Our first house-sitting assignment was for a work colleague of my husbands. She lived with her partner on Magnetic Island, Queensland and worked in Townsville. We eagerly replied to the notice she posted on the work noticeboard.
Magnetic Island is special to most people born and raised in Townsville. It is only 8km off-shore and is a quick and easy escape, but for a couple with a young family, it is not always readily affordable. The bonus is that there is a car ferry so you can pack up the car with anything and everything – kids, bikes, boards, toys, eskies (coolers), fishing rods – you name it, and within hours you are set up in an island paradise.
Luckily for us our offer to house-sit was accepted. At that stage in our lives we actually did not have any pets, apart from tropical fish, so we all loved the fact that we had suddenly acquired a cat and six chooks (chickens) to look after. The kids were rostered on to feed the cat and chooks and what delight – collect the eggs. We watered the garden and looked after the house as if it was our own.
We all bunked down on the floor in the family room, which the kids thought was wonderful as they normally had their own rooms. A tank full of fish, shared the family room with us – at least we were up to speed there.
How we enjoyed that impromptu holiday. We took the kids to Arcadia Bay daily, where they buried each other in the sand, climbed on the rocks, and duck-dived in the warm water looking for shells. We walked to the forts, a relic from the war, and spotted wild koalas in the gum trees along the way. Our daughter’s long held dream to ride a horse came true at Horseshoe Ranch then known as Bluey’s, and we pedalled big wheeled water trikes around Horseshoe Bay.
Since then we have house-sat for others. Once when we were visiting a work acquaintance in Port Douglas (another tropical paradise in far North Queensland) he received an urgent call to his sick son’s bedside in the south of the state. Luckily we were on the spot house-sitters for him – he greeted us in the afternoon and flew out the next morning.
While we were there we went snorkeling at Low Isles with Great Adventures. Low Isles is a great place to snorkel with children. The presence of the nearby beach is comforting when children are learning to snorkel. Mossman Gorge and the Daintree River are well within striking distance as day trips from Port Douglas as well.
We have recently renovated the bathroom and toilet in our own home in Townsville. It has a beautiful garden which we planted ourselves and enjoy looking after. Unfortunately we had a cyclone last year which felled some big trees, but it is recovering. As well I have an organic vegetable garden. As a Christmas present to ourselves we just turned our old bathtub, into a water plant and fish pond with a fountain. Alongside the decorative water plants we have planted water spinach, an Asian vegetable.
Nowadays we keep gold fish instead of tropical fish in our house aquarium, and our dog (Buffy) and cat (Willow), are both ten years old. We also have Little Chook, who provides us with eggs, when not broody, and Birdie, a Cockatiel who flew in one day many years ago and never left.
Although we live in a beautiful part of the world, where we are privileged to have the Great Barrier Reef as our offshore playground, we are eager to continue our travels and experience life in other beautiful places of the world. As we have family members to house-sit for us, we can relax knowing that pets and home are being watched over – some people are not so lucky.
We believe the only way to be a successful house-sitter is to look after the house as your own and respect the owner’s privacy as you would wish your own to be respected. I have been looking at house-sitting websites, reading blogs, and getting inspired. Instead of continually moving, getting glimpses as you go, the house-sitting experience offers the chance to have an in depth look at one area, an insight into a different lifestyle, while enjoying the comforts of home.
Now doesn’t that sound appealing?
2012 is the year we are going to start house-sitting again. Please let me know your tips for house-sitting. Which sites have you had the most luck with. Would you like us to house-sit for you?