Having surfaced from Mount Gambia’s sinkhole gardens (previous blog post #71) and cramped east over the state border into Victoria, L decided to scan Gumtree for casual jobs in our locality. It had been almost five months since we’d worked three weeks in Queensland. Since then, us and the Crampervan had traversed tens of thousands of kilometres over everything from dry river beds to flowing river crossings, sand and salt plains of outback deserts to coastal sand dunes and not forgetting those flat roads for as far as is visible. Those Queensland dollars had long dried up but with some time to spare before needing to be back in Sydney to sell the Crampervan, we found ourselves headed for a family farm in the Wando Vale, Victoria.

Despite having only known our new employers for just over a week, L and I found ourselves waving goodbye to the young family of five from the inside of their home… we were farm sitting for the next five days! Duties included: Looking after the dogs, chickens, collecting the eggs, picking the fruit from their extensive veggie garden and mowing the lawn. The optional duty of “accidentally” leaving open the wire door to the budgie’s outdoor enclosure wasn’t something L or myself could bring ourselves to do. The little birds had been a recent surprise 4th birthday present from grandparents to granddaughter, resulting in parents being as equally surprised as grandchild.

L and I found house sitting to be a very relaxed affair in the land of Oz. Seemingly many Aussie's leave their houses open and the key to their vehicles in the ignition. We were a little concerned that our room was too far out of ear shot for any cat burglars that may walk straight in through the front door. So we went to remedy the situation only to find that the key to the door was stuck in the lock, turnable but not removable, on the outside of the door! This would be the least of our home security concerns. Around the back, a fly mesh door led straight in from the outside to a room L referred to as the walk in armoury. In fact this quirky room had once been the farm house kitchen but when the new kitchen extension had been built, the old one had been left untouched and frozen in time ever since. Now the old range cooker and retro work surfaces were being used as a shell reloading production line and everything you’d expect to be housed inside a gun cabinet, looked to be living, well… everywhere else.

Our stay at the farm made a great start to our time in Victoria, the family we're super friendly and hospitable and when they were back, the farm house buzzed with life from anytime after 6am. It was no surprise that the three mini’s were early risers (this we’d already been told) but what did surprise us was waking up to the smell of fresh baking pre 7am! L was delighted. Most days L and I could be found somewhere in a field fixing up an endless amount of fencing and to use as a runaround, we’d been loaned ‘Suzie’, an old Suzuki which L had aptly named. Suzie took us down to the lake one Sunday afternoon to try our luck at fishing but with an absence of luck it was looking like L might need to accept that by the end of our trip, he may have circumnavigated Australia without catching a single fish on his $15 Kmart telescopic rod…

With Christmas just around the corner, L and I thought we’d tag along on a trip to see Father Christmas. The man of the hour was making a special appearance for the local kids at the community centre and in true Aussie fashion he rocked up on none other, than a fire engine!  

Prior to Christmas there was a certain occasion to confront. Turning 30 wasn’t something I’d been looking forward to. In fact I’d have rather swept it under the rug but with no space for rugs in the Crampervan, I conceded in doing something to mark the occasion…

We were off to the Grampians National Park for fizz, birthday cake, birthday wishes from friendly wallabies and a certain amount of hiking for some amazing mountain views.