Now that my 6 months in Asia has ultimately ended its time to start updating you all about my first few weeks in Australia. You will have likely noticed I’ve started a section on my blog looking to help other travellers and give back little, with various travel tips and stuff that I think people may find useful. However, I’m still going to keep writing my regular updates about what I’ve been up to on the road as well. So, keep an eye out for both.
Going back a little in time now, I met back up with Fred and Con at Bali airport in Indonesia on the 23rd of April and flew at 1 am from Bali to Cairns on the 24th of April. We actually took off around 2 am after a short delay. We, therefore, landed in Cairns Australia at 8.30 am local time to kick start our one-year working holiday visa of the country. Passing through immigration was seamless and we didn’t even speak to a human due to using the electronic systems now in place in most airports. After making our way to our hostel in Cairns called Tropic Days which was really chilled and welcoming we set about sorting our lives out for a life in Australia. First, we headed to Commonwealth bank in the centre of Cairns to open our bank accounts. We were able to get the ball rolling on this but couldn’t collect our cards and stuff right away until we got ourselves an Australian mobile number. We therefore then went to a nearby shopping centre and set up an Australian contract, before returning to the bank to finalise everything here. I had already pre-registered online so walked out with my bank card there and then. While the boys had to wait a week or so to get there’s posted to them. After this, we then went to the supermarket to buy some groceries seeing as we now needed to cook for ourselves as eating out every meal was no longer an option. Having finished our shopping we returned to the hostel and lazed about for the rest of the day after having had a poor night’s sleep on the plane. We did also register to receive our Australian Tax File Numbers online which we would need for work. (I shall probably write a blog at some point about setting yourself up in Australia to provide more information on this type of things).
The next day it was all about trying to find work, more specifically rural farm work to enable us to complete our 88 days work. Which in turn would then allow us to apply for a second-year visa if we wished. We wanted to get this out the way early to give us the option for the second year if we decide we want it but also to enable us to save up money again after having spent a lot of savings travelling Asia. We, therefore, cold called various farms and working hostels in the area for a good portion of the day but didn’t really turn up anything concrete and a lot of places were saying they wouldn’t have work for a while. On our 3rd day in Australia, we once again set about trying to find work and called more potential employers and working hostels. One of the hostels Fred phoned sounded promising and said they may have work for us the following Monday so made the decision to head there the following day. That evening then in the knowledge that we were moving on from Cairns the following day I met up with a friend from university who happened to briefly be in Cairns with her boyfriend. It was a surprise get together but great to catch up with Hannah and hear all about here recommendations and time in Aus as she was coming to the end of her 1-year working holiday visa. Halfway around the world and I’m still bumping into people I know.
On Saturday the 27th of April then we took the Greyhound bus from Cairns further south to a place called Tully, with the hope of getting some work after Fred’s short phone call the previous day. The bus journey was only a couple of hours and we arrived in Tully just before mid-day. Tully was a very small town and reminded me a lot of small-town America. To me, it was similar to the town located next to the summer camp I worked at in the united states, although probably worse. Our destination was Tully Hotel, a working hostel located in the town dedicated to finding backpackers farm work at nearby banana farms. We checked into the hostel, paid $120 (Aus Dollars) weeks rent and $300 deposit which we would get back when we left. Foolishly we did all this before even looking at where we would supposedly be living for the next 3 months. Safe to say it was a shit hole, I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to stay there. Don’t get me wrong the people who run the hostel seemed nice enough and the fellow backpackers also very nice, but just the actual condition, cleanliness and facilities of the place were horrendous. Luckily the 3 of us were in a room of 4 so were able to clean this a little ourselves. We actually chucked away a load of stuff from the previous occupant of the room who then returned to collect it after we had done so, whoops. So the room was liveable but the kitchen was something out of a nightmare, I don’t think the word clean had ever been used in that place and with about 80 people sharing 12 little hobs, no oven and 3 big fridges that surely gives you some indication to the chaos that ensued at meal time and how disgusting it was to try to make food there. Equally the toilets were just as bad with two showers and toilets for about 40 people as half the rooms had en-suites. None the less we tried to convince ourselves we could hack it for a short time while finding work then find ourselves our own place. That isn’t what happened though, after 3 nights we left! We did spend a few days in Tully ringing around various banana farms trying to find work, brought work clothes and stuff (most of which we returned before leaving) and even looked at a few houses which we could move into if we got work ourselves to save living in the working hostel. I even bumped into another friend from England, a girl named Beth who I used to work with at the Kings Head Pub in Guildford. I knew she was in Australia, but it wasn’t until we were going to Tully that I found out she was actually staying in Hotel Tully as well. It was great to catch up with her, but I don’t know how she had managed to live there for 4 weeks already and still didn’t have work, which was a bit of a red flag for us. None the less after our quick 3 days stay in Tully, officially one of the wettest places in Australia (I can confirm it pissed it down most days) we left and safe to say I won’t ever be returning.
The reason for our departure (besides it being horrendous there) is we had word of work further down the coast in a place called Ayr, this is due to having met a girl while travelling who was staying at a working hostel here letting us know that work was coming up. The hostel also looked far more appealing to live in compared to the one in Tully, so we decided to chance it and leave Tully and made the 4 hours bus ride down to Ayr which is an hour south of Townsville. The working hostel we moved to was called Ayr Backpackers and was far nicer than the one in Tully. We moved into our own little 12-bed house thing with kitchen and bathroom. Very much like a university hall of residents that people live in during there first year of university. It also has a communal pool and other such entertainment: table tennis, basketball net and volleyball court. The town of Ayr itself is also much better with far more shops to choose from and the weather is much better too. So overall, we were glad we moved location. Now we just needed work. We arrived at Ayr backpacker on Tuesday the 30th of April a week after arriving in Australia and ended up waiting another week to start work. In that time, we did go a little crazy struggling with ways to entertain ourselves. Fred and I at one point even ended up listening to old Christian songs we used to sing in school assemblies, don’t ask why! I was able to write a few blogs plus edit my video for Asia but overall it was a little boring waiting around. We were, however, waiting in a far more comfortable environment and everyone here was so friendly. Fred actually started work on Friday the 3rd of May but only had a couple of hours a day, while Con and I had to wait until the 8th of May to start.
I spent two days picking watermelons at a nearby farm for 6 hours a day. The work was tough as expected but not to bad and once I get into it again after having had 6 months off I shall be fine. The group of us on the farm ended up packing 76 boxes of watermelons in the two days which as you can imagine is a lot of watermelons. Basically, there were 4 lads who walk out in the field rummaging for the melons on the ground. When you find them you then toss them along the row to the farmer by the tractor who then tosses them to two girls on the tractor who place them in the boxes, while another girl drives the tractor. Fair play to the farmer for getting involved and helping as opposed to just sitting there and barking orders. Unfortunately, I was in the worst position right next to the farmer meaning not only did I have to pick the melons like everyone else but also then had to catch and throw down the line every other melon that the 3 other lads had picked next to me. It was relentless, and we did 4 runs each day which lasted about an hour or so each.
Although the work was good, and I would be happy to continue doing it, unfortunately, I only had two days work as we picked all the ripe melons. I am now, therefore, writing this on my day off. Grateful to have a day off to ease in gently as my god do I ache, but hoping come Monday I can start work full time on a regular basis otherwise my 88 days is going to take forever which I don’t want. Fred on the other hand started by doing like 3 hours a day picking zucchini which although not great hours is every day and the hours have now increased to 5 hours a day after they took fewer people to the farm. Con, on the other hand, is working on a farm all by himself planting seeds and stuff and has worked the longest days of about 8-9 hours which has certainly warn him out. But both can’t complain as they have regular work, which is more than I can say right now, but fingers crossed come Monday that will all change. However, there is the possibility of some bad weather which may throw that into disrepute a little I guess I shall just have to wait and see and hope for the best.
That now brings everyone up to date with our first 2 and a half weeks in Aus. We haven’t really seen much of Australia or done much in the places we have been as we came here with the intention of getting farm work and getting our 88 days done straight away like I previously mentioned. So, the adventures won’t be too regular for a little while until we plan to start a big road trip down to Melbourne sometime in August. Provided all goes well with the farm work. I will, however, keep you updated on any developments regarding the farm work and how I’m finding this over the next few months. I also aim to post more blogs relating to my travel tips I mentioned earlier. So, although it is certainly still an adventure and I’m sure the next 3 months will be memorable it may be a little longer between updates seeing as hopefully, all I shall be doing is picking fruit and vegetable on farms. Regardless I’ll be sure to update you.