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Fun on the Farm – Volunteering in Ballina

Before we’d come to Australia, our plan was to start in Sydney and travel our way up the coast before moving on to Indonesia. However, because we had overindulged somewhat in New Zealand (and Australia itself), we decided to extend our trip, boost our bank balance and enhance our experience of Australia by working here for a few months.

To get a taste of working life again after eight months of travel (and to reduce our outgoings while we searched for a paying job), we started off volunteering on an organic macademia nut farm near Ballina in New South Wales.

Our macademia nut farm was in Alstonville - just outside of Ballina

Our macademia nut farm was in Alstonville – just outside of Ballina

We would wake at about eight each day and work for around five hours in return for our full board and keep on a quiet twenty-acre orchard, complete with a family of ducks and chickens.

Our home

Our home

The ducks (unfortunately both of the ducklings in this picture ended up as dinner for the snake you'll see pictured later...)

The ducks (unfortunately both of the ducklings in this picture ended up as dinner for the snake you’ll see pictured later…)

In a short space of time we learnt a lot about the amount of work it takes to manage and run a fully-organic farm and picked up several new skills…

Dale hard at work

Dale hard at work

Me hard at work (check out my corn and my beans!)

Me hard at work (check out my corn and my beans!)

No this isn't us trying our hands at bee keeping - we were just watching the expert!

No this isn’t us trying our hands at bee keeping – we were just watching the expert!

The family here really welcomed us into their lives and took great pleasure in showing us the local wildlife (whether it was welcome or not).

Some of the nicer visitors (Koalas may look cute and cuddly but they make awful noises!)

Some of the nicer visitors (Koalas may look cute and cuddly but they make awful noises!)

Some not so welcome guests. Yes this is the horrible snake that ate the ducklings. You may not be able to see from the image, but those ants are called bull ants. They're about an inch long and have a nasty bite!

Some not so welcome guests. (Yes, this is the horrible snake that ate the ducklings.) You may not be able to see from the image, but those ants are called bull ants. They’re about an inch long and have a nasty bite!

The farm was also very close to some lovely beaches, so if we fancied it we could spend our afternoons by the sea. Although this particular beach got shut down for a few days while we were here because of a shark attack!

Lighthouse beach, Ballina

Lighthouse beach, Ballina

Ballina's famous giant prawn...

Ballina’s famous giant prawn…

After a few weeks here I have to admit I was feeling a little uncomfortable. Before we’d come to Australia we’d expected days of endless sunshine, lovely hot weather and the occasional nasty beastie. What we found in Ballina was beautiful green scenery that came with days of endless rain and grey weather and LOTS of nasty beasties (the mosquitoes were particularly bad).

This is two pictures of the same huntsman spider - the one on the left is to show you how big it is in compared to the door handle!

This is two pictures of the same huntsman spider – the one on the left is to show you how big it is in compared to the door handle!

It was almost like being back in the UK during a particularly bad summer after the seven plagues of Egypt had come to visit.

These frogs got very noisy at night!

These frogs got very noisy at night!

Luckily for us, we soon found a job that would show us a very different Australia… The outback!

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