Monday, 18 April 2011


So, I have just finished six weeks of Conservation Volunteers Australia. I will begin with...

Week 1: Upon my arrival in North Geelong, one of the most zombie-apocalypse type places on Earth, I made friends with a nineteen year old girl from Liverpool who did the same A-Levels as me, and likes the same TV shows. This was unbelievably lucky. A group of us went with our team leader, Mr. Darcy (his actual name, he insisted we call him Michael but whatever) to Bimbi Park Caravan site down the Great Ocean Road, which is full of koalas. We dug a trail through the rainforest, which was amazing; dressed like a combination of Indiana Jones and Bob the Builder. I spent a lot of time being bitten by mosquitoes and pulling leeches from my socks.

Week 2: Just me and Ellie from Liverpool in the CVA house that week, which meant a lot of eating food and watching television. We went to the Serendip wildlife sanctuary to rabbit-proof a fence with a load of old men. That was the week when I encountered a wolf spider and learnt that I have absolutely no upper-body strength.

Week 3: A group of us went to Camperdown, to stay in another caravan site in little cabins. After weeding various gardens in the area, we went sightseeing and saw the Twelve Apostles. My favourite day that week was when we went to do some planting at a local secondary school, and got a tour of the school by an apparently legendary retired teacher, who had a garden planted in the school in his honour.

Week 4: Possibly the best week of CVA. Went to Hamilton, a small town in the middle of nowhere, to work on the farm of what were probably the world's richest Australian farmers. They had an amazing farmhouse, and let us stay one night in their incredible holiday home in the Grampians, which had two enormous 'cottages' and their own private lake. We broke all CVA rules by going fishing on the lake and drinking alcohol. We had Andrew as our team leader this time, and he was a bit like Stephen Fry in the sense that he knew lots about lots of different things.

Week 5: Stayed in Hamilton, saying goodbye to Ellie-from-Liverpool who finished CVA. Spent the week with a twenty-nine year old Spanish vet called Yolanda who seemed to eat only fruit and vegetables. We went with our new team leader to rake various playgrounds around Hamilton and spread mulch. I spent most of the time in Hamilton library, to the point where two days before I was due to leave they actually offered me library membership.

Week 6: Yolanda left, and two nineteen-year-old guys came to the Hamilton house, one from Wales and the other from Belgium. This was possibly the most fun I had in the CVA house because they were completely insane and managed to break the clock and the fridge by playing sport indoors. One night we played Murder in the Dark. Pierre from Belgium ate more than I have ever seen a human being eat. The work was weeding around the wetlands in the rain, which was a bit cold and miserable. I was pretty happy to leave Hamilton because there wasn't much to do as everything seemed to close on the weekends.

Phew. Now I'm in Sydney, staying in a youth hostel, which is turning out to be very, very cool even though the only friends I've made so far are some guys from LA who left this morning. I won a free t-shirt hermit crab racing, a sentence I never thought I'd be able to say. I've realised that until the 7th May when I start volunteering at the Sydney Writer's Festival I have absolutely no responsibilities other than not to spend all of my money. Little scary but good.


Harry Graham said...

Exciting. What does one do at a Writer's Festival besides write?

owleer said...

I am insanely jealous! everything you're doing sounds amazing! Also it is clearly no coincidence that you encountered a Mr Darcy on the other side of the hemisphere. LOL this is really random but i just had an image of us being in one of Miss Catton's english classes doing P+P and you going 'i met Mr Australia' and her going something like 'that's nice Anne.'
Oh good times!
Anyway enjoy the rest of your trip!

Anne said...

Harry: I think I'm meant to be 'ushering' people. Or something.

Liz: I miss Miss Catton's English classes :( I would definitely tell her about Mr. Darcy!

Post a Comment