When I first came, I had no idea what to expect; I had just quit a job up in Queensland, contacted the retreat to ask if I could come two months ahead of when I originally asked, and booked a flight in a matter of two weeks. I remember wondering what my first workaway was going to be like as I got on the train down to Otford- little did I know I was going to soon meet people who would change my life and become one of my closest families away from home.
The center is absolutely gorgeous: you find yourself surrounded by nothing other than green, green, and more green. You're far away enough from Sydney that you feel really immersed in nature, but close enough to a train station to still feel connected. Nonetheless, one of my favorite parts of the day was waking up to watch the sun come over the hilltop and light up the valley.
The work was never anything other than enjoyable. While cooking in the kitchen we'd all be telling jokes and laughing together while helping create all sorts of delicious meals with the incredible chef Vijay. Of course, you'll be drooling as you do because it'll be hard to wait for the time when you get to have some yourself! While cleaning we'd play music and dance around making beds. Not once was I agonizing over the clock waiting for my shift to end- instead, I'd be waiting for the next one to come.
But then there's the people. That's the part that will change you.
While I personally needed to have time and a place to sit by myself and work through my feelings when I came, I also needed community- I just didn't know that part until I got there. By the second day I already felt like I was at home with how open and accepting the residents and other volunteers were. Together, we went on hikes, we got lost on our way to a waterfall, got giddy over vegan popsicles during our Finding Dory movie night, and dragged our yawning selves to yoga at six in the morning. We'd exchange hugs just as often as we exchanged smiles and meal time together in the tea room was never boring.
It was the people that made my experience, and that experience I had has changed me entirely. If you need a place to heal, a place to be loved, a place to do yoga and eat amazing food and get lost in nature and laugh and sing around bonfires, then there's no better place in the world to do just that than here.
So much love to everyone that I met and those still there - all of which I will see again,