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Travellers experience farm life

ABOVE: Taiwanese travellers Wan-Ching “Sunny” Lee, Chao-Wei “Charles” Kuo and Ann-Ting Ho are ready to muster some cattle.
ABOVE: Taiwanese travellers Wan-Ching “Sunny” Lee, Chao-Wei “Charles” Kuo and Ann-Ting Ho are ready to muster some cattle.

COOKING, cleaning and cattle mustering may not be everyone's ideal way to spend a holiday but, for three Taiwanese travellers, it's the perfect opportunity to truly experience rural Australia.

Ann-Ting Ho, 27, Chao-Wei "Charles" Kuo, 25, and Wan-Ching "Sunny" Lee, 25, have spent the past two weeks lending a hand at Michelle Burton's Liston cattle farm as part of the WWOOF program.

Willing Workers On Organic Farms has travellers staying on farming properties, working between four and six hours a day, five days a week in exchange for food and accommodation.

Tagging along to Ms Burton's meditation classes, a Toastmasters public speaking session and the Stanthorpe races, the Taiwanese trio said the set-up allowed them to be more involved with the Granite Belt lifestyle.

"Michelle brings us into her life," Sunny said.

"It's different from travelling alone," Ann agreed.

"When we travel alone we do not know the history of the place."

The group is part of a world-wide WWOOFer movement, which has proven popular on the Granite Belt.

Ms Burton estimates 20-30 local farms are hosts with the program, which she says is all about give and take.

"I appreciate what they do and hopefully they appreciate having somewhere to stay," she said.

"You have to respect what you're each offering.

"You've got to be a kind, open, sharing sort of person.

"You have to welcome strangers into your house and you have to be willing to teach and be patient."

The Liston property owner has been enlisting WWOOFers to help maintain her cattle farm and two-hectare garden on and off for the past four years.

"It's a way of getting people with certain skills to help you with the things you can't do yourself," she said.

"Some are really experienced farmers, others have never picked up a shovel."

Craving some time out last year, Ms Burton spent nine months WWOOFing around Canada and America.

The experience gave her an insight into the other end of the arrangement.

"It was a bit of a shift - you weren't in control, you weren't the boss anymore" Ms Burton said

Working on health retreats, alpaca farms, cattle properties and berry farms, her travels were vast and varied.

"At one stage I was staying in a five-star luxury cabin in Canada ... that was a magical, beautiful place to be.

"It went from that to camping in a tent on Santa Catalina Island (off the coast of Los Angeles) - that was the pits.

"I also lived in a dock in Alaska, which was a really interesting experience," she said.

Ms Burton encouraged potential Granite Belt hosts and travellers to try the WWOOF program.

Visit http://www.wwoof.com.au.

Topics:  farm life tourism


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