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WWOOF-ing IN KURANDA AUSTRALIA

tropical Kuranda Australia

tropical Kuranda- Australia

WWOOF-ing IN KURANDA AUSTRALIA

Kuranda is a small trendy town/tourist village situated up on Australia’s Atherton Tablelands, just west of Cairns. It’s set in a stunning rain forest beside the fast flowing Barron River.

Kuranda is one of the main tourist attractions in the Cairns area, due to the magnificent Barron Falls, Barron River cruises, cable car and old-fashioned red railroad. Kuranda also has many cute boutiques, aborigional art galleries, cafes and the locally-famous Kuranda markets.

Keila- Kuranda Markets

Keila at Henri’s gallery in Kuranda Markets

My WWOOF gig took place at the home of a charming older couple, Henri-French artist, and Keila-Canadian occupational therapist. Both were really delightful: fun, energetic, humorous, and educated. They had travelled the world together and finally settled down in Kuranda. Henri sold his paintings and prints at Kuranda Markets.

They lived in a spacious high-ceilinged artsy house with a large deck overlooking the garden/lawn. The property was filled with lemon, mango, and passion fruit trees and surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. Henri and Keila had been slowly renovating the house for 10 years, so it was a work-in-progress.

They gave me my own large bedroom with a big double bed, which was a real luxury as a budget traveller. Both Henri and Keila were great cooks, so we were treated to daily feasts and a pleathora of tasty desserts.

Kuranda railroad

famous, scenic Kuranda railroad

My WWOOF tasks included gardening, mowing the lawn, re-potting plants, cooking, baking and helping with the on-going house re-modeling.

I was shocked to discover that I actually knew how to repot plants and bake pies. Me? Miss Lash Adventurer? Yes, it’s true- my ‘normal’ small-town American roots have left me with some useful household skills. Thanks mom! Apparently what you learn in childhood sticks with you forever.

I put in 4 hours work per day, 5 days a week, in exchange for a private room in a stunning house plus gourmet meals. The rest of my time I spent drinking cappucinos (they had an espresso maker-yeah!), writing in my journal, cycling, walking their dog along the river or through the rain forest, visiting Henri at the markets, and exploring Kuranda. I more or less had weekends off.

Pascal and I at coffee plantation- Australia

Pascal and I with coffee plantation owner on Atherton Tablelands

Another WWOOFer was also living in the house, a Swiss guy named Pascal.  He’d been there 2 months when I arrived. He was quite pleasant and fun. In fact, we hit it off immediately and quickly began acting like immature teenagers together, giggling and joking around stupidly.

One thing led to another and we became lovers within a week of my arrival. We kept our fling secret from our hosts, for no particular reason, which created a bit of  ‘mystery and secrecy’ around the house, somehow adding more thrill to our ‘illicit affair’.

In truth, it wasn’t illicit at all. Both of us were single and although we somehow felt like we were Henri and Keila’s ‘kids’, we certainly were not even remotely related. I don’t even know why we kept it secret. It just worked out that way.

Barron Falls- Kuranda- Australia

Barron Falls- Kuranda- Australia

On my first weekend break, Keila took me on a magnificent hike down, down, down into the Barron Falls Gorge at the base of the waterfall. I thoroughly enjoyed  clamboring around on the rocks like a mountain goat.

The gorge hike was a route known only by locals, so I was extra grateful for Keila’s guidance. How fortunate for both of us that we loved hiking! After Keila showed me several routes in the area, walking their gregarious dog became one of my favorite WWOOF tasks.

Pascal and I spent quite a lot of our free time going off on excursions together. He had been driving a car around Australia for several  months before his WWOOF gig in Kuranda, so we had wheels.

One day we visited a coffee plantation, where we were given a guided tour of coffee trees and learned the detailed processes of picking, drying, sorting, and roasting coffee beans. As an avid espresso fan, I was thrilled to learn all that’s involved in producing those wonderful drinks I’d become so fond of.

termite mound- Australia

astoundingly huge termite mounds are found many places in Australia

Another time we explored Atherton Tablelands. We discovered Queensland’s astoundingly tall termite mounds. We drove back unknown dirt tracks. We found lakes and jungle trails and giant trees and isolated spots just begging for romance.

We took another romantic trip- a River Cruise on the Barron River downstream to the upper edge of Barron Falls. We’d been invited by a fun group of young revelers equipped with bongo drums, guitars, harmonicas and beer. We all climbed aboard the flat-bottomed open-air boat and caste off down the river.

The musicians serenaded us as we drifted downstream surrounded by leafy tropical foliage and a bright blue sky. Our captain was well-experienced, so we did not plunge over the falls. After our exciting cruise, we all sauntered over to a local bar for more music and singing.

A few weeks into my WWOOF gig, Henri’s 60th birthday came up. Keila planned a big surprise party for him- a private river cruise on the Barron River. On the big day, Pascal, myself, and several of Keila’s friends all gathered at the riverside where we completely decorated a boat with colorful streamers, balloons, and birthday banners.

boat cruise on BArron River- Kuranda- Australia

boat cruise on BArron River- Kuranda- Australia

We’d already cooked up a big feast and a huge cake, and gathered dozens of bottles of wine. Somehow Keila lured an unsuspecting Henri to the river, where we all surprised him with a huge, noisy “Happy Birthday” welcome.  After a baudy birthday boat journey, we all gathered at the house to feast on a delightful gourmet  spread and get sloshed on French wine.

All these little adventures and excursions illustrate the very best part about WWOOFing:

* becoming part of a family and community instead of just being a traveler passing through

* feeling that people care about you, as a person, and not just your dollars

* engaging in a mutually-beneficial exchange with other people- helpful work for room and board

* finding out all the amazing unique places in a region that only locals know

* having time to explore an area and really get to know it.

I spent a wonderful month WWOOFing at Henri and Keila’s house before reluctantly setting off to explore more of Australia. I still look forward to future WWOOF adventures as I continue traveling the world.

QUESTIONS: 

Have you ever done WWOOFing? If so, where? How was it? What were your tasks? 

If not, would you like to try WWOOFing? At any particular place?

(* Flickr CC photo credits: Mathew Blank / RobandSteph / Millionaireat19 )

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If you’re interested in volunteering around the world, whether WWOOF ing or other volunteer opps, check out my friend Shannon O’Donnells great guidebook. It will really help you find the best volunteer gigs for you:

 

Volunteer Traveler's Handbook - Shannon ODonnell - A Little Adrift

The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook  by Shannon O’Donnell of A Little Adrift

In Shannon’s own words, “The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook guides new and veteran travelers through the challenges of finding, vetting, and choosing their ideal volunteer experience. The book’s practical advice is interwoven with first-person narrative, stories from a wide range of volunteers, beautiful photography, and expert interviews to help interested volunteers find meaningful ways to give back to communities all over the world-through volunteering, but also through social enterprises and supporting sustainable tourism practices.”

Click here for print book               Click for Kindle version

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9 comments

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  1. Ayelet - All Colores

    What a wonderfully fun month! I’ve been thinking of incorporating a WOOF-ing experience in a future trip, hopefully somewhere with mountains and snow :)

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Yeah, WWOOFing can be great fun… though I did have one disasterous WWOOF experience in USA last year! You can have the snow and mountains, I’ll stick to the tropics. :)) thanks for stopping by. cheers, Lash

  2. yumi

    Hi,
    Could you tell me this accomodation detail.
    what’s the name? I’m interested in wwoof.

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Yumi,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I would love to give you the details, but I’ve lost contact with Henri and Keila. The best I can advise you is to go to the Kuranda Markets to find the artist Henri.

      But I was there in 2003, almost 10 years ago, and Henri was in his 60s or 70s then. I’m not even sure if he’s there still. :(

      I will check to see if I have any information and let you know if I find anything.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

      cheers, Lash

      1. Yumi

        Thanks anyway, Lash!

  3. Susan

    I love KURANDA , a nice place full of nature. Its a must visit place.

    Thanks Lash.

    1. Lash WorldTour

      I agree Susan,

      Kuranda is very charming.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      cheers, Lash

  4. Clo

    Hi! We are two french girls, chloe and thelia. We travel in Australia since 6 months, we love the wild, and discover beautiful places in Australia. We are open minded, and respecful. We already worked in a farm, (picking pumkins, onions, plums, oranges, tomatoes, planting…). We love kuranda and his atmosphere, and we will be happy to come for do wwoofing with you!
    Our number is 0403711838, email adress: chloe_riera@hotmail.fr

    Cheers

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Cloe and Thelia.

      Great to hear you’re enjoying Australia!

      I’m sorry – you don’t understand this article! I DONT’ HAVE A WWOOF farm in Kuranda!!! I’m a traveler, like you, who went to Kuranda for WWOOFing.

      .. if you want to find the place where I was WWOOFing in Kuranda, please read the article.. I explain how to find Henri’s shop in the Kuranda Market. Good luck!

      cheers, Lash

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