'WWOOFING' hits the Downs

Lea Koesters and Anna Rademacher, German backpackers on a Ravensbourne avocado farm for WWOOF program. Photo Dave Noonan / The Chronicle
Lea Koesters and Anna Rademacher, German backpackers on a Ravensbourne avocado farm for WWOOF program. Photo Dave Noonan / The Chronicle Dave Noonan

WAKING up to the sound of bird calls and the smell of fresh coffee, tending to a small herd of cattle and spending the afternoon plucking organic avocadoes before a sumptuous home-cooked dinner.

This is how German backpackers Lea Koesters and Anna Rademacher will spend the next two weeks on the Darling Downs.

The duo has joined a growing number of international travellers working their way through the region on small organic farms, trading labour for a warm bed, delicious meals and a slice of the Australian lifestyle.

It is called WWOOFING (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) and it is sweeping the nation.

"We want to see as much of the real Australian lifestyle as we can," Ms Rademacher said.

"Staying in backpacker hostels is a lot of fun and you meet people from all over the world, but it makes it hard to get to know the real Australian way of life."

The international WWOOFING program was founded in the 1980s and more than 13,000 backpackers are on the bandwagon in Australia.

The pair's hosts, Allan and Anna Lahey, have opened their Ravensbourne avocado orchard to travellers for the past two years.

"Anna and I first tried WWOOFING on our honeymoon in Thailand," Mr Lahey said.

"As hosts, we get a lot of benefits.

"Because we're organic, it takes a lot more manual work to get to harvest and those extra hands are really important.

"There are quite a few small farms and orchards around the Lockyer Valley and towards Stanthorpe doing WWOOFING.

"Some people we never hear from again; others become great friends and we stay in contact."

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