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Published: April 22nd 2010
Hello ! And happy Earth day :-)
It's been over three months since I landed in Australia, and you may be wondering how far I've gotten in that time... Well, prepare to be disappointed !
In those three months, I spent a total of 3 days on my bike, and covered the (not so) impressive distance of 250 kilometers !
And you'll also have noticed that I've been more or less off the radar during this time (a few photos posted on Facebook, but no blog updates...). So, what have I been up to ?
Well... I've been WWOOFing. For most of that time at least. WWOOF is a world wide organisation linking itinerant workers (ie. me) to organic farms and small properties who need a few extra pairs of hands. The setup is as follows : you do 4 hours of manual labour each day, and in exchange, you get accommodation and food. Because of the nature of these places (organic farms, small holdings, family homes), you get to meet some great people with whom you can share some of your interests, such as gardening and sustainable living for example.
Thus, back in January, after a lovely 3
week stay with my auntie Meg (my second cousin once removed, to be precise), I made my way down to Palmvale, near Murwillumbah, to meet my very first WWOOFing hosts, Neil and Kitty.
For the next 2 months, I got to know these lovely people and the various other WWOOFers also there, and spent my days out on their beautiful property planting native rainforest trees. I must say that I have great admiration for their commitment to reforest the 120 acres of their property, most of which was dairy pastures when they got there.
The beauty of the region also contributed to my desire to stop there for so long. The Northern New South Wales area boasts an amazing coastline, with Byron Bay being one of the highlights. Inland, the impressive Mount Warning made for a great biking/hiking/climbing expedition. I went one afternoon and set up camp on the very summit (don't tell anyone though !), and returned to Murwillumbah the
next morning. One of Mount Warning's claims to fame is that it receives the first rays of sunshine in Australia every morning. Sadly the famous sunrise was totally obscured from me, as the mountaintop was in the clouds for
most of the night and morning. But I did, however, get a good view over the valley and the Pacific ocean a little later on when the fog parted briefly.
When the time came for me to leave Murwillumbah and head on south, it was difficult to part with everyone. Two months had felt like a very long time to me, as I'd not stopped anywhere else for anywhere near that length of time on this trip, and as I'd very quickly felt at home in Palmvale.
I've now been staying with Alex (Meg's son, and my second cousin) near Lismore for a couple of weeks. It's been good to meet all these relatives I never knew I had ! A whole new branch of the family tree has opened up to me ! And to think that we're all descendants of the good Reverand Reginald "Bati"
Bartlett, OBE, my great grandfather, and missionary in Samoa and Papua New Guinea !
Anyway, cutting to the chase, tomorrow is when the trip really gets going. No more dilly-dallying. I'm off to Tasmania !
I've no more relatives to call upon, and I won't be doing any more WOOFing for
a while. It's time for some real bike touring. Lugging that behemoth of a bike of mine up and down those hills all day, and finding a discreet spot to camp wild every night. I'm hoping to get some real distance covered in the coming
weeks : maybe as far as Sydney within the next month, and possibly Melbourne before the end of June... but let's not get carried away yet... we'll see how it goes.
See you in a few days when I get back online to complain to you of my sore legs and the numbness of my behind !
Ciao for now, xx
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