As I mentioned previously, in order to get a second years working holiday visa for Australia the department of immigration require you to complete 88 days of regional work during your first working holiday visa.
So I’ve headed down to the island of Tasmania to work on a herbal tea farm. The farm is situated on 520 acres of land on the side of a valley between mountains. The landscape is very green and plush with rainforest and grasslands, it reminds me a little of the English countryside and is nothing like the landscape I have seen in the rest of Australia. Breath taking sunrises and sunsets and on a clear night you can see a million stars.
The farm was established 28 years ago by a New Zealander called Greg and his wife Libby. Everything here has been created by them. There are 3 main gardens packed full of different herbs and vegetables, a dam which you can swim in, a sauna hut.
They produce some of the finest herbal tea I’ve ever tasted. Tea blends include Stress Ease, Digest Ease, Pregnancy, Lemon Light which contain herbs such as Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Camomile, Liquorish, calendula, Nettle, Angelica. They also make natural beauty products, infused and essential oils for medicinal use.
On the farm there is a Pony called Tom, he thinks he is a human and in between eating he likes to try and help out with the days work. There are also 3 sheep, and 13 chickens which we get fresh eggs from everyday. The chickens are protected by one very stubborn rooster who I’ve had a couple of confrontations with when going to collect the eggs.
I live in a wooden hut (much like a shed) on the side of a hill in the forest. It can get very cold at night getting down to around freezing so I use plenty of blankets to at least try and keep me warm.
I start most mornings at 6am when the sunrise and birds wake me up. I work 6 hours a day with half an hour’s break, the work is hard and physically demanding but rewarding. It’s really nice great to be outside everyday working with the land instead of inside an office environment. It’s taken some getting use to but I feel like I am reconnecting with nature, what I am doing feeling natural and beneficial.
Work so far has included; Harvesting plants such as red clover, nettle, peppermint, calendula, building and removing fence lines, Weeding peppermint/spearmint/nettle; Digging up thistles, Splitting firewood, rubbing nettle and hyssop. I’ve also completed a promotional brochure design and some web development.
To help relieve the stresses of the physical work there are opportunities to practise yoga and meditate daily.
Daily dangers include; Tiger snakes (3rd most deadly snake?), leaches, giant ants. So far I’ve had 7 huntsmen spiders and a couple of red backs visiting my hut in the evening. Other cool wildlife is Bubble bees, dragon flies, frogs, grasshoppers and wallabies.
We cook on a wood burning stove. The food here is vegetarian and the majority of it is grown in the vegetable garden. Everything which can be made by hand is made by hand, there is no such thing as processed food here. We use solar energy for power and to heat the water, when possible some of the stored energy is sent to the main power grid.
Life here is very remote; to show you how remote here is a link to a Google maps satellite image. There is no mobile phone signal or internet connection. If I want to send or pick up any messages I can hike for an hour and a half through the rain forest and up the mountain or I wait until my weekly day off and get a ride to Launceston city where I also pick up my emails at the “On-line Access Centre” in the local library. Being this cut off from communicating regularly with the outside world is both challenging and liberating at the same time. Things are completely different in comparison to living in Sydney or any big city.
I’ve completed 34 days out of 88. It’s going to be challenging to see this through to the end; one thing that is keeping me going is that in just over 2 months I will be on a flight to Kula Lumpar the starting point for 3 months of travelling around South East Asia. Exciting times.