered the chance via Gumtree to go woofing (working in exchange for accommodation instead of a wage) at the Solitary Islands Resort in a place called Wooli in New South Wales. A tiny little place with the sea on one side and a river on the other. In other words paradise!

We were told that for four hours work a day we would get free accommodation, free food, free alcohol, free wifi, use of a car, use of all the resort facilities including swimming pool, canoes and bikes.

We hopped on a train to Grafton and waited to be picked up by the guy who manages all the backpackers for the resort.

We had been waiting about 40minutes when this pick up truck pulls up beside us and an Aussie bloke says “are you the two Pom backpackers waiting for me?”

This bloke is Dave “The Cat” so called because he has nine lives apparently. This man was crushed between two lorries, broke his back and was told he would never walk again, he eventually had some groundbreaking new surgery that fixed the issue and how he has no problems with it. He had skin cancer and was told he only had 6 months to live only to be put on a drug trial and now be pretty much clear of cancer two years later. He was also once bitten by a shark! He showed us the scars on his leg.

Anyway Dave drove us the 40 minutes to Wooli, along dark country roads, at one point we saw lots of wild horses crossing the road to get away from flood water.

We arrived at the resort quite late at night, I have never seen a sky so clear and so full of stars it was awe inspiring . Dave gave us a quick tour of the site in his truck then took us to our beach hut to settle in the night.

We woke up the next day to the sounds of parrots in the trees and beautiful clear blue sky’s, a massive change to our last few days in a grey wet Sydney. We also met the other guys woofing there. There was Brad, an Aussie guy who works there to be closer to his son, and there were the two Germans, Jonas and Sebastian.

We were meant to start our “job” of painting a cabin that day but after seeing the state of the camp kitchen that we were meant to be using we decided to spend the day cleaning and organising that. It was a mammoth job that took about four hours but everyone was very pleased with our work. Jonas even said he would be happy to cook in it now.

We wanted to take a trip into Wooli itself so Brad offered to drive us down there. He acted as our tour guide and did a very bad job of it mainly because my friend Louise is very inquisitive, nosey and asks as many questions as a 5 year old, Brad got quite exasperated by this as he couldn’t answer most of her questions. We got to see the waterfall that had been created because of all the rain from the storm and the beautiful Wooli beach.

Eventually we headed back to the resort so we could make dinner for everyone. I say we, I chopped the veg and Louise cooked it all. We had Lamb chops that were more bone and gristle than meat and what I like to call “British style” veg meaning they were all terribly over cooked, not good.
A new girl, Rachael from York joined us that night so 7 of us and Coco (the restore owners parrot) all sat down to eat and drink. Coco ate most of the roast potatoes.

The three boys and Rachael carried on drinking when we headed back to chill in the beach hut for a while, Louise found lots of ants in her bed. We sprayed some bug spray and went back to join the other for a few drinks.
On our return to the beach hut there were even bigger ants in her bed! Now for a normal person that wouldn’t be that big a problem but for her it was. She has a massive phobia of bugs (I know, Australia was the wrong country to go to!) When I say massive phobia I mean it, she basically had a panic attack which included her slapping and scratching herself. It was pretty scary to watch and to try and calm her down. Eventually she got into the top bunk but couldn’t sleep, we stayed up talking and that’s when she decided that she wanted to go home, when we hadn’t even been in Australia 2 weeks! I think if she could of gotten on a plane to the U.K. then and there she would of. I told her to try and sleep on it and not make any rash decisions.

In the morning she had made up her mind, she wanted out of Wooli and out of Australia.

We went to find Dave to explain the situation, in tears she told him that she just can not stay another night here, thankfully he was sound with us, offering us a lift to the coach station and saying if we ever want to come back we can.

For one day and two nights I got to stay in paradise, experiencing the Australia I really want to see. Not the busy places that every backpacker goes to, I wanted to see off the beaten track places, the real Australia. Little did I know how true that wish was about to become.

The Australia Chronicles : Melbourne

On Melbourne summer mornings the green trams go rolling in stately progress down tunnels thick with leaves: the bright air carries along the avenue their patient chime, the chattering of their wheels” – Helen Garner

My first sight of Melbourne was from the plane as we were flying in to land and I knew it was love at first sight.

After leaving London at 10:35pm on the 25th of May and arriving, Via China, at 8:40am on the 27th of May 2016 (A total of 25 hours and 11215 miles) I think any sight that was not the inside of a plane was very welcomed but my initial thoughts on seeing Melbourne from the sky were very true and after visiting it again a year and a half later with my mum, it will always be one of my favourite cities in the world.

We stayed just on the edge of the city in a suburb called St Kilda formally known for prostitutes and druggies, it is now THE place for backpackers to stay, due to its transport links to the city and plenty of hip bars. We stayed in a hostel on Fitzroy street called The Ritz for backpackers, at first we were a bit overwhelmed and wary of the hostel and its inhabitants. We were both brand new to the whole backpacking thing and I was very anxious about everything. But looking back now it was definitely one of the better hostels we have stayed it even if the bar downstairs was very loud on the weekends. The fact that there was a tram stop right out was a huge bonus for getting around the city.

We were there for a week and definitely managed to cram a lot in.

On the first night thanks to a tip from my friend Angsty (a friend from the UK who lived in St Kilda for a while, You will here about him again because I ended up living with him in Christchurch, NZ.)

We went for a walk along St Kilda pier and saw the Penguins that live there. We arrived at dusk and found a spot on the deck away from other people, the air was filled with anticipation and the hidden Penguins calling to each other. Then suddenly one penguin takes the first brave step out from between the rocks right next to where we are standing. It is eventually joined by many more scattered amongst the rocks.

St Kilda is full of independent coffee shops, bar and resturants, it has a great little market on the esplanade on a Sunday, trees filled with bright coloured parrots and of course it has the historical amusement park with the creepy face on the entrance, Luna Park.

We spent one day wondering around the massive Queen Victoria Markets, a must see for anyone who likes shopping whether it’s for clothes, souvenirs or food. We invested in some warmer clothes because Melbourne is bloody freezing in June! We ate one of the best chocolate filled donuts I have ever had and sampled some warm sugar coated macadamias from a lovely stall holder who talked to us about Britain’s Got Talent.

Melbourne Zoo was another great day out. We got lost getting the tram there but that was all part of the adventure and it meant we got to see parts of the city we would never normally see. The orangutan a were my favourite animal there mainly because we could get so close, just a piece of glass separated us from three of these beautiful and playful creatures.

Another great thing to see/do is go for a walk around the botanical gardens then go up the Shrine Of Remembrance. As well as being a place to reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers it has a fantastic view over the city.

Melbourne is famous for its street art. Hosier Lane is the most famous place to see street art but I was also amazed by how you can just be walking through the city, look down an unassuming alley way in the business district and be faced with an incredible piece of art work. Below is a very small sample of my favourites.

Being the first city I landed in after embarking on this adventure, Melbourne will always have a special place in my heart, the fact that it is also just an awesome place to visit helps too.

After spending a week in Melbourne we then headed to Sydney….