I never really doubt if I’m capable of something, but during these four months of farmwork I got tested over and over again. Many times I felt like screaming, many times I felt like giving up and many times I wondered how these 88 days were ever gonna pass by. But: I did it! I did it! I did it! And this is my farmstory…
Where it all began…
After getting scammed on Gumtree for a ‘carrot peeling’ job in Western Australia, I came across another ad on Gumtree for farmwork in Bundaberg. I phoned up the lady who advertized it, and together with two Welsh guys I met in Tasmania (one of them who became very special to me ;)) I headed off to Bundy.
When I arrived at Bundaberg airport I was greeted by some palmtrees and a warm breeze – not too bad! After a short ride to the hostel, I entered a run down, old, dirty place, a place I thought would be my home away from home for the upcoming three months…
Strawberries will never taste the same again
The next day I started working straight away: strawberry planting! I somehow always kind of romantized farmwork: being outside all day, getting a nice tan, no stress, making a bit of money… It all didn’t sound too bad to me! Until I planted my first few strawberries. This was going to be tough! Everyday we started work around 5am, and worked until 12pm or 1pm, because then the heat really became unbearable. We planted about 400 meters of strawberries a day. Squatting, sitting, bending, lifting, singing, complaining, laughing, melting – a lot of -ings passed by during these strawberry days. All for 6 cents a plant.
After three weeks the farmers started to treat us unfairly, which caused me to lose my motivation, and I eventually got fired. (Read about this in more detail in one of my previous blogs – Bundaberg – 88 days a slave). I then ended up sorting and packing tomatoes, but after 21 farm days completed I decided being a farm slave wasn’t worth a second year in Australia, so I quit, left Bundaberg, and headed off to Sydney.
A few months passed by…
The second year visa suddenly became an attractive idea again. We decided to give it another try, and ended up in the ghetto of Gatton, where after a day of broccoli packing we only made 6 dollars an hour. We soon found out we had been scammed again. Bummer. This woman, named Mayla Patterson, recruits people for farmwork, let’s them live in her houses for 200 dollars a week and gives them shitty jobs that barely cover half of the rent. After deciding we wanted to leave and placing another ad on Gumtree, we received the liberating phone call from a guy called Brad. 14 hours of driving later we arrived in Griffith, where we would be living in a hostel in the middle of nowhere. Read more about this hostel here on my blog A Citygirl in Rural New South Wales.
Oranges are orange
I started working at an orange packing shed, and, oh my, the first few days were tough. I had to sort oranges, meaning I had to make the cold hearted decisions which oranges didn’t quite make the cut and were destined to become orange juice. Life can be so unfair. After a few days my back started to hurt because I was standing the whole day. Quite the challenge for someone who is used to sit on her ass in an office 😉 But with that heavenly second year in mind I embraced the challenge, and continued judging orange after orange, day in day out.
New job! Hooray!
After almost two months of being an orange-judge I got a new job: Quality and Packing Coordinator. Hooray! No more sorting oranges, but making sure everything in the orange shed is packed in the right box, is labelled with the right ticket and is shipped off to the right customer. I even had to sit down and actually test if my brain was still working! 🙂 Such liberation!
The day every backpacker in Australia is dreaming of
And then it was finally there: my 88th day! I did it! I really, really did it! For people who have never been to Australia and done farmwork this may sound a little bit exaggerated, but I felt just as proud as when I obtained my Masters Degree. Being able to plant thousands of strawberries and stare at oranges for 8 hours a day, day in day out, freezing cold or sweating in the heat, is when you really, REALLY get to know yourself. But the fact that I pushed through, continued, kept on working, kept myself from going completely insane, is something which really made me grow as a person. I also have gained so much more respect for people who work in factories everyday, for who this is their every day life. They are often looked down upon in society because they don’t have a fancy degree or possess a certain skill, but being able to keep it together while doing a job like that is worth being applauded to.
Next week I will finally leave this amazing, energizing, bustling, fantastic city by hopping on a 9 hour bus- and trainride to Melbourne. I can. not. wait. to finally go back to the city, and even more important: back to the beach! After a few days of reuniting with the city where my Australia adventure started 9 months ago, I will head off to Bali where I will meet with one of my besties from home. Bali tips are more than welcome! 🙂