We enjoyed this meal with a Belgian couple working at our campsite!
Sushi at the Campsite!
It has been a while since we have last updated this blog, and I apologise for this. Life for the last 4 weeks, working on the farm, has almost made us feel like we are holding 'real' jobs again! We get up at 5:30am and get to work for 7am. Work until 10am, then have a 20min break (these are essential!), then work until lunch (30mins) which we take at 1pm. Then we work until 4pm - so are day is broken into 3 working chunks. We will get back to the farm work a bit later in this blog. In the evenings we have been keeping busy making dinner and doing a lot of reading! We found some sushi supplies in the grocery store in Warwick and made it! We were so excited as it had been some months since we had had it last. We invited our Belgin friends to join us, and they were very impressed that we made it ourselves! Doesn't Carolyn look excited??
Dinner with McMahon's
The Farmer we have been working for, Jeff, invited us all out for dinner with his family at a restaurant in town. It was a
Rosemary & Sarah
Our bosses wife and a friend singing for us after dinner.
cozy little place and Rosemary (Jeff's wife) had her guitar instructor play for us. It was quite good. Rosemary and her friend Sarah sang along to a couple of the songs. Jeff seemed to have an unlimited supply of beer and wines from the area, and everyone had a fantastic time! We are getting to know our co-workers a lot better, and I think some of them will remain friends for life. It is amazing how close you can become in such a short amount of time. Our common bond: toiling away in the hot sun.
Ride to Stanthorpe Lookout
On the weekend we try to explore the local sites. We heard that there was a dam close to the town that was quite scenic, so set off early on a Sunday to check it out. We weren't exactly sure where it was, but on one of the maps we had it showed there was a dam down one of the highways towards Texas. We heard that there is even a George W. Bush that lives down there as well - kind of ironic... anyways we made it about 5 kms down the road before we saw a sign
that listed the dam as being 87kms away. Turns out we had the wrong dam! Damn. If we had better suited bikes maybe we would have tried it, but needless to say we turned around. We decided to instead go to the Stanthorpe lookout - a platform that overlook the entire town. The hill getting up there was very demanding - so steep that Carolyn decided she was going to have to walk certain parts of it as she gasped for breath! I dogged it out with my front wheel lifting off the ground with every pedal! It was worth it and the view was quite good.
Friday Music Night!
Rosemary invited us to attend a showing of all the local music talent that take instruction from David, the guitar teacher - he is very talented and can play a wide range of music as was shown in the sampling of music played by his students. It was held at a winery about 20km's south of Stanthorpe. We came very close to hitting a kangaroo on the way there as it was already dark. Luckily it decided to run the right way - Luckily for him as Betsy probably
Our fellow farm workers enjoying our dinner out with the farmer - what a nice guy!
wouldn't even have noticed it with the bull bars on the front! Jeff again kept us drinking with plenty of wines supplied and it was great to sit and listen to all of the different players - really makes me miss playing myself. Most of them were teenagers but one was 77 - although only looked about 60.
Saturday Night at the Campsite!
The next night we got together with a Finnish couple (Erro & Salla) and a Swedish couple (Perri & Maggie) that are staying in the same caravan park with us - they also work on the same farm. Each of them are renting caravan trailers there at the park - so we hung out there as there is a lot more room then we have in Betsy. We stayed up the latest we have for a while - past 1am (wow!), and spoke of all the similarities and differences between each of our countries. It is very interesting to hear of these - some are quite surprising! Finland and Sweden both seem like very nice countries, and perhaps someday we'll get to see them firsthand!
New Fuel Pump
We had been noticing that our fuel
A nice view of the little town of Stanthorpe! I thought I was going to die on the way up!
pump was a little weak, and anytime the level of gas in the tank was lower than the fuel pump it was unable to pull in enough to start the van (this is just slightly less than 1/2. After not being able to start it again in the morning, and catching a ride with the Finns to work, I ordered a new one in town for $81. It proved a little difficult to install because of its positioning but after a few hours it was running very well! We tested it out a few days later and it started without any hesitation with less than 1/8th of a tank! Success!
Girroween National Park!
After working another week on the farm - we were ready for some more activity that did not involve working or reading! We decided to head to The Pyramids at Girraween National Park on recommendation of our Belgin friends (Eric and Isabella). We invited Perri and Maggie (Swedes) to come with us as they do not have a vehicle. It was about a 30min drive south to get there and was absolutely spectacular! There were about 20 kangaroo's in a field just inside the park and
Enjoying our one night off of the weekend with a few drinks!
you could walk right up to them. They were wild, but tamed a bit from the amount of people who visit the park each year. The Pyramids are a gigantic rock that had countless rocks precariously balanced all over it. It is astounding how the rocks have been left like this over the centuries! The rock was very steep to climp up, and several parts were almost dangerous! A small slip and you would be plummeting hundreds of feet down the edge of a sloping cliff. We got to the top and Perri and I climbed up every rock we could find. One of them proved a little difficult to get down off of, and we thought we were going to have to call in the helicopters - but I was able to make a jump after mustering my courage that allowed us to get down. If you are to yell from the top of the rock, you get an echo that comes back to you in a panoramic sort of way as the reverberating cliffs get farther and farther away as it sweeps around. Quite remarkable. I was a little hoarse the next day from wanting to listen to
Our approach in Girraween National Park
it over and over...
It was a very warm day and being exposed out in the beating sun for most of the afternoon left us very hot and exhausted! At the bottom of the rock was a pool of water that is collects from all of the rainwater that comes down off of the rock. As a result of this, it is quite cold water - but was very refreshing. We watched several turtles and lizards swimming in the water but decided that they would probably leave you alone - as others were already swimming there. Only Perri and I decided to go in. I was lying in the sun on the opposite side of the pool with only my feet draped in the water when a turtle bit my big toe! It scared me so much that I fell back in to the pool again, and because I didn't know what had bit me at the time with me landing pretty much right on top of it - I swam to the shore as fast as humanly possible! What a fright! It didn't leave any lasting marks on my toe - just my mind. "shudder".
Sheer granite face made it a bit tricky to climb!
on the Farm
This took up most of our time as we were working 40+ hours a week. Finally our suffering is over though, as we worked our last day Saturday! (Darcy, you would have loved it!). Most mornings we picked snowpeas, then thinned peaches until lunch. The afternoons were spent thinning, weeding, or stringing trellises to support snowpea plants. This involved pounding stakes into the ground with a 10lb steel pipe - quite tiring on the shoulders as each post required 3-4 hits and we must have put in 500+ posts. I often got to drive the tractor to cart people to and from the fields, and all of our time spent thinning was up on the hydraulic ladders.
One time with Carolyn and I each going down the opposite sides of the same row of peach trees - I looked up as Carolyn called to me in a terrified voice - "Joe, I'm tipping!". I looked up and saw her pointing at the rear wheel on the ladder that was a foot off the ground. She had caught the bucket of the lift on the peach tree and as she tried to move it up or down,
The climb 2
Continuing the climb with our Swedish co-workers Perri & Maggie just ahead.
it was forcing the back end up in the air! I told her to try either up or down to see which way she was caught. She tried to go up and froze with her hand on the controls as the back end kept lifting off more and more! I though she was going to go right over - and yelled for her to let go of the lever! She did and when pushed the bucket down, the tree finally let go and catapulted about 50 hard peaches right at me - Owww! 5 minutes later we were back to normal, boring thinning. That was enough excitement for one afternoon!
Some of the mornings have been quite cold here and we actually got a frost one of them. This was the same day that it snowed on us while we were up in the cherry pickers. It was quite unbelieveable even if it was only for about 10 seconds. Not just light flurries either - heavy flakes! Our hands were a little frosty as we continued our peach thinning. Brrrrrrrr. Never would have guess we'd see that here in Australia - and I think even the locals were quite
Joe on the climb
Puttin out the vibe, and the Don Cherry
surprised with the weather.
Fridays were again a godsend - until Jeff asked us to start working Saturday mornings. That really killed Friday nights for us! Can't stay up very late when you have to get up at 5:30am! The time seemed to drag on and on while working in the field, but the days still seemed to fly by. Hard to believe that it is hardly a month until Christmas!
One big benefit to doing the farm work is because it was quite 'backbreaking' labour, I have ended up strengthening my back considerably. The first couple days of bending over were pure agony, but now I can do it for hours on end without hardly noticing it. Guess sitting in an office chair for two years was not that great for my lower back and abdominal strength. This has helped a lot with living in the van, which requires a fair amount of bending over (low cupboards and fridge).
After our last Saturday working, Jeff told us that he would have us over for a BBQ at his place after work. It was a great way to say goodbye to the farm and to
some of the people working there. The BBQ was fantastic - and we got to try our first kangaroo meat! It really is delicious! So tender and moist - a bit like venison, but not as gamey. We sat around and chatted - someone brought our a guitar and we all got to play a bit. It was a really nice day! After lunch we played soccer and tossed and kicked around a rugby ball. Paul, Jeff's middle son who is 17, plays for his highschool team. Sport is very well followed here in Australia - with Rugby as the all-time favourite. Then Jeff brought out a rifle and a couple boxes of 30-30 shells for some target shooting. Quite the life these guys lead. Paul said that they have to shoot parrots in the summer time because they destroy a lot of the fruit, each of them shooting up to 100 a day! That is a lot of parrots! We hit one while driving today - and didn't feel as bad as we would have if we didn't know how many there were and how pesky they are. All of us took turns with the rifle, shooting at some
Leap of faith
Joe & Perri climbed up this big rock, then had to figure out how to get back down!
tin cans stacked in a pyramid about 100ft away - even Carolyn managed to hit the cans on her third shot! I nailed 4 of 4. We said our goodbyes and took our last looks at the farm on the way back to our campsite. No tears. Back on Vacation after earning $6500 AU in the 5 weeks we were here. The secret will be making this last for as long as possible. It has given alot more 'value' to our spending and we alway convert it back to how long in the pea patch it translates to. Not too much is worth it after this comparison is made!
Boonoo Boonoo National Park
(Sunday, Nov 19), we decided to do tidy up our stuff and get organised before we head off to Brisbane tomorrow. Carolyn is not quite finished the 4th Harry Potter, so we can't leave until she is, or we forfeit the $35 library membership. In the afternoon we went with Perri, Maggie, Salla and Erro to Boonoo Boonoo National Park and water fall. They have some weird names here... It was quite nice there and it is said that the famous Australia poet, Andrew Barton Patterson
used to spend a lot of time. It was quite inspirational. Cascading waterfalls with many small pools as it wound it's way to the bottom of a 200m gorge with rainforest all around. We spent the afternoon swimming and wading though these pools, standing unter the waterfalls, and even managed to swim behind one of them!
The roads leading into the park were all loose gravel - for about 40kms so it took a while to get out there. Kind of reminded me of some of the roads that we drove on in Belize (Remember these Ben and Sarah?). On the way out we came across a car that had slid off the road and was tied up in a barb-wire fence. I helped him out by cutting the wires with a pair of plies I had in Betsy and gave him a bit of a push.
We made a wrong turn coming out of the park, but thanks to a handy compass that we bought for $2, it showed we were going the wrong way and we turned around after only a few kms.
Nov 20: Carolyn and I went to the hospital today
to have some sores that seem to have been getting worse, looked at. Carolyn's are small scabs that ooze a bit (5 of them), and mine was a large growth (Boil) on the side of my neck that has slowly been getting worse since Friday. Carolyn got off with a few prescibed antibiotics, but they put me under the knife. We were told that they are caused by some sort of bacteria that we have been exposed to. Perri also had sores similar to Carolyn's on his face. We had planned to leave Stanthorpe today, but I have a follow up visit tomorrow to remove some packing that is stuffed into the now hole in my neck. They had a lot of trouble relieving the pressure because rather than one pocket, there were many small ones all clustered together (No wonder I didn't have much success!). They put me on an IV and everything! I am sure we will both be fine though in a few days. They are not really painful, but I now have limited mobility of my neck, and everyone stares at me because of the large bandage on it. I put a bandaid over it because
it had soaked through with blood and I didn't want to scare anyone more then this does already.
We purchased traveller's insurance before leaving Canada, and I think all of the expenses incurred will be reimbursed. Quite good as each of our visits this morning was worth $168 each! I think I got more value then Carolyn though.... ha ha ha.
So, on to Brisbane after the Doctor's visit in the morning. Betsy seems to be in pretty good running order, although still using a bit of oil. Carolyn drove for a bit after I came out of the hospital because I was a little woozy from all the drugs they gave me. We get to surprise all of our friends in the park because we said our goodbyes yesterday and this morning, but turns out we'll be there for another night.
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