How did I end up here? Well, I was broke.
I had four weeks left in my backpacking trip across Australia before I would be flying out from Brisbane to Los Angeles.
In Brisbane, I was staying at Laura’s house – a dear friend and my third grade teacher. I was about half way through my experience down under when I realized that all the beers and avocados had quickly soaked up the remaining cash in my bank account.
After cooking up a delicious breakfast of fresh eggs from the backyard, I plopped my ass down in front of my laptop. It was time to look for a work exchange in the Whitsundays before I would have to cut my trip short, or beg along Southbank.
My mother had always talked about the Whitsunday Islands as this magical place she had visited back in the early 90s, just before she got pregnant with me. Bleach, white sand and water so clear you can see the ocean floor – I knew I had to see it with my own eyes.
As I scrolled through the Workaway website – my fingers crossed hoping something amazing would manifest – I was presented with only two options:
- To nanny two young children
- To garden…naked
I applied to both. I mean, I didn’t think I’d go for the nudist option, but as a Virgo, I had to weigh my options.
Two days later, my anxiety rose when I realized I had 24 hours to confirm something and the only people who had gotten back to me were the nudists. Their message was full of joy, and thankfully, did not raise any red flags. They even sent a photo (clothed!) – an older couple who owned a spa along Airlie Beach and a small farm just outside the strip in Proserpine.
I could always stay in Brisbane longer, I thought. Ride out the stay and find some work online to hold me over. But my heart ached thinking of missing the Whitsundays.
I gave myself the 24 hours to decide.
I took Laura’s kids out for the day to enjoy the sun and ice cream along downtown South Bank. We returned home, my heart full of hope (and anxiety), only to find a stale inbox.
“Here goes nothing”.
I replied with my flight details and was told I would be picked up in a pink van.
Landing in Proserpine was like landing in the middle of a crop field. The airport is just a waiting room engulfed by sugarcane and humidity. I grabbed my 40L backpack and paced outside, frantically scanning the parking lot for a pink van (like I could miss it), when suddenly an older gentleman walked up next to me.
Nerves tensed my smile.
“I’m Mike. Welcome to Proserpine”, he replied in a thick British accent, embracing me in a hug.
I took a deep breath and climbed into the pink van parked on the main road.
As we drove past vast fields of sugar cane and wildlife, I was bug eyed taking in the scenery, excited to finally see the countryside of Australia.
We pulled down a small side street off the main highway. Rows and rows of sugarcane. Maybe my luck had run out. My life would end in a pink van. Suddenly a grand iron gate appeared leading us down a winding driveway to a bungalow.
As I stepped into the house, breathing out the anxiety that had been sitting with me all morning, I went to grab some water and was caught off guard.
“Okay, so just strip down, give me your passport to get you signed in, and I’ll give you a tour of the property.”
Like now? Now, now? I have to get naked right NOW?
I was not ready. Not to mention this old guy was the only person I had seen so far. My heart started to race. Have I been scammed into some old man’s kink house?!
Suddenly a few young girls and a young guy walked into the kitchen in robes, and began making lunch. They politely introduced themselves, while taking their robes off and laying them on the back of the chairs neatly tucked into the kitchen table. All French. What a confidence.
I took a deep breath.
“Okay, I’ll be right back.”
I walked over to the bed I had claimed at the back of the house, surrounded by windows that looked out onto the beautiful farm. I slowly pulled off my t-shirt and my leggings. I unclipped my bra (free the nipple!) but froze as I went to take off my underwear. Tears started to well up. I violently wiped them away.
I just couldn’t do it.
I walked back to the main room, my head hanging low.
“Time of the month,” I lied through my teeth.
We began our tour of the property. A rainwater filtered pool, a few caravans for private accommodation close to the entry gate, and extra bunkers on the other side of the farm. The house was surrounded by a tall, dense forest of trees, sugarcane, and a yard thriving with plants and wildlife. I instantly took a liking to the place, even though I was walking around outside with no clothes on.
When we returned inside, he gave me the daily schedule:
7AM – 10AM: Farm work
10AM – 10:30AM: Breakfast
10:30AM – 12PM: More farm work
And Sundays were free. I could take a day off as long as I asked in advance. Pretty typical stuff.
I would start the next morning.
I unpacked, got friendly with the crew of Frenchies staying onsite, and read my book.
As the day went on, I realized I loved being naked. Nobody was actually looking at my body. They were looking me in the eye. I was the creep because I would catch myself staring all the time (I mean, so many different bodies!), but it was my insecurities taking over. I was comparing myself, wondering what they were thinking of me, wondering why I don’t look a certain way, anxious about my fear of being completely naked. completely vulnerable.
In reality, no one gave a shit. Only I did.
By the end of the day, I had settled in quite a bit and decided I would wake up and let my undies fly.
My first day on the farm began. I was up early, coffee in hand, ready to get to the field—with clothes on, of course. Nobody wants a tick in an uncomfortable place. I was surprised by how much I started enjoying my early mornings. I was digging, pruning, and picking flowers. Only once did I have a mildly scary showdown with a wallaby.
Fast forward two weeks later, I had proudly adjusted to my nudist life. After gardening work, you would find me swimming, writing, and reading outside with my exposed skin tanning under the blazing sun. Some of that skin had never seen the sun. One time I even opened the door to the mailman naked. I reflected on this later realizing he didn’t seem surprised at all by my lack of attire.
On Sundays I would catch an early ride with Mike’s wife to the salon in Airlie Beach. I would walk the strip, browse the book store (hoping every week the selection would improve), and enjoy flat whites and vegan specialties while writing on patios.
I felt kind of invincible.
I was free from the constraints of clothing, the annoying amount of time I would spend choosing my clothing for the day, and simply not giving much care to the extra pounds around my waist.
I felt free, and the most beautiful I had felt. Ever.
I was becoming more in tune with myself, and appreciating every inch of me – even after 6 months in India devouring paranthas dripping in ghee, washed down with sugary chai.
I was no longer scared of my body. I was accepting my shape, noticing the beauty in every unique dimple, freckle, and stretch mark.
Three weeks after my arrival, it was time for my departure to visit friends in Cairns. I couldn’t believe I had spent three weeks naked on a farm. I saved hundreds of dollars exchanging my time and energy for food and accommodation. I connected with amazing people whom I had now shared a very unique experience with. I got to cruise the Whitsunday Islands and skydive over the Great Barrier Reef.
When I think back to moments that have defined me and helped shape my confidence, I think back to my days as a nude farmer in Australia.
About Jazzmine Raine
Jazzmine leads from a background of over 10 years in project management, social impact, and experiential education. She is the proud founder of Hara House, India’s first zero waste guesthouse and tourism organization, and has been recognized globally for her work in the sustainable tourism sector.
Her diverse career has spanned across multiple countries with a strategic focus on providing young people the tools and knowledge needed to solve global challenges. With a love for storytelling and leading social impact, she thrives when coaching students and young professionals in leading new, innovative ideas.
Jazzmine has been a key leader in many unique social projects such as Causeartist, Sustainable Travel Network, Studio.89, CanGap and Hara World. In her spare time, you will find her writing short stories and drinking chai on her balcony at 8000ft in the Himalayas.
You can read all stories under the ‘Passport Perspectives’ Travel Column here.