Living and working on a farm for the past 4 months has been anything but easy. I arrived thinking I would only last 3 or 4 weeks. But now here I am, having completed my 88 days of regional work to get my 2nd year visa in Australia!!
Everyday for the first couple of months I was torn between packing my bags to go home and dismissing the whole concept of a 2nd year visa, because “was it really worth it?” Or finding some inner strength deep deep down and trooping onwards till the end. It was really hard work, and I can’t even explain the back pain.
“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
I received motivational quotes from my mum every morning to keep me going.
I am now a coffee-addict, the result of waking up at 5:30am every morning (sometimes earlier).
I’ve never taken so much paracetamol, and ibuprofen as I have in the past 4 months.
In the first month I ploughed (farm pun) my way through 2 tubes of deep heat for my aching back and shoulders. Thinking the pain would never go away and I would never get to my 88th day, I was so ready to pack my bags and head back to civilisation.
“When you feel like quitting, think about why you started”
However, I knew I was not ready to go back home to Scotland in just a few short months FOR GOOD and have to face the reality of becoming an adult. It was either that, or packing apples in a shed for a tiny 4 months out of a lifetime to live another year in the beautiful land of ‘Straya.
So here I am. 4 months down the line, suitcase packed and 88 days in the bag; guide book in hand ready to tackle the East Coast round 2.
I know I would not have been able to get through any of this without the awesome people I’ve met. All being in the same boat, we kept each other going. The ultimate thing that kept me here though was having my own house complete with a kitchen, a pantry, a fridge and a freezer (all the things now being a traveller, I think of as a luxury). I am not a fn of hostel sharing kitchens.
As much as I love being in a new place every week, there is nothing quite like staying put in the same place for a while. We all need that time to recollect, and save money for the next trip of course.
I did my farm work on an apple farm in Stanthorpe, the coldest town in Queensland. Being a member of the packing shed, all day every day I squeezed apples; put them in bags; made punnets and one time… mopped the entire concrete shed floor.
Nothing quite prepared me for the worst thing though, the weather. I experienced my first Australian thunderstorm in Stanthorpe and 0h was it one to remember. The sky looked eery and I couldn’t shake the feeling Lord Voldemort was on his way. We were never in the dark as the sky lit up with flashes from every direction, every second. The walls actually vibrated because of the booming thunder from right above.
When we arrived in Stanthorpe it was freezing cold. I didn’t think Australia was even capable of these bitter temperatures. I’d only ever felt this cold in Scotland! With our scarves, hoodies and 3 layers of leggings on we made through the end of winter and just like that it was summer again. Week by week another layer was coming off, then we reached a dilemma at week 13. We were down to our last (well, 2nd last obviously) layer of clothing yet sweat was still dripping down every part of our skin. I’m just thankful I’m out before the real heat of summer commences. I’ll be able to cool down with a Margarita and get a tan whilst I’m at it.
Overall, I have had a really good farm experience though. I haven’t had to travel all over the country from farm to farm collecting visa days all over the place, which I’m so thankful for. Finding funny reject apples was the highlight of the day though, I won’t lie.
Sundays were our only day off in the week and by the time it came around, none of us could be bothered doing anything or going anywhere. After a 60+ hour week all we had the energy to do was lie outside and soak up the sun, when it eventually came out. But oh when I reached half way, there were definitely some beers involved.
Reaching half way was the highlight of it all. I was on such a high for the whole week and after that, the time flew. At the time it didn’t feel like it though, especially with a few 13-14 hour shifts. Coffee became my best friend.
I spent my last weekend on the farm celebrating with all the other farm girls as we headed into town for a big night out. A night out in Stanthorpe is far from big, so if you do head there don’t expect big things. It’s just a small country town with typical aussie pubs, except one special cocktail bar.
Viscosity cocktail bar does not serve your average drinks. You can get a normal vodka lemonade if you so desire, but with the drinks they create why would you want to. I’m not even sure how to describe them other than “scientific” drinks: glow in the dark, ultraviolet, and various other creations. The banana split shot has to be my favourite. As soon as I finished one, I was back up to the bar for another as I missed the sweet banana butterscotch liquid. It’s AWESOME.
Thank goodness I no longer have to wake up at 5:30 am anymore. I was not a morning person before the farm, but I had to adapt. I can say a sweet goodbye to sleeping in kids ikea bunk beds, and say hello to adult size bunk beds as I am welcomed back into hostel life. I will miss you quirky, little Stanthorpe and all the amazing people I’ve met.
But it’s back to beach life for now. Back to paradise.
“With enough coffee, anything is possible.”