Friday 24 September 2010

Australia Adventures: 16. The Art of Fruitpicking, Under The Bridge and Escape To The Outback...

Hello! or G'Day! should I say...

Thanks for checking in to my latest blog from my Cross Country trip Down Under....

Still in Queensland, think its my favourite Aussie state so far...

After jumping on a Greyhound bus out of Airlie Beach for 9 hours further down the east coast to Rockhampton (honestly to get from one town to another in this country is a holiday in itself - but I've come to enjoy the mishaps and colour of a long road journey).

I was anchored in Rockhampton which isn't really anything I would say to stick around for. Still I was anchored there for five days.....waiting for a ride in country to the harvest town. I did a lot of wandering around - I figured I'd rest before my physically demanding work as a fruit picker commences where I'll be grateful for these days off....but five days nearly killed me... 

I was making my way inland to Emerald to start work again as I was running on empty with the dollars and thanks to my friend, got a job at a farm picking mandarins, limes and pulling fruitless shoots off grape vines (well that was the idea anyway).

I lived in a remote workers camps with other travellers and many travelling Australians who had retired or spent their lives working the 'Harvest Trail' following the fruits and vegetable harvests around Australia in their campervans and caravans....quite a life. I lived pretty remote for two months beside the orchards way out of town but it was an interesting and funny experience being involved in the Australian Harvest Trail and being mentored in the fruitful 'art of fruitpicking'.

In fact I actually really enjoyed the peace and tranquility for a while.

I had a pet horse too, 'Duke' who I'd go and feed everyday after work and also joined the Pistol Club next door to the orchard where I learnt how to shoot pistols at targets on my days off. That's how I like to spend days off haha. 

Fruitpicking can pay well if you work hard (I aimed for three full bins of Mandarins a day) and it is back breaking, but it's weather or not you can withstand the pain for a while, but man you get fit. I think I lost a bit of weight too but have had my fair share of cuts, bruises, injuries and laughs in the orchard - I had a cool picking team which makes sometimes being treated like you're in the army much more of a laugh. 

A hit at the Pistol Club next door and with the 'true blue bosses' boss ever

Anyway, the majority of my time has been out there living in the orchard working really hard out there in the sun - 35 degrees and thats winter! but the great thing about fruitpicking is you have such a monotonies lifestyle, you are not even tempted or given the opportunity to blow your hard earned cash on trivial matters - so I've got enough money to hit the road again after 8 weeks after the winter had passed (and you'd rather be up here in Queensland in the winter anyway).

Never thought I would say this but I actually ended up homeless for a few nights with some of the other fruit pickers. Unless you're driving, the only way out of Emerald is the bus and train and - well guess what, Greyhound stopped the bus route so we were stuck job finished, and no where to live. So....I lived under a bridge, no really, I was sleeping under a bridge. It was cool though, other travellers were too and here is Dan with his campervan joining us as he works his way around Australia.  

Funny enough, we actually missed our train heading out of Emerald because we went to get a sandwich! The lugguge was on the train so we had to get a friend to drive us to the next town to catch it as it came through ha! honestly.....its been a great adventure and come to realise there are some very kind and hospitable people out there on the road.

Spring is now here in Oz and I was yearning to head into the outback to live the REAL Aussie outback stuff, y'know the stuff Clint Eastwood is about. So....I jumped on a bus heading out to a lil outback town called Biloela and found Kroombit Lochenbar Station 35km east of the small town.

I spent a fantastic week there fully living and indulging in tasting this cattle station lifestyle. With onsite station hand tuition from the resident 'Jackaroos' and station owners - I learnt how to muster up cattle (well baby goats) on horseback, sleeping (under the cloudy skies) in swags by the fire, fire a shotgun, lassoing goats in the bull pen, I can even crack a whip now! (and kept it too!)  - it rained pretty much the whole time but was a great experience. I recommend you all have a go if you're after a real authentic experience if you come to Australia!

 But can't ride the rodeo. I suck at rodeo riding.

[Horse Head View] Mustering cattle....well goats anyhow

Swaggin' and Shootin' it up...London-city girl turned Aussie Jillaroo...... learning to lasso in the goat pen

Now I'm back in Rockhampton (again) I'm getting to know this town prettttyyyy well, but I'm planning to head further down the coast to Hervey Bay and beyond to visit the famous Fraser Island and those cute lil dingos..

Thanks for checking in. Laters.

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide Australia 

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