I have been at Crystal Creek Meadows as a placement student for over a month now, and my first month here has been varied, to say the least. Not a single day of work has been the same, which I love. My role consists of spending half of my time with Sophie in ‘guest relations’, assisting her with taking bookings, answering customer enquirers, processing payments, interacting with our guests and housekeeping management of the cottages. The other half of my time I spend with Chris, who has just completing his MSc in Responsible Tourism Management, as well as being involved in other areas of tourism; and he has been able to offer me some invaluable knowledge and bring me up to speed with some of his own experiences within the industry. Together, we are in the process of putting together a business plan for the company, and from this we will be drawing out strategies in order to meet the goals and objectives of the business plan. These strategies will take the shape of various different projects that I will spend my hours with Chris putting into practice, and hopefully help to make changes for the better during my time here.
One of the projects I am involved with at the moment is an environmental education day for primary school children, where we will be inviting the children to come to the property for the day and get involved in some activities to help stimulate connectedness with the environment. We have collaborated with some local aboriginal people who will be sharing knowledge of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs with the children; the overall aim being to make us more aware of the natural environment. This is just one example of hopefully many more projects to come, and I already feel I have learnt a lot which will help me with my final year when returning back to university.
I am living with Chris and Sophie, the business owners, and their three children at their home in Kangaroo Valley. When I arrived I was made very welcome and settled into the daily routine of work and home life very quickly. I have my own room here, allowing me privacy and my own space which is important, but share all other living spaces with the others, which makes living here a little less lonely. Kangaroo Valley is possibly one of the most beautiful towns I have ever been to, and Crystal Creek Meadows itself is just as much so. The property has lots of space, with a creek, a citrus fruit orchard and many gorgeous places to relax and chill out on days off.
The social aspect of life here is limited, as the area is very rural with a small population. There is plenty of opportunities to travel to surrounding areas to experience livelier nightlife, and in my first month here I have already made a couple of friends in different places my own age. I have spent one of my weekends off in Sydney too which is only two hours away by car (and a car is provided here!).
This year in industry is a great opportunity to learn how tourism works in reality, and being here is perhaps one of the best learning curves and life experience I could ask for. If you would like more information about the placement itself, or of living in New South Wales I will be happy to answer any of your questions over email (which can be found below).