Wwoof Australia Information - Willing Workers on Organic Farms in Australia
What is WWOOF?
WWOOF World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is an independent international organization which incorporates national organizations and mainly focuses on helping volunteers find placements opportunities on organic farms around the globe.
Although internationally recognized, and with world wide representation, there is no formal membership and the organization does not have a central membership list of national organizations incorporated under it. Different organizations simply maintain the same values and standards, identical and encouraging partnerships so as to promote working together to uphold WWOOF values."
WWOOF, also known as “Willing Workers on Organic Farms” was founded in 1971 by Sue Coppard, a London secretary, in England. Her main aim was to provide access to the country side for people who rarely frequented the country side like herself whilst supporting the organic movement.
She started with a trial working weekend for four people which she arranged at the bio- dynamic farm at Emerson College in Sussex through a contact in the Soil Association. Shortly, people started joining and the organizations popularity grew enormously as people got more and more interested. However, the term “workers” on the WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) title caused a number of countries labour authorities to misinterpret it as they thought that the WWOOF volunteers where in actual fact migrant workers.
Hence, in 2000, the first international conference for WWOOF was held with representatives from 15 countries. The confusion on “workers” on the WWOOF old title was done away with after the international conference, as the Willing Workers on Organic Farms was changed to World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. However, some other similar organizations have still returned the old name.
WWOOF is renowned globally with its contribution to the organic world as it brings into contact different people both individually and through other organizations who are trying to influence policy and consumer demands. WWOOF aims at providing volunteers first hand experience in ecological and organic sound growing methods to help the organic movement. The organization also gives chance to people so that they can experience life in rural settings and opportunities to also travel abroad.
WWOOF members commonly known as “WHOOFERS” are not paid, in any way, financially but are compensated by the host family with accommodation, food and opportunities to learn and also provide basic needs in exchange for assistance in gardening or farming by the volunteer. The voluntary period can basically range from a few days to a couple of years depending on the agreed terms. Working hour’s usually average 5 to 6 hours and since people come from different locations, WHOOFERS benefit from inter social and inter cultural relations.
Can I be a WWOOFer?
Do you have passion for making a difference? A Green thumb?
A belief in sound ecology and sustainable living? If the answer's 'yes', then WWOOF is the programme for you! Our team is supporting the values of the Wwoof organisation.
WWOOF organisations connect people who wish to volunteer on organic farms or other small properties with owners who are seeking volunteer help.
As part of this mutually beneficial exchange, WWOOF hosts provide volunteers with food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about and participate in organic lifestyles.
As this is a world wide organisation, WWOOF networks are located all over the globe in countries that include; Germany, Canada, Israel, France, Brazil, Hungary, France and Canada. This experience allows Australian travelers and visitors from over seas the opportunity to explore the country in a safe and easy manner, it also allows travelers to learn more about the area of Australia that they are working in and it teaches them organic growing skills.
As long as you are over the age of 17 you can join WWOOF and you don’t need to be Australian to join the Australian WWOOF network. Although the age limit is set from 17 years old it is important that members exercise a level of maturity and independence to participate in the program. It is also important that participants are physically fit and mentally capable of working in laborious conditions.
The hours spent working on the organic farms varies due to the varying degrees of self-sufficiency of the host farms and how busy the farm is at the time you are staying. Given the fact that in exchange for work the WWOOFer is receiving a full days keep (that is accommodation as well as food) it is generally considered working 4 – 6 hours per day is fair.
Go to Australia Agency is an internationally recognized agency which offers a variety of services for international employees, students and travellers who are interested in seeking new options in Australia such as travel, work and study. We like to promote environmental friendly travel options such as Wwoofing in Australia.
As an Australian Education Agency we understand that the process of applying to study abroad may be complicated, stressful, overwhelming and very costly to name a few, so that is exactly why we provide all international students with a broad range of services free of charge. We believe that offering these services will help us to be more relatable to a wider range of people and also make the information or advice we provide available and accessible for everyone.
Most international students applying to study in Australia are subjected to English language tests, obtaining an appropriate Visa with certified documentation, finding suitable accommodation and much more. So our FREE international student services are specialised in assisting applicants in a variety of areas which are designed to inform you with suitable advice, simplify the process and guide you to having a positive future in Australia.
Some of our services include:
- Assistance with course application (Including how to apply, what may be suggested for individual students and general information about courses)
- Provide suitable information about English language tests such as IELTS
- Guidance and information in regards to forms and formal documentation
- Maintaining continuous support prior to, during and after application submissions (often via email)
- Assistance with Visa enquiries and guidance with Visa processes
- Offering information about flights and transportation, internationally and also in Australia
- Helping to locate suitable student accommodations
- To fulfil any enquiries about life in Australia and offer any support
Our intention is to create new opportunities for all people of different backgrounds regardless of previous educational experience to ensure the best possible outcomes. The purpose of our free international student services are to guide, assist, support and make the process as stress free as possible for all students without any hesitation.
With our knowledge and experience with the Australian education scheme, we are able to offer the best of advice and guidance towards successful results. Although studying internationally may be a difficult process, Go to Australia Agency is committed to supporting you every step of the way ensuring that you receive accurate and effective advice. All you need to worry about is work, travel and study. Leave the rest up to us.
Why do WWOOFing in Australia?
WWOOF Australia Advantages
WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) is an organisation that was started in the United Kingdom in 1971 and has since spread to many parts of the world. And one of those parts is Australia. That has over 1500 WWOOF hosts throughout the country that offers a variety of experiences and opportunities for people who are passionate about organic farming.
How you become involved in WWOOF is quite simple. Membership for 12 months per individual is $60 and if you have a travelling partner (always a good idea) it will knock you and your buddy back $70 for the pair of you, which is a great saving. When you have become a member you will receive a book about WWOOF and a basic volunteer accident insurance plan while you are working at the WWOOF host’s residence.
But, the other benefits of going WWOOFing are manifold, and will probably make your stay in Australia less strenuous, and a lot more life affirming because you have access to a lot more people in the community because of your membership in WWOOF. And the ability to develop good relationships with the WWOOF hosts in Australia and their contacts and communities is a real possibility because you already have your foot in the ‘cultural door’.
While other benefits of WWOOFing are:
In exchange for 4 to 6 hours of labour per day you will get your meals for free, as well as accommodation. And as a member of WWOOF you are given the opportunity to live in a variety of settings from commercial farms to small ‘ma and pa’ organic operations, co-op, and communal living situations. There is also the opportunity to live with local people who are passionate about organic farming, although they might not own a plot of land.
And, the power remains in your hands because you get to choose the living situation that you are most comfortable with. For instance, if you are a science student, you might have a passion for commercial farming, and might want to make a contribution to more environmentally friendly farming practises in your future career.
While a student of the arts, philosophy, or sociology might want to see what it is like living in a communal situation. And as a WWOOF volunteer you have the opportunity to pick and choose what kind of situations you want to contribute to while you are WWOOFing around the country.
How you do this, is by going to the WWOOF bulletin board and amendment list (electronic) that is posted there. The amendment list has the details of all the WWOOF hosts who are still active in the country.
So you can plot your journey around Australia and the outback with a higher degree of safety than the average backpacker because you will always be going somewhere and someone (your WWOOF host) will always be waiting for your arrival.
Your 12 month membership in WWOOF Australia could see you in possibly dozens of situations and the witness of some extraordinary phenomena that many Australian’s never see.
So, if you are the adventurous type, than WWOOF maybe the opportunity of a lifetime for you.
- Daily meals, often prepared and consumed with the host family. A great way to get to know the organic lifestyle better!
- First hand experience of sustainable growing and farming methods by helping your hosts with organic growing, bio-dynamics and permaculture.
- The opportunity to learn about life in the host country by living and working, alongside local family and like-minded communities.
JOINING WWOOF AND IT’S BENEFITS:
Once you have decided to that you want to join the Australian WWOOF network the first thing you need to do is to purchase a WWOOF book. The WWOOF book is your proof of membership (in the back of this book your birth date and date of joining will appear as well as your signature so no one else can use your book) and it contains a list of wwoof host farms within Australia.
After you have purchased the WWOOF book you will receive a twelve month membership subscription. This subscription will give you a small insurance plan which will cover you when you are working on registered host farms.
Finally after you have paid your membership and received your WWOOF book you can now go and find the host farm that appeals most to you.
If you are considering a WWOOF membership it is very important that you research the website and ensure that the Hosts you have chosen are legitimate as there are many fraudulent websites offering WWOOF memberships.
MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS OF WWOOF:
As well as working in exchange for food and accommodation (which is usually in the family home) those with a WWOOF membership are also able to receive; a knowledge of organic growing/farming, an education about Australia, a choice of 1200 organic farms offering to teach participants aspects of – organic growing, bio-dynamics and permaculture as well as the opportunity to meet people from all over the world with varying degrees of experience.
Advice and Tips on WWOOFing in Australia
Wwoof Australia - Advice
Before you embark on your adventure, here are some useful tips to help you get the most from you WWOOFing experience.
Organising your host
A convenient time to contact your prospective WWOOF Host is between noon and 2pm, or between 6pm and 8pm. Prepare your ’pitch’; let them know why you are keen on staying and working with them and what you have to offer that might set you apart from other candidates.
If necessary, have a trusted family member of friend contact the host but realise that most will wish to speak to you one on one before a decision is made.
Whether approaching a host via email or telephone, please provide:
- your WWOOF membership number
- your name
- your age group
- your sex
- your contact phone number
- date of membership (to determine the validity of the current membership)
- details of skills, abilities, attributes etc. you feel you are able to offer that may benefit the Host
- when you would like to come and for how long you would like to stay
- why you have selected this particular host
- if presently staying with a WWOOF Host, the name and contact
- details of that Host
- any physical limitations, allergies or dietary restrictions the Host will need to be aware of if accepting you as a WWOOFer.
A necessary condition of staying with a host is that the applicant is either an existing WWOOF member or is willing to join if accepted.
In the latter instance, once identification and payment is received, WWOOF will send out your membership book to your host’s address.
To apply, individuals are asked to complete a WWOOFer application form, print and post or fax it; copy and pasting the information then e-mailing to the desired host is also acceptable.
The WWOOFing experience
To ensure maximum productivity and enjoyment, ask your prospective host questions before setting out, including:
- The type of accommodation provided
- The number of hours you are expected to work daily
Generally meals are provided by the host family and can be vegetarian and non-vegetarian; if you have special dietary requirements, it is a sensible option to bring your own food.
(Those looking to participate in the WWOOF program should appreciate that a certain satisfactory level of physical strength, stamina and mental determination is required to meet the demands of the WWOOF experience.)
To promote active engagement between participants, hosts and fellow WWOOFers, you are encouraged to bring photographs, music, books and other mementos from your home to share.
Once there, feel free to participate in the local community by conversing with the locals and spending money in the nearby stores and establishments. This will only help nurture and improve the community for years to come.
Ideally, WWOOFers are adventurers who like to try different locations for a period of time, contribute and learn, and then move on to a new host, all in the name of diversifying experience and exchange.
SUCCESSFUL WOOFING TIPS:
- Keep in mind that many of the host farms are trying to maintain a simple, sustainable lifestyle therefore a respect for the land is required.
- The work you will be doing is wide and variable so be prepared to do tasks such as gardening, mustering, planting, milking and compost making.
- The minimum stay on a WWOOF host farm is 2 nights whilst the maximum can be mutually agreed upon by yourself and the host (though trial periods for longer stays are generally required).
- Accommodation conditions can vary so it might be a good idea to pack a sleeping bag not to mention boots and gloves, sunglasses and hat for protection whilst working.
- When making contact with your chosen host try to call between the hours of Noon and 2 pm (lunch time) or 6pm and 8pm. Be sure to mention any allergies, food preferences or physical limitations you may have.
- When conversing with the host make sure you emphasise your skills and reasons as to why you wish to be a worker on their property.
- If you are planning to WWOOF with your children make sure you mention this to your host before you have been given the position. Some host do accept children onto their farms.
- Make sure you have planned ahead before you travel to Australia. Work out how you are going to get to your allotted host farm and be there on time, don’t expect the host to pick you up at a moments notice.
- Use your common sense and respect your host. Don’t raid their cupboards, use their internet and run up their phone bill without previous consent.
You may sometimes have the luxury of getting meals that are already prepared.
Even though this maybe so, the following are the characteristics you find when it comes to food matters as a WWOOFer in AU:
- Food is prepared communally with other family members, workers or woofers giving you an opportunity to talk ... however sometimes you prepare your own food by yourself.
- Some people eat together around a table.
- Meals are prepared using food that has been grown on the farm.
- Home made wine sometimes accompanies the meals.
- Often the food is fresh and organic but there instances where you get bought packet food.
- Food is seasonal. You may not have shops in the area.
It is advisable to talk to your host about any special dietary needs that you have to know whether they can be catered for. If this does not happen, you may be asked about it when you arrive.
If you are a vegetarian and it bothers you to see others eating meat, you may want to reconsider your staying in a farm that rears animals as the host may eat them.
Although it is handy to be able to eat anything, hosts are very hospitable and may have had wwoofers who had special dietary needs and can therefore handle any such guests.
To ensure least exposure to accidents and their effects keep the following in mind.
- Listen to the farmers instructions!
- Wear working clothes!
- Protect your feet with closed shoes!
- Don't forget to buy a pair of good gloves to protect your hands!
- Stay focused while working!
- Look at what you are doing!
- Put tools safely away!
- Keep doors and gates closed!
- Ask before you pat any animal!
- Riding wild animals unassisted may take some time so try not be very hard on yourself.
- If you walk in the night always use your torch!
- Have a private insurance policy that covers your activities while wwoofing.
- Keep your own First Aid Kit handy!!!
Ask your host!
It is quite unlikely for you to get injuries during your wwoofing experience. Working practices of the host are often sound. The farmers often rely on their ability to think practically while on their feet and some may not have knowledge of the ‘Health and Safety’ guidelines. If you are uncomfortable with a task that you have been asked to undertake try to assess if you can do it when guided. If you are quite weary about it you may inform your hosts about it politely. Most are quite accommodating and will respect this decision.
WWOOF Hosts in Australia
Guideline in choosing your wwoof hosts.
- Consider the setting you would prefer to work in. Do you want a remote place without electricity, a peaceful place or a more developed area?
- Refer to a map for example ‘Google Earth’ to find out about the rural and urban density.
- Find out the size of the land that a host occupies then choose to suit your need. A big land with a lone land keeper is ideal where you want solitude and quiet atmosphere.
- Get information on whether the host is offering a setting that includes family and children.
Don't Wwwof without your own:
- working clothes, shoes and gloves
- fist aid kit
It can be difficult to know what you are after if you have never wwoofed.
Create a mental picture of what you would prefer trying to remain as realistic as possible.
It is very possible for you to get an ideal setting suitable for you in many of the wwoof venues the world over. One might even be just right at your doorstep.
Please read this before visiting your first guest family!
- Accommodation can be very basic. Please don't expect too much!
- When emailing your host the first time ask them questions about the accommodation!
- Ask for the house rules ... your host will appreciate this :-)
- If your English is limited ask them to write it for you!
- Respect privacy!
- Keep your everything clean!
- Keep you belongings in your room! Don't forget your stuff in the bathroom!
- Ask when you like to use some facilities such as the internet, pool, washing machine, stove ...
- At the end of your wwoofing, leave the room as well as you found it.
If you have problems:
- Ask your host if you need something!
- Try to talk if you have any problems!
Ask before you use the internet!
Use internet allocated time cautiously and have limits so that you are not distracted i.e. you can send important e-mails once every couple of weeks.
Never upload anything! Be aware some farmer will charge you!
- About the types of accommodation
- Accommodation can vary from farm to farm.
- Host families live everywhere ... in the city, in the outback, next to the beach, in the bush ...
- Wwoofers are usually accommodated in caravans, tents, garden houses within the farm land.
- Occasionally you could have your own room the farmhouse where you experience the routines at the farm first hand.
- Usually bathroom facilities and kitchen are shared.
- Bathrooms can be basic: A compost toilet and an outside shower may be provided if you are staying far from the farmhouse.
Goodwill and trust are the main tenets on which the movement runs.
Always know that you do not have to persevere staying in a place where you are uncomfortable. Here are some guidelines to follow in such an event:
- Try to work through the cause of your discomfort amiably.
- Talk to your host about the upsetting thing to see if there is an easy solution.
- If you decide to leave make sure to inform your host about it.
- You can get the wwoof contacts from the host list book to inform them about your experience whether good or bad.
Rarely will a host ask you to leave. This however may happen mainly because of behaviour that is inconvenient to them.
WWOOFing in Australia Experiences
Wwoof Australia - Experiences
When me and my friend arrived at our new WWOOFer host we were so proud that we found the way. Every time we travel it is a big challenge for us to read the map. In the big cities like Sydney or Melbourne it is easy because you can always find somebody to ask. But unfortunately the most hosts live in smaller towns. And if you travel after sunset you may not find an Australian outside his house. So the first match to find the right address was won.
The next challenge was how we would come in. In my home country it is not such a problem. Usually you ring the bell. Here exists a bell too, but after using it three times we decided that it does not work. There was a high fence which parted us from the house. So it was impossible to jump (especially because we had really heavy backpacks) the other problem was the sign that made us believe there would be living dogs inside. If dangerous or not we are afraid of dogs. So we were agreeing that it would be better to stay outside and wait what would happen.
After we won this challenge and met the new hosts inside the house they showed us our new room, the bathroom, the kitchen and our food. They bought us what we have given in commission one day before. Proud they showed us the 20 l of milk which they have carried all the way from the supermarket without a car. We looked exited in our food cabinet. And we could not belief it. Why 20 litres of milk? We just want to stay 5 days. And it was the first time that we made an experience with the thing what you common call different culture. In the culture from our host you read “l” like a 1 and not like a l as the short form for litre. So they read 1l as 11 litres. The next match that we had to contest was to share the bathroom with cockroaches. At the door and in the washing basin we could find them.
For make sure that we do not forget that we are living at a mini zoo now, we were sleeping under a window which is directly connected with the cages of the birds. So we woke up early, when they started their singing. During the day you may find it nice, but if you want to sleep, you will hate it.
And at the next day we met the animals. Not the small ones which everybody who is new in Australia finds terrible. I mean the ones we were there for. They had more animals than the ad from the WWOOFer Book or the different phone calls with the host let us now. We discovered animals every where. We could find ducks, guinea pigs, dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, fishes and snakes. To let us feel more comfortable they told us that they are not poison, they just bit you. But only if you are new. Great. I am new. I do not know how but I survived the first feeding and cleaning without a bit. We worked two times per day and if you were good you did not need more than 2 hours.
After work we discovered more animals. Like crocodiles and dolphins. They are living in the basin in the back of the house. But fortunately they were made of plastic. So we could swim with them. If you were tired of animals you had the possibility to use the fast internet to switch in your home country. If you were not tired of animals in the evening you could learn something about tigers and elephants. The TV and the children will teach you.
If you really like animals, are not afraid to make your hands dirty and like milk, this host will welcome you and you feel like home, even it is a new culture.
My wwoofing experience was amazing. I was looking for outdoor work that allowed me to learn new things. So some people advised me to do wwoofing. I joined the programme and had the choice between lots of different organic farms.
I decided for a small family owned farm near Brisbane. My new hosts were very friendly and I started to work right from the first day.
The work included building animal enclosures, cutting lifts, mowing, fencing. It was exhausting but very interesting.
I worked 5 hours a day so I was able to rest after the work and enjoy my leisure time.
Being a wwoofer means not being afraid of getting dirty, using your muscles and above of all, having a lot of fun.
Wwoof in Australia
We are a French couple who have been in Australia for 3 months. We arrived in Sydney where and had booked a backpacker in the city for a week. When the three weeks were over, it was no trouble to find a room in the city in a house we shared with 3 other people.
Finding a job was easy too, so everything should have been fine, but we had a problem. Originally we came to Australia to have fantastic experiences and to improve our English. For the experiences, it was really interesting to discover Sydney as a beautiful place with a lot of things to see.
However, we worked a lot and we couldn’t really enjoy our life in Sydney and at the same time, we didn’t meet enough people to talk to and improve our English.
So we decided to leave an live another adventure, trying wwoofing.
Wwoofing (willing work on organic farms) is basically working for a family or a small business for accommodation and food.
Wwoofing gives you the chance to live a fantastic experience: it allows you to exchange intercultural with a new people and to share a real human experience, away from the commercial backpacking routes.
There is always a lot of work to do, and so we worked in gardening, cooking and animal caring.
Of course there are also some disadvantages to wwoofing: Firstly, you don't earn any money. Secondly, the experience is different for every farm you work at and unfortunately there are some black sheeps in the woofing community that use their woofers, but in the end you're alwyas free to leave.
In our experience everything went well, and we think this great experience should motivate other travellers to try it out.
WWOOFing in Brisbane
Redlands is a pleasant Brisbane satellite town located close to Moreton Bay, incorporating shops, parks, mangrove boardwalks and even a scenic lighthouse. Our Wwoof place is located within easy reach of all of these, especially if you have your own transport. We had a car but a pushbike would be ideal.
Work for us involved landscape gardening, building a network of ponds in the back garden which will hopefully attract frogs. We found this very rewarding as we were able to see the project through from design to completion.
Self-regulated Hours were 7ish to mid-afternoon with a decent lunch break. Starting early is vital in order to get the heavy work done before it gets too hot. Young, fit people should have no trouble keeping up, and there's the opportunity to swim in the pool to cool off.
The property is one of the most unusual places you'll ever stay. The host, a reptile enthusiast and former zoo keeper, hosts a menagerie of exotic animals including snakes, water dragons, parrots (which do uncanny impersonations of the family's two children) and ducks, both inside and outside the house. You'll have the opportunity to eat your dinner overlooking terrariums and cook whilst chatting to the birds.
This placement is perfect for an independent couple or pair of friends as the hosts are busy people who don't always have time to keep you entertained. They also appreciate some privacy at weekends, so those planning a stay longer than a week should consider taking the opportunity to visit the picturesque Stradbroke Island for a couple of days, as the ferry is conveniently close.
The ad in the WWOOFing Book told me about the little minizoo that the family would have. Even in the phone calls my new hosts told me they have a lot of animals. But I thought that would not be a problem for me, because I like animals.
But when I arrived at my new host family I was really surprised. It was true, they have a really big zoo of little animals. You can find any kind of birds, mouses and ducks. Also they have snakes, mealworms and reptiles. But they are living in cages. So I feel safe. Furthermore the family asserts that they are not poison.
The problems are the other animals which live everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Behind the washbasin, behind the doors. You can find cockroaches, ants, spiders. And they do not live in cages. So I do not feel really safe. I know that they have more fear of me, but you never know.
Especially in Australia where you can recover a lot of beautiful and strange animals. But the most important question is, if they are poison. But my host, particularly the children were laughing about me and teach me what I have to do in case that I meet a wild living animal. First I should remember that I have no fear. They have more fear for me. I do not believe in this, but I feel better if I say it loud and strong in case of a meeting. Second I do not touch them, because you never know. Most of the animals are not dangerous even in Australia, but maybe they brought forward diseases. And third I should go away and follow my way.
I stay at this place for the next 2 weeks so I have a lot of possibilities to practise this rules. My task for the next weeks is to take care of the animals. The cats live outside, so I only have to feed them. That is easy.
But to be an animal keeper connoted to be in touch with the animals. My task includes to feed the animals with bread, grass or grain. Of course it says to make sure that every animal feel alright.
Furthermore it includes not only the nice sides. Even the smelling work has to be done. Unfortunately the animals have no water closet. That would be easier for me.
So the work includes to clean up the cages. One time per week it is necessary to clean the ponds from the ducks. That needs a little bit more time. But it is good for the fitness of your body.
For all the work which I split up in to two times a day needs round about 2 hours per day. The dogs live outside in the garden. That means no more work as to clear the shit.
They have more animals as I have dreamed of. Definitely. Every kind of animals that I could imagine lives at this place.
Every day I am better in respect the rules. I am sure that the day when I can go without no fear through the house is not far.
I learn a lot about animal care, I improve my fear against special animals. And of course I really begin to like all the little animals, too.