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12 ◆ MANJIMUP-BRIDGETOWN TIMES
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2009
PON entering the Middlesex
property of wood furniture
makers Claire and John
Mitchell you get a good feeling about
Nestled among hundreds of blue
gums, it communicates that you are in
a vast area of the Australian
countryside — and it is complemented
by a true, friendly country spirit: the
hospitality experienced is second to
none and it is even displayed by the
Four sociable dogs bark in approval
and clamber to greet each new visitor
Behind them is the lady of the house,
Claire, with a welcome hot cuppa and
a piece of homemade cake.
When the Manjimup-Bridgetown
Times visited the Mitchell’s 10ha
Middlesex tree plantation recently,
Claire and John were hosts to three
sturdy and polite young men who were
more than ready, willing and able to
undertake any task thrown at them.
Jamie Creighton-Harland, of North
Yorkshire, England, Andreas Duschl,
of Bavaria, Germany, and Steven
Gonzalez, of Brittany, France, were
just three of the hundreds of intrepid
travellers who have taken up odd jobs
for the Mitchells from tasks like
gardening and housework to the hard
yakka of cutting and splitting wood or
sanding and sorting in the couple’s
solid wood furniture-making
The Mitchells, along with their three
travelling guests, are part of a special
They have experienced what
thousands around the world of all ages
and backgrounds seeking adventure
and variety have done — they have
logged into a specialised cultural
exchange website, www.helpex.net, to
match up working holiday makers
looking to experience life abroad with
local people who provide life skills and
experiences through short-term
volunteer work in exchange for food
The majority of listings include a
variety of host farms, both organic and
non-organic, farmstays, homestays,
ranches, lodges and bed and breakfast
Claire and John Mitchell offer a friendly home away from home free to travellers such as Jamie Creighton-Harland, Andreas Duschl and Steven Gonzalez
in exchange for volunteer work on their Middlesex property.
The options appear limitless to the
type of work and accommodation
offered, but one thing these encounters
all share in common — an experience
like no other where participants get to
immerse themselves in a culture
unfamiliar to their own and the
potential to make life-long friendships.
Claire and John happily work
alongside their guests on the farm,
teaching skills in conversational
English when required while having a
good yarn about each other’s life
And, just for the record, the women
are never asked to do ‘‘anything Claire
cannot do’’, which judging from her
healthy appearance, leaves few
It’s all challenging toil, but no-one is
forced to work beyond their ability.
Like their predecessors, the boys only
have to work four hours a day and they
get a roof over their heads, three square
meals a day, internet access, the use of
a vehicle and, as an added bonus,
Claire will even do their laundry — a
deal far better than paying bills and rent
in the real world.
Claire and John’s profile on the
website is pretty much spot on and
when you are greeted by them, what
you see is what you get — a big smile
and a happy attitude, which is also a
strict prerequisite for guests, along
with a sense of fun and adventure.
‘‘Attitude is much more important
than aptitude,’’ Claire said. ‘‘And 99
per cent of our experiences with our
guests have been positive.’’
Jamie, Andreas and Steven all agree
that travelling the world this way
means far more than just a cheap travel
option and free meal ticket, it’s a lifechanging and enriching experience.
‘‘You have a chance to live and learn
another culture that it becomes a way
of life,’’ Jamie said.
‘‘And we get to experience a culture
that’s different to ours in return,’’
added John, who after having more
than 300 travellers stay and work with
him and his wife over the past seven
years, recalls that the best experience
is witnessing people exit their comfort
zones and come out of their shells,
something they would not have done
if they had not participated in a help
‘‘Our guests also become very selfsufficient over time,’’ John said.
Many travellers who sign the guest
book upon leaving have nothing but
praise for the friendly hospitality
offered by the couple at their home
away from home, plus one small
comfort that requires nothing in return
from either party — a sense of family
when you are such a long way from
❛ You have a
chance to live and
culture that it
becomes a way of
— Jamie Creighton-Harland
Community Services Directory
APEX CLUB OF MANJIMUP
Meets 1st and 3rd Friday of each month.
Phone William Green 9771 1373
MACEDONIAN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Ipsen Street West. Hall for hire.
Contact Nick Velios 9771 1999.
MANJIMUP CHILD FAMILY HEALTH CENTRE
Meets 3rd Wednesday each month 7.30pm at
Health Clinic Rooms.
Contact Clinic: 9771 1120 or Secretary 0439 750 669.
NETWORK WARREN BLACKWOOD
If you are 16 or over, live in the Warren Blackwood
region & have a disability... Network Warren Blackwood
offers you the opportunity to meet people & make new
FREE LEGAL ADVICE - MANJIMUP & BRIDGETOWN MANJIMUP CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
friends, participate in personal development training &
Phone Bunbury Community Legal Centre
Meetings 1 Wednesday of the month.
MANJIMUP FINANCIAL COUNSELLING SERVICE try new recreational activities. Contact Lisa 9761 1775.
FREECALL 1800 999 727
Contact Rose Moyle 9771 2316.
Budgeting assistance, counselling by
appointment. Contact Julia on 9777 1945.
MANJIMUP FAMILY CENTRE
CWA MANJIMUP BRANCH
RSL MANJIMUP 16 BROCKMAN STREET
Playgroups: Tues, Wed Thurs, parenting advice,
Meets 4th Wednesday, 1.30pm CWA Centre,
Hall Hire: 9777 1875. President: Rex Brown
1ST MANJIMUP SCOUTS GROUP
Buzz group for women, toy and parenting
0427 771 875. John Crook 0408 931 849.
Contact Mrs M. Barton 9773 1224.
resource libraries, music groups, short courses
SHIRE OF MANJIMUP COMMUNITY BUS
Scouts Thurs 6pm Contact Dave Allen 9776 7276
with creche - 9771 1653.
4th Saturday of the month and
Manjimup Volunteer & Resource Centre
MANJIMUP FARMER’S MARKET
9777 2774 Mon - Fri 9am - 3pm www.manjimup.org.au
New Year’s Eve, venue at Dingup Hall.
Buy fresh. Buy local. 3 Saturday of each month.
MANJIMUP WARREN MASONIC LODGE
ST JOHN AMBULANCE - MANJIMUP SUB CENTRE
LIONS CLUB OF MANJIMUP
Round House Timber Park.
Contact James Craven 9773 1012
For First Aid Classes. Contact Geoff Aldersea
1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7pm.
or Roy Stubberfield 9771 1274
9777 1484, mob 0427 771 484.
Contact Jim M’Glinn 9771 1580 AH 0407 389 880. Phill 9772 4989, Beth 9772 3555.
UNIVERSITY OF THE 3RD AGE
Meetings held every 2nd Thursday of the month in the
RSL Hall at 2pm. Enquiries 9771 8000 or 9773 1226.
VOLUNTEER & RESOURCE CENTRE
Internet, Admin Serv, Room Hire & Volunteer Referrals.
Mon - Fri 9am-3pm. 45 Rose Street, Manjimup.
9777 2774. www.manjimup.org.au
WARREN DISTRICT AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
2010 Show 12th & 13th March.
Contact Ethel 9776 6175 or 0418 930 971
Would you like to advertise
your club or group?
Phone Sue 9771 1065