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Published: June 19th 2018
Its the weekend, but not for Colin and I, as today our workweek starts at Heritage Winery. Woke up disgustingly early, as we had to ride 8 ks to get to the winery, to start our first paid grape picking, as opposed to the five finger discount picking, we have done along the way. Its the 21st of march, Autumnal equinox, the days are a little shorter, nights are a little longer. mornings are getting a little more brass monkey, especially on a brisk early morning's ride to work. Yes that four letter word is one I am not used to, pen pushing hands are about to get a workout in the vineyard. The work is hard, but the pay is good, ( I think I borrowed that line from a song in a distant memory.) We are picking big juicy bunches of grapes at breakneck speed, just trying to keep up with the chain gang. (I am pretty much dragging the chain.) but I am sure I will pick up the pace if I only stop nicking my fingers with the razor sharp secateurs.
Over morning tea we got to meet the other pickers, one couple were really interesting,
The yella Ute,
4 guys Yell at each other to see who rides in the back today!
their story quite fascinating. Sean left our shores 14 years ago to work in England, where he met his wife Lucy and started their family. Last year Sean returned to Oz with his family to convert an old bus into a mobile home and hit the road for a working holiday around the "Lucky Country". They left Brisbane 9 months ago and here they are in the Barossa. I was impressed with their home schooled.children, being tutored via the School of the Air. What a difference it is to see kids, out in the sunshine enjoying life and doing their school work in the bus after dinner. Their children Ally and Max were intelligent, well mannered, self confident and comfortable in their own skin. A far cry from their bullied, labeled, teased counterparts, in the public schooled conditioning machine. It seems a crying shame that innocent children, herded like sheep are all being groomed as the future brood stock for the system.Yep, these people are really "Sticking it to The Man!." "Power to the People, Right on !!
Meanwhile back in the vineyard, the afternoon sun is burning down on us, like a furnace and ole' Slow hand Dazz is struggling to keep up. Am I really cut out for this stuff?, Speedy Col, is just rippin' through the vines like a man possessed, may be he is used to this kind of hard yakka. maybe I might pick up the pace tomorrow, but all I can think about right now, is that icy cold Coopers waiting for us at the Vine Inn, After a beer or 6, Colin and I hussled the pool table, before stumbling the short distance back to camp at the Elrippoff caravan park.
Its Sunday ,morning, supposedly the sabbath, day of rest, but not for us, Up on the road at 7.00 to start work at 8,at the Heritage Winery, my body has a few aches and pains from yesterdays introduction into manual labour, but generally I am truckin' pretty good. Day 2 of picking and I seem to be getting the hang of this stuff. no tomato sauce from cut fingers, nice sunny day, slight breeze and all is good in the world. A good day in the field. We finished work around 4.30 and moseyed on up to the office to pick up our pay. Little family wineries are so welcoming and friendly, The Italians handed out our weekend pay and invited us to sample some after hour wine and nibblies, Gotta say the finished product was quite good, so good I purchased a few reds to come along for the ride. We thanked them for the work and refreshments and you guessed it, after the 8 ks riding home after a full days work saw us holding up the bar at the Vine Inn. We arranged to share a few coldies with Sean, before they headed off to some exotic location on their big adventure. We wished them well, and then Colin and I got pretty well, there is no other word for it, yeah we hit the turps a little too much, and practiced some swerve riding on the way back to Captain Ripoff's overpriced under rated hell hole of what vaguely resembles a caravan park.
"Wake up Dazz, we got a new winery to go to", Kid Eager Colin, was banging on my invisible door, itching to get to work, I wasn't so enthusiastic. So with a head full of beer remnants from the night before, I chucked on some clothes, had a quick brekkie, started up the treddly and rode off to our new winery to start work. The sign as we entered read Schulz winery, it should have read Stalag 13
. Yes we entered the Gestapo Winery, where the work was really tough, the word Slave Driver,
is probably a bit too kind. Boss man Rodney was lining up the new recruits and was suitably unimpressed with the picking crew sent by Centrelink. The mixed bunch of misfits included 2 drifters from Queensland, 3 Scots,, a druggo Gordon with an insane blue heeler, Old timer Clyde who picked in shorts and a long waistcoat and us two ferals on treddlies. Rod and his parents were cracking the proverbial whip, demanding we keep up with them, snipping off the grapes and various fingers that were once attached to our overworked hands. The vines were not trellised up like they were at Heritage wines, so there was a lot of back ache bending over all day, and did I mention the long days, they had us working from 7.00 until 4.30, I think a job in the Siberian salt mines would have been cushy.
Day 2, at Stalag 13 and its 33 degrees in the shade. Lunch time arrives, the two white skinned Scotsman working shirtless are now bright red lobsters. Lunch bell rings, the Scotsmen have "done a runner", and chucked in the towel, they have had enough of this torture. So us poor souls toiled on to knock off time. The afterwork coldies at the Vine Inn, were going down faster than the bar man could pour them from the tap. Colin and I probably spent more on beer after work, than we made slaving all day.
Day 3 and its another chilly morning. Camped next to us in Gestapo Land are 4 Queenslanders in a 3 seater yellow ute. Every morning there is the obligatory argument about who's riding in the back off the ute, Colin and I were amused when one of them said "Why should I have to ride in the back, It's my car!!. I offered to ride in the back, if one of them would ride the bike to work. All went quiet as the owner of the ute begrudgingly took his turn in the back. It's now late arvo on day 3 in torture land and Gordon the druggo, got the sack from Commandant Rod, my back is yelling at me to please get the sack, I listened to its pain and told the commandant' I quit, "Colin, I can't hack this torture any more." Meanwhile back at the ranch, we are paying $4.80 for each tent on one campsite. Cleverman Dazz said to Colin, "What if we put one tent fly over two tents, that way it looks like one tent". But Ah No, Greedy Gestapo God, says you have still got two tents," Yeah but it is the same size as their 3 man tent next to us, and they only pay $4.80 for the three of them. Some people are just greedy little shits!!
Day 4 Colin headed off to work and Slacka Dazz has a well earned sleep in. A real rest day for me, so I had a long hot shower, (make sure I get bang for my buck at Captain ripoffs 1 star Gulag) and rode off to the laundromat to wash and dry my stinky clothes. Lawdy Lawdy Lawdy, the laundromat was right next to the Angus Park Hotel, well lets wash the insides as well Dazz. Whilst waiting for the washing machine to do its thing, and transform my travel soiled clothing into shiny sparkly things that smell nice. I played a few games of pool, (S.A rules are weird), game of darts, watch some crap on T.V, The realisation as we head into northern S.A, this could probably the last chance to visit a laundromat until the Alice. Headed back to camp with clean clothes and many assorted beers in readiness for the "Pickers" farewell party planned for tonight.
After Dinner Colin and I headed for party central at the caravan park, where a big bonfire was raging and a "plethora" of Pickers, had gathered around jamming on guitars and various percussion instruments, enjoying drinks and nibblies and pretty much just having a good time. That was until Captain Grumpy rode up on his quad bike like the "Sheriff" in a 2 bit western movie, to lay down the law. After demanding silence he began what was essentially his sermon on the mount. "I want this all wrapped up by 10 tonight, Keep the bloody noise down, If I have to come back there is gonna be hell to pay. So collectively we pretty much told him to shut up and piss off. At this point his beetroot head had visible steam coming out of it, as he shouted "If I have to come back","yeah we heard you the first time idiot" someone shouted at him. "Right I have had it up to here with you bloody morons, every year I have to put up with your noisy farewell parties and I have had a gutfull. "Yeah Piss off", the agitator repeated. "Right fella I am calling the cops and there going to turf you out first, What is your name!
, So at his point Tommy troublemaker, looked around the circle of people and noticed that I was wearing a "Joe Cocker" T.shirt. I asked you "What is your name!"
Tommy Troublemaker tells him that his name is Joe Cocker. The whole crowd erupts into uncontrolled laughter, Gestapo God replies "Okay Joe Cocker the cops are going to turf you out on your arse! The crowd laugh even more, totally infuriating Captain Grumpy, as he wheels around on his quad bike and we just go back to the business of the farewell party. That is until 3 sets of headlights come over the speed hump as someone yells Its the Cops!!, most of us get savvy and scramble, At this point it is a good idea to remove my Joe Cocker T shirt. I said to Colin just grab our I.D from our tents and hide until the cops leave. So we hid in the long grass watching the Gestapo God and the cops go from tent to tent hauling out and evicting the trouble makers on the spot in the wee hours of morn. totally draconian. When the Cops left Colin and I returned to our tents, to get some sleep, as tomorrow we jump back on the bikes to continue our great adventure north.
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