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Published: January 9th 2015
Merry Christmas and Happy new year from Sunny ( but for today really wet) Red Cliffs, Victoria.
After a few days in Cairns I flew to Adelaide to meet up with my best friends mum and dad Tina and Martin who were in Australia visiting relatives. Tom had arranged it so that I would arrive unannounced and surprise them. I walked in and nearly gave Tina a heart-attack as she was not expecting to see such a familiar face 16,000 miles away. I was then mothered for the next few days and taken under their wing as one of their own with clothes washed and toiletries and medicine supplies replenished.
As I had been been on the road for the last month or so, I decided that it was probably best that I should go and get my farming done so that I could apply for my second year visa. I went online and saw an advert on workingholidayvisajobs.com. I rang them up and asked how I would apply. They told me that I must pay a 100 dollar agency fee and they would send me the details of the work. I very cheekily managed to get phone operator
to tell me the name of the hostel and I went to them directly, avoiding the charge.
I caught the greyhound from Adelaide to Mildura, a 4 and a half hour coach journey. I was then picked up by the manager Cam and taken to the hostel.
I started work the next day picking oranges. Orange picking involves getting the oranges off the tree using a ladder and putting them in a bag which goes over your front. You then put the oranges from your bag into a large receptacle called a bin. One bin is around $27. On the first day I did it, I managed to earn $80 working from 06:15 in the morning and finishing at around 3pm. The heat in the middle of the day is unbearable. It is commonplace to sit under the shade of the tree at mid-day and eat your sandwiches to get out of the sun. It is hard work and the alarm clock is set for 4:45 most days.
Rent at the hostel is 150 dollars a week, so if every day was like the first I would be easily covering the rent plus more for the savings
and beer supply. The next day the lorry taking the oranges away forgot to attach the load properly to the wagon and as a result the load tipped forward releasing 3 tons of oranges onto the floor and tipping the trailer forward.
With one lorry out of action this meant that all the bins couldn’t be effectively emptied and created a backlog. For the next week we would run out of bins at 9.30/10am limiting our earning capacity to about $20 a day. When the lorries were then fixed, the management of the farm thought it would be a great idea to limit the amount of bins that could be picked to a quota. Once the quota had been met ( for example 100 bins) then work would stop for the day.
Being in around nature and trees we saw a whole host of creepy crawlies. My friend Andrea had a redback spider on the back of an orange- have a look at the picture. Another group had a tiger snake slither past them. The screams could be heard from 10 rows away J
Christmas was spent recovering from orange picking and visiting toms family in Adelaide
who kindly invited me for Christmas. In true Aussie spirit, we had a BBQ and spent the day outside. I was trying to imagine eating Christmas dinner outdoors in England but it would be too darn cold. On boxing day I was invited to another family BBQ. It is tradition on boxing day in this family to go out onto the field behind them and play cricket. There are two teams, the Rangers ( aussie slang for Gingers, coming from the word oRANGatang) and the champs. Being fair headed, naturally I was on the rangers. Being a ‘ Whinging Pom’ I was the butt of everyone's jokes for the day, and if I had a dollar for every time I heard ‘ well that’s why you lost the ashes mate!’ one more time I think I wouldn’t need to go fruit picking anymore .
New Years was spent in Sydney with friend made whilst I was there my first 6 months. It was a long old drive there and back -11 hours each way. I am now all road-tripped out for a while and I’m enjoying being in the once place for now. We camped out on a nature
reserve in Drummoyne which overlooked the harbour bridge and watched the fireworks at midnight.
Now back in Red Cliffs/ Mildura I have spent the last week vine covering. This means pinning tarpaulin and plastic to wires, protecting the grapes from the bad weather and mildew. We had all 5 paddocks done and dusted in three days, with just 5 seconds to spare before the rain started to pour down.
I finish fruit picking in early march and I am hoping to either pick up some more EHO contracting or travel. I have booked a flight back to England for a few weeks in april, via Hong Kong so I’m sure there will be another blog around then.
I am due to take a few days off from plowing the fields to see Thomas in Adelaide.
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