Moving to the country to undertake my regional work was never part of my grand Australian plan. Although I enjoy going with the flow, I do compulsively like to plan for the future and my trip to Australia was no exception. After enjoying five months in Sydney and having just embarked on a month long trip up the East Coast to Cairns, I imagined myself falling in love with Brisbane or the Gold Coast and working there.
However, when I visited both Brisbane and the Gold Coast I didn't feel any particular attraction to either city so started to re-think my plans. After meeting people on my east coast trip who were about or had undertaken various work to complete their regional requirement, I started to formulate new ideas. By the time we hit Magnetic Island in Queensland, I had been offered an interview for a role and two weeks later was offered the position.
In Australia the rules for obtaining a second year working holiday visa are as follows. Complete 88 days (three months) regional work. In most states this must be out of the cities however in states such as the Northern Territory this can apply to work anywhere in the state.
My new role was situated seven hours away from Sydney on a farm near the small town of Warren, NSW. It is here where I spent the next five months living on this farm in my own cottage and looking after the families children, animals and land.
On the 10th May 2018 I said goodbye to the final few friends still staying in Sydney and hopped on the train to Dubbo. This was the first time I had truly gone in land in Australia and watched in fascination as the landscape changed from built-up urban areas to the lush greenery of the Blue Mountains to finally the flatlands of the Central West.
I was kept company on this trip by a chatty local from Dubbo who told me about the local area, her family and everything in between. I felt very clued up by the time our train finally pulled into Dubbo station! I was met by one of my hosts, Claire and her 16 month old daughter Sophia. As I got off the train, their previous regional worker left to head back to Sydney. After meeting Sophia and figuring out the baby basics we were in the car and on our way to the farm. The land around Dubbo is mainly flat and much is farm land. This region was in a period of drought throughout my time there and as such much of the land was dry and barren save for the occasional farm with irrigation. It was also cotton season and I saw many farms with huge bales of Cotton all waiting to be taken to the cotton gin to be processed.
After an hour or so drive we arrived at the farm. On the edge of a river the farm was large and spanned for many miles. There was room for all staff and family members to have their own space and homes on the land. My cottage was a five minute walk to my host families homestead and another 15 minute drive to my other host families home. Our farm had many produce some of which were cotton, livestock and wheat. There was therefore a huge amount of land to explore and use to run, bike and keep fit.
We straight away got me settled in my cottage which would become my new home! I was lucky enough to have this cottage to myself so I could have some space and separation from work. My cottage was modest but perfect for me with two bedrooms, a connecting bathroom, living room and kitchen. Over the months I added and took away things slowly making it my own. My house sat behind the children's grandparents house and we shared a garden. This was a real highlight for me as it meant I had close proximity to the Grandparents adorable dogs and also was able to help and take advantage of their amazing veggie garden.
Previously before moving to the country, I had been living in shared accommodation for over six months. In Sydney I lived in a room with two other girls and an original seven in a two bedroom flat. Whilst travelling I was constantly in dorms so personal space wasn't something I knew a lot about during this time! After a few weeks getting used to this new squished way of living I didn't mind in the slightest and enjoyed the company and constant social interaction. It was therefore very odd to have no one to share a meal with or spend the evening with on the farm.
I also had no WiFi in my cottage and only one bar of signal at the best of times. I therefore got used to downloading Netflix shows when I had WiFi to watch at a later time and also got into Australian TV shows such as The Block and Love Island AU. I read a lot more in the cottage and found I didn't rely on social media as much as I had before. If I ever did have time to have a scroll of Instagram I felt that I hadn't missed out on much and I became very turned off which was a nice change.
Although it was quite isolated on the farm, I had many friends also doing their regional work in the neighbouring tours and on weekends we would often congregate at our friends home much closer to the main town. This meant we could go out and socialise on the weekends and not have to worry about the long drive back to our farms. I was there during the winter months and with the drought leading to large numbers of kangaroos near the road it was very dangerous to drive at night if you were not used to the indigenous animals.
Living in the countryside was the polar opposite of my time in Sydney and travelling but it provided a chance to slow down and reconnect with myself and the space around me.
I will be writing a series on my time spent on the farm and the different experiences I had. My time spent in rural Australia was a real highlight of my two year trip as it was so different to anything I have had the opportunity to experience before. The community, way of life and unique aspects are so special to me and I look forward to sharing more of this wonderful period of my trip with you.