On Monday morning last week I awoke pre 7am to get to the station for my train and then coach to Griffith – a small town in the middle of nothingness. The plan being to arrive and then try and find work asap. What with my super busy month of travelling, I hadn’t really had time to plan what I was actually going to do when the month was over, so it was a rather hurried plan involving booking a bus ticket and calling a hostel to check they had rooms. So it was with some apprehension that I headed out on the 10 hour journey, with funds back down to a super low level, work was needed rather imminently – and this was part of the reason for heading rural rather than heading to another city, as living costs whilst job hunting would be much lower. I was also hoping to avoid working in sales/an office again and had seen lots of adverts saying Griffith had lots of opportunities for farm/fruit picking work.
The name of my hostel ‘Shearers Quarters’ was a good prelude to my arrival, with the hope of many backpackers staying there for work and lots of opportunities, but it’s impossible to actually know until you arrive.
Arriving was a bit weird – the hostel is a working-hostel so many of the people have been there several months and so have formed their friendship groups. I also found out the hostel owner doesn’t commonly accept Brits especially not males, as apparently we have a bad reputation – so I was one of a handful of Brits amongst a load of Europeans. I hadn’t quite realised how remote this place was having booked it so last minute, so following my swift pick up from the station to the hostel I only had half a bag of rice with me. Therefore it was a pretty basic dinner, but people were friendly and gave me bits of actual food to supplement it!
Day one was a very empty day for me, there is literally nothing to do out here other than work and as I’d arrived the previous evening the owner hadn’t sorted anything – in fact I hadn’t even met him! He turned out to be an okay guy, but a bit almost bi-polar in being nice one minute then flipping out ten minutes later. On day two I was woken up at ten to eight to let me know I needed to be ready to leave for work at 8, notice evidently wasn’t the priority. I asked what the work was, ie what should I wear, and apparently it was packing so just t-shirt and shorts would be fine.
Turns out it wasn’t packing, but broccoli picking outside in the heat, with a fair few thistly plants amongst the growth. The work was fine though, lots of mindless chopping and throwing onto the back of the trailer and luckily I managed to get some suncream before the afternoon sun set in properly. There were only three Europeans working the farm amongst Taiwanese people and wow they work quickly! We just about managed to keep up with them, but they were relentless at it. The guy managing it was happy though and said that they’d need us for the rest of the week – 7 till 7 out on the fields, but it would quickly add up in terms of wages. So my alarm went off at 5:45 the next day to get me on the bus out to the farm and we started chopping again, more prepared in my dress and ignoring the aches in my body from the ten hours the previous day, when after only 2 hours disaster stuck. The heavens opened. And when it rains they can’t pick as the tractors get stuck to easily, so that was it for the day.
In fact that was it for the rest of the week as the rain continued until the weekend. It was then that I realised that the country life wasn’t going to be for me. There was literally nothing to do other than hang around the hostel and whilst I enjoy the odd day watching movies, when there’s little else to do it tires quickly. So I messaged my friend Lilly up in Brisbane and sorted myself getting up there. When the weekend came round typically it brightened up, but the picking wasn’t running at the weekend so more time to now sunbathe and yes watch more movies. We did head out both evenings as there wasn’t much to get up for in the mornings so I did bond with the people there and it was a bit sad to be saying bye just as I was getting to know them, but to be honest I was more excited to just get back to civilisation.
I left last night just after 1am for a hike down through the forest to the bus stop to get the overnight bus to Melbourne where I have had a fun day re-seeing some of the best bits with Kirstie. Arriving off the train at 9am this morning and being greeted by the noise of Melbourne station, the flashes of the giant screens and the multiple little coffee bars was bliss and maybe I’m more a city boy than I realised.
So I’m now shooting up to Brisbane to meet Lilly and the girls who are hosting me these next few days until I get myself sorted, I have a house viewing tomorrow which should hopefully go well and a load of job applications have been sent off. Apparently tonight were headed out for some drinks; I’m running on about 4 hours sleep and currently about 4 coffees so we’ll see how long until I crash!
So my little rural experience may have cost me a fair amount of cash, (I would have broken even if not for the two days rain!), but I’m not viewing it as a mistake as I now better appreciate the humble broccoli and how it reaches our table. That and the fact I’m not big on the rural farming life.