We arrived in Australia with a plan.
We would wind down in Surfers Paradise for a week while looking for jobs in Brisbane, then in December we’d road trip down to Sydney for Christmas on the beach and New Year at the harbour, before going down further south to Melbourne to work and save up for more travel around Oz.
Within five days, we were offered a job just outside Sydney. It would be on a two-week trial after which we could decide to leave – it was at a racing yard which is a little out of my comfort zone, and very much out of Ash’s (even though he wouldn’t be working directly with the horses). We weighed up the pros and cons, and worked out that even if we only did the two weeks, it would more than pay for our return flights; we’d come back in two weeks with extra money either way.
Then our plans were a little scuppered. Before our two weeks were up, it was announced that the boss would be going away until the first week of July – and things were up in the air regarding us being paid and managerial decisions.
We’re going to be trapped here for another month, we thought.
You see, it wasn’t that the job was that terrible. The hours were long – 5am to 5.30pm with a 3 hour break after 6 hours non stop work – but I could cope with that. And the pay was awful – $400 a week for 6 days work on those hours, but accommodation was included (and there was no wifi). But the way we were treated made everyone miserable, and it was a horrible atmosphere to work in.
So I decided to do the right thing. I spoke to the manager and asked what would happen if we wanted to leave while the owner was away, or could we arrange a date in advance? We were essentially fired on the spot, and everyone was in uproar.
I managed to speak to the owner the day before he left, and explained that there had been a misunderstanding. He said that unless we commit for a good period of time, there was no point keeping us as they might as well get someone in who would want to stay.
Don’t make me laugh. He proposed that we stay until the middle of July; six weeks seemed a reasonable amount of time to ask. You are probably thinking the same. At this point, we were living with ten other people and only one of them had been there longer than three weeks. Six weeks, therefore, actually sounded like an eternity.
I counter-proposed staying until he returns from holiday. We shook hands.
Two weeks later, a friend in the house was applying for jobs elsewhere as he was desperate to leave. Ash and another friend, Sam, were quite happy to go with him. Why? Because there were only four of them doing a job that five people had been doing, with 20 extra stables, and they had been told they’d be fired if they didn’t speed up to the same as before.
So our friend found some farm jobs in a town none of us had ever heard of, Mildura. We told the manager that we were thinking of leaving – and he told us we could work the rest of the day and leave tomorrow. This time, I didn’t even care. We had wanted to stay a few more days, but why stay somewhere you’re not even appreciated?
I’ll point out that my replacement left after one day.
It was a miserable place to work, and a lot of very bad things have happened there which I’m not going to talk about on here (at least not yet) because they are so bad that we have all reported them.
So, after a day exploring Sydney, we set off in a virtually brand new Jeep in the opposite direction to Queensland, towards Adelaide.
We turned it into a four day “road trip” encompassing a night camping in the Blue Mountains, the discovery of a place called Batman Park, a barbecue in Canberra (because what else is there to do there?!), various stops in cute towns stuck in the 1950’s, and finally arriving in Adelaide.
Unfortunately, in-keeping with our trend of barely seeing the cities, we spent an afternoon there before heading off again in a new car to Mildura – stopping in Port Adelaide for an incredible sunset.
And here we are. Seven weeks later, we’re still here, with no wifi, desperately trying to save up money to leave by working inconsistent farm jobs – from vine pulling (the worst) to packing mandarins to picking pumpkins. We didn’t even plan to get our second year visas, but at this point we might as well!
So that’s it. Three months in Australia and all of our plans have been changed. I’ve been to Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide but barely scratched the surface of any of the cities.
We are now planning a road trip through the outback to get back to Queensland; something I’d never considered doing. We’ve met an amazing British guy (Sam told me to say that) who we’re probably going to spend the majority of our time in Australia with.
We may even end up dragging our Japanese room mate away with us when we finally leave Mildura because she’s crazy and awesome.
I will blog about our experiences here soon – but I at least needed to post an update on where we are and what we’ve been doing! Now here’s hoping it gets better, because honestly, we’re not really living the Australian dream at the moment! But it will get better, I’m sure of that.