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Fairweather... or not.

Grafton, Australia

We left Nimbin, spent a few rather time-killing-esque days back in Byron (rain, rain, fish and chips on the beach, some beach-chilling when the sun finally deigned to appear), then caught the bus to the 'dump' of Grafton to meet our second-to-last host. She was not what we expected - a Scottish girl in her mid-twenties, her accent baffled us for a long while until i finally ventured to ask what her connected was with the hosts listed in the book. Turns out that this was Eleanor - 'the WWOOFer who never left'! She had come on to WWOOF (her first ever host) at Fairweather Farm with owner Hayden after spending a month or so travelling between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney on a 3month backpacking trip to Oz. She got to Fairweather, met Hayden, they got together, she applied for her first year working visa, then her second... Then they got engaged, so she applied for the partnership visa, and since that first planned 3 month trip she's never really left (except for a 6 week trip back to Scotland to pick up clothes... and, presumably, explain herself to her parents - that had to be an interesting phonecall home!). As she herself put it: "It's funny how things work out."

Definitely. I bet she never saw herself living in a wood cabin with her future husband on his 450hectare property when she left home with her backpack a few years back! Fairweather Farm (not so fair-weather, judging by the near-constant rain we had during our ten-day visit!) was a pretty amazing place to visit, let alone live. Mostly forested, with creeks and wild bush, kangaroos and numerous birdlife, snakes (I know for a rather-to-close-for-comfort fact that there were snakes, read on...), and many oddly shaped and hued mushrooms, the farm's business, run almost single-handedly by Hayden and Eleanor, is growing veggies and herbs for sale to restaurants, box schemes, pubs etc. Bought by Hayden - previously a town-boy - about 7 years ago, he transformed the large paddock (very large!) where the three dams, large vege/herb gardens, bunkhouse, 'main cabin' and our private eco-cabin are now situated from nothing, and built up his business by simply learning by doing and probably learning from making mistakes, too. It was all wonderfully laid-back (apart from pickin' and packin' days before a big order had to be delivered, normally a Tuesday), none of the hard-nosed commercial drive I'd expected from a commercial property. Plus, the area was beautiful, and remote.

Fairweather is reached from the mainroad outside Nymboida via 7km of bumpy logging tracks through the state forest - four-wheel driving conditions handled admirably by Eleanor in her decidely 2WD car. It's a long way from, well, anywhere. You have to really, really want that bar of chocolate to simply 'nip to shops' when you live there.

We were staying in a private cedar-wood eco cabin, quite secluded away from the other buildings, in between the three dams - we had to walk aross one of the dam walls to reach it, and at night the walk would be a deafening one as hundreds of frogs set up an astoundingly loud cacophony of different croaks from the waters edge. The one-room cabin with adjoining compost toilet had it's own kitchenette, so we could fix our own breakfasts to eat out on the verandah. It was absolutely the best place we've stayed on the trip - the views, the peace (well, apart from frogs and occasional visits from the farm dogs, red kelpies Brandy and Jasper).

There were 2 other WWOOFers there when we arrived, Austrians Patrick and Max, who were staying in the bunkhouse. The property also had 6 fairly new young pigs, some goats who kept themsleves to themselves, the dogs, and the odd couple - the goose and the Muscovy duck, Daphne, who had a wonky leg from being attacked by a goanna.

permalink written by  LizIsHere on October 7, 2010 from Grafton, Australia
from the travel blog: New Zealand & Australia 2010
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