Nicola Martin, 22 from Ireland.
A volunteer on a stud farm in Scone
What made you come to Australia?
I had just graduated from university and decided to come to Australia before I tried to look for a “career”.
What is it that you do?
Everyday revolved around the horses. We’d get up in the morning and head straight to the stud to take off the rugs and open the paddocks. The mucking out has to be done first thing. All of the foals need to be fed and watered. We do a hay run then around the farm. In the afternoon all the horses who are in work need to be exercised. We either go riding or play polo to get the beginner horses used to the game. Before we head home all the horses need to be rugged, fed and watered again.
How does it compare to what you did at home?
It is completely different to anything I had ever done before. I had never been horse riding before I began working at the stud. The experience was incredible and I learnt a huge amount of new skills, including how to change a tyre!
What are the good points?
I got to wake up every day and spend the day with true Australians in the bush working with horses. It’s a million miles away from Dublin, and everything I am used to but it is something I will remember forever. Hopefully one day I’ll stop smelling like horse poo!
Are there any bad points?
It is difficult being thrown into a situation you know nothing about. There is no time for whinging or complaining, you suck it up and get on with it.
And how do you cope not earning money?
We were very fortunate that our food and accommodation were taken care of so the money was not a problem.
Advice for other travellers?
Confirm the farm is in a regional postcode if you are hoping to apply for a second year working holiday visa. Otherwise, trust your instincts.
Where have you travelled so far, and where are you heading next?
We spent three months in Sydney, four in Brisbane and three in Scone with the horses. We got to spend three weeks at the Gold Coast for the yearling (foal) sales which was fantastic. An all expenses paid trip to surfers paradise was a definite highlight! We have spent most of the year working so we are spending the next month travelling from Fraser Island to Cairns and everywhere in between, we hope to do Uluru and Perth before we head back home for Christmas.
Why would you recommend volunteering to others?
If anyone was considering working on the farm I would tell them to go for it. The experience is incredible. It is not easy, the work is difficult and it stinks! Working with such incredible animals everyday though is fairly fantastic. I think of all the things I have done here in Australia this time thought me the most and pushed me to my limits which is what you want when you are backpacking. The year is about making the most out of what you have and learning/doing things you wouldn’t normally do. A stint in Scone will not do you any harm – suck it up and get shovelling!