Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On Cudgerie Hill

After three more nights of hostel living in the beach town of Byron Bay, I moved 30 minutes inland to the tiny village of Clunes, where I have been wwoofing since December 19th.  WWOOF stands for “willing workers on organic farms” and the deal is I work four hours a day (with one rest day) for food and a place to stay.  This is my first time wwoofing, but I think I have a pretty good situation.  It’s not exactly working on a farm, but I fill the role of resident gardener/help around the house.

I have a great bedroom to myself in my host’s mud brick home and three nutritious meals a day.  My host (Catherine) has spent most of her working life as a documentary filmmaker and she lives in a small community (four houses) of other artists, including another filmmaker, a composer, and a graphic designer.  They call this place “Cudgerie Hill.”  I haven’t asked why.  I dig the neighborly feel that exists here, though; they share tools and supplies and often have dinners together.

Complete with sweet as mosquito net.

That being said, this place would be a great setting for a murder mystery novel.  A small, remote, rural community with international wwoofers coming in and out—when I arrived there were two French guys also staying—where tensions could easily flare.  They don’t lock doors either (if they even have the keys).  And if the floodwaters rise then the area can quickly become isolated: water can cover all the main roads when they dip down into the surrounding valleys.  Everyone would be stuck here for a few days, plenty of time to solve a mystery.  I’ll have to give it some thought.

The view a hundred meters down the road.

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed living and working here in the subtropical rainforest.  The French guys—Julien and Pierre—and I overlapped for a week and it was fun having other wwoofers here.  It certainly made the work easier, especially when we had to do forest weeding, which is real soulless work.  A lot of invasive species have flourished in this area, so to re-establish the rainforest we have to rip out all the forest undergrowth and then plant indigenous trees.  It’s especially hard to motivate yourself when the forest extends as far as you can see down the hill.

Forest weeding's a bitch.
Pierre and Julien with their freshly painted van, Herbie.

This post is starting to get long so I’ll have to continue in the next one with all the activities I’ve been doing and perhaps my daily schedule.  For now I’ll list some of the tasks I’ve done:
  • weeding
  • planting hydrangeas
  • pruning guava trees
  • more weeding
  • picking and pruning lemon trees
  • banana bagging
  • painting outside, staining inside
  • a little more weeding
  • leaf blowing

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