Aussie spirit - Burekup community takes in backpackers during coronavirus crisis

Shannon VerhagenSouth Western Times
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Backpackers Silvia Guidotti, Maria Hiriart and Segolene Leroux have been working on farms in exchange for accomodation in Burekup during the coronavirus crisis.
Camera IconBackpackers Silvia Guidotti, Maria Hiriart and Segolene Leroux have been working on farms in exchange for accomodation in Burekup during the coronavirus crisis. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Shannon Verhagen

While coronavirus closures and restrictions hit West Aussies hard, they also threw a spanner in the works for backpackers visiting and working in the State, many of whom were in regional areas.

For Silvia Guidotti, Segolene Leroux and Maria Hiriart — hailing from Germany, France and Chile, respectively — the hospitality of country WA helped them put a roof over their heads in a trying time.

With jobs few and far between and accommodation options dwindling, they took to living on farms and working for accommodation and food.

The trio have spent the past few weeks in Burekup picking fruit, fixing fences, gardening and doing odd jobs, with Ms Guidotti living in the small farming community since March.

“We’d be lost without these people,” Ms Guidotti said.

We rely on the generosity of the Australians and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have a place to stay — even the hostels were closing down, camping places...everything was shutting down.

Silvia Guidotti

“People were really welcoming – really nice and warm,” Ms Leroux said.

With pubs and restaurants forced to close, Burekup farmer Clay Rose has had to give away all of his limes this season due to lack of demand, each week donating 300kg to Foodbank.
Camera IconWith pubs and restaurants forced to close, Burekup farmer Clay Rose has had to give away all of his limes this season due to lack of demand, each week donating 300kg to Foodbank. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

And the feeling was mutual, with the Burekup community expressing gratitude for the girl’s help during a difficult period.

“It’s been great having them around,” Burekup resident John Waters, who is housing them, said. “They’re great girls and really good workers.”

The trio recently helped local farmer Clay Rose pick 300kg of limes he could not sell due to hospitality industry shutdowns to donate to Foodbank.

“If it wasn’t for these girls I wouldn’t have been able to get this done today,” he said.

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