We get many requests from wwoofers to stay — as many as 20 a week, more usually about 5 a week. Obviously we can take very few of those.
The vast majority of these requests say that they want to come to us so that they can experience “the real Australia”. I guess they must be given a sample letter when they join the wwoof organisation.
Of course, we are far from “the real Australia”. We’re a couple of hippie medievalists who work in information technology, we never ever watch Home and Away or much of any TV really, and we have no clue about what’s happening in the footie this week.
Luckily for our wwoofers, our neighbour Shayne invites our wwoofers over whenever he is shearing, so they often get a good look at rural Australian life. Shayne has a broad Aussie accent, completely unintelligible to most wwoofers at first. We have a lot of really lovely neighbours, and together they do show off a real Australia that is quite wonderful.
At present, we have five wwoofers: Anna and Matt from Germany (our 3rd Matt from Germany this year…), John and Bella from Korea, and Ina from Switzerland. They are a great bunch and get on really well together.
We joke that Goulburn is stuck in the 1970s, and Parkesbourne (our nearby village) in the 1940s. On Saturday, we took the wwoofers to the annual old-time dance in Parkesbourne. Shayne and his wife Kerry are amongst the main organisers.
Last year we dragged Pat and Nicky along, and Nicky joined some of the dances. This year, all five wwoofers got enthusiastically into the dancing, and it was a wonderful night for everybody. The music was mostly war-time favourites. The supper afterwards was everything you would expect, in the 1940s.
I doubt there are many places that still have old-time dancing, let alone pack the hall. It’s nice that these traditions continue — another little piece of “real Australia” before the internet age.
In 2009, the wwoofers all have mobile phones and get calls from overseas all the time. They can talk overseas by Skype for free, and increasingly they bring their own laptops and internet dongles with them.
The western world is now rather homogenous, and wonderful in its own way. But it’s a very different place from the Australia that Allison and I grew up in.
I suppose that our local community really might be one of the best places to see “the real Australia” while it still exists.
Last week I wrote about our search for a ride-on mower. We ended up with a PoulanPRO with a 38” cut and 18hp (why aren’t we in metric for these things?). These are made in the US, and seem to be a division of Husqvarna.
It has a lovely padded seat and headlights (!!), and the hydrostatic drive that makes reversing easy. It does a great job. It cost $3000.
Next I’m going to try to get a collection bag, so we can keep the clippings for making compost with.