Leaving Ayr

The past five months has been quite the experience. It’s been fun and I’ve had some really, really good company as well as a high number of hangovers. I wouldn’t change much except maybe the alcohol bans, having less personal space than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs and getting a pay rise, but doing it once is more than enough for me.

It started off pretty brutal – eight hour shifts in 35+ degree heat with no shelter with a crippling back ache. There’s one day I remember looking at someone, probably to make a comment about how hot it was, and her face was just layers of sweat at 8.30am. The first couple of weeks were horrendous, but after the first couple of weeks and getting over how shit it actually is, as long as you can have a laugh it’s ok.

I probably owe the hostel around $3000 in fines for rules that I’ve not been caught breaking and managed to get my $200 bond back. One Thursday night we went out and ended up having a pool party for an hour at 1am, breaking six or so rules in the process; how we didn’t get caught is beyond me. I’d write a bit about the hostel and how it’s run but I will completely go off on one and end up writing an essay about it.

A couple of things that I learnt: if it’s Monday and you think you’re coming down with something after a heavy weekend, it’s probably a two-day hangover. I think most importantly, it’s about seeing the bigger picture and powering through. Next year I want to travel through New Zealand and Asia, and my second year in Australia I intend to earn a lot of money to pay for it, so I’m better off staying here for the extra year than going back to England. I’ve never wanted to work on a farm and over the past five months I’ve had some of the worst shifts that I’ve ever worked. When I’m chilling out in Thailand or visiting some Lord of the Rings sets in New Zealand, I’ll look back on the crippling back aches, almost being sick in a field on a hangover, sunburn, early mornings and RSIs in my wrists and hands, and it’ll be worth it. Looking back, I know I moan about it a lot, but I’ve had a great time and met a lot of friends who I’m sure I’ll see again.

Some things that I’m really not going to miss: boxing melons, planting melons, getting moaned at for something to do with melons, being in pain from some sort of melon-related injury, having less personal space than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, being threatened with my $200 bond, alcohol bans… the list could go on. I’m going to miss the times that I’ve spent the people who have grown to be close friends over the past five months.

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Farm Life – Almost Over

Not a lot has gone on over the past week, just melon packing as per usual. We’ve been working mainly five-hour shifts which is quite annoying as I’d like to earn some money. We had one day where we had four hours’ worth of break on a seven hour day but they paid us for five so a bit of money was earnt just sat doing nothing.

This weekend was my last one in Ayr, as well as five others; I was tempted to ask for Sunday off and claim that Jesus spoke to me and told me to go to church, but I’m pretty sure I know what the two-worded answer would be. Friday night was ok but the hangover at work on Saturday wasn’t great – a four hour shift felt like eight. Saturday night I acquired another roundabout themed binge-ury (I don’t learn, I know) on my hand which is now bandaged up, I got to work this morning and the first thing my boss asked was about going on a night out last night. Picking up melons for eight hours with an injured hand isn’t much fun.

I’m booked up to go back to Melbourne next Wednesday night, and I’m hoping to move into a flat on Thursday if nothing goes tits up. I’m determined to not live in a hostel for any longer than I need to; I’ve said before that I have less personal space than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, that I share with cockroaches so I think even a tent is better than this.

88 Days a Slave, Completed

The 88 days of glorified slave labour have been done, though I have to wait until next weeks’ payslip to apply for my visa, so I have to stay here a week longer than expected. I’m a bit paranoid about applying for the second year visa as there is actually no clear information on the immigration website about what counts as a day, but I’ve been to work for 88 days so hopefully my payslips can prove that.

Over the past week we have pretty much just packed melons and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. This morning I walked outside and someone told me that I looked like shit, then I got to work and had to ask my supervisor how to put the melons in the box so was pretty clear to them that I had a good night out last night. My title of being the only backpacker to not throw up on a Sunday at work on the farm remains.

This weekend has been a two night bender – both Friday and last night we went out and got absolutely twatted. When we first got here there was this obsession with jumping into the hedge that goes all the way around the roundabout on the way to the pub and we decided to do it again. It turns out that there is a metal box on the other side of where I jumped and I am now sporting the worst bruise that I’ve ever had, on my arse, after landing on it – it has started to turn black so maybe I’ll get that seen to on my day off tomorrow. It’s quite lucky that I landed on my arse and not my back because I would be in a really bad way. Not even five minutes before that I also fell out of a shopping trolley (sorry Mum) but that was injury free.

Also I’m quite surprised that there is not another alcohol ban. We behaved ourselves in the hostel but someone managed to shit the bed in the only available bed in their house that someone was meant to check into yesterday. The mattress was taken outside to air – apparently the person being showed around had to walk past the disaster zone; I don’t know what I’d be thinking about the hostel if that was me checking in.

Tomorrow I am off which means that I need to download some TV series from Netflix onto my phone in the library and Tuesday is supposed to be busy again at work. I’m now leaving on the 30th – I was looking at going to Tokyo straight after but that’d mean spending five hours on a bus to get to Cairns, then staying the night, getting to the airport then arriving really tired and having to find my accommodation. Instead I think I’m just going to go when my job in Melbourne is finished so I have more money and something to really look forward to.

Two Days a Slave to Go

I’ve been working over the past nine days straight so not really a lot has gone on besides dealing with melons. If all goes to plan, I shall be out of the hostel next Thursday which I’m really, really excited for. Over the past week at work I have been banned from working next to the backpackers from the hostel, I think because I talk and laugh to keep myself from going insane. Earlier today we were talking about when we were going to finish with hand signals from the other side of the machine and got told off so trying to separate us hasn’t done much to help. After a few weeks of working at the farm we had a speech about how we were all slacking off and are all replaceable, but now I think we just get humoured. There’s one or two other things that I’m banned from doing at work as of the past couple of weeks but that’s a story for another time.

Wednesday we went to the cinema to see Wonder Woman which is one of the best films that I’ve seen in ages. It really wasn’t what I was expecting; it was a WWII film with the main character being a superhero. Once I have WiFi again I’ll definitely be playing catch up with Marvel films.

Last night we went out on a piss up, pretty much the same as every other Saturday that we go out – luckily we only worked for three hours today so we could get a solid afternoon of bed rest in to recover. I downloaded Netflix and have started watching the next series of Orange is the New Black; it’s a bit of a pain in the arse to download a whole series with our situation with the wifi, so today I had to sit on the floor outside the library whilst my laundry was on to download a few episodes.

If we work until Tuesday without a day off then I’ll be done with my days. It’s been a bit difficult the last couple of weeks mentally because, I’m not going to lie, I don’t give a shit and I never want to see a rock melon again.

Nine Days a Packer To Go, One Workweek Left

 

On the work front it’s been less busy so we’ve had a few days off that haven’t been complained about; I have no problem working ten plus days in a row, but when it comes to only packing melons for hours I get way too bored after not even ten minutes of day one. Sometimes it gets so boring that I sometimes start wondering, sometimes for hours on end, how much I don’t give a shit. Over the past few weeks, people have been outside in fields, picking and getting tans. On the melon farm, we’re just inside and getting muscly hands and fingers. Brilliant.

I set a date on when I’m getting out of here: 22nd June. The plan is to get a flight to Melbourne, take the weekend off, then start working again. I need to remember to let the hostel know that I’m leaving three days prior so that I don’t get fined $200 (surprise!). I’ve also set a date to go to Japan in August so I’ll be booking that when I’m out of here/

On Wednesday a group of us from the hostel went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film. It was pretty good but not as good as the first three. This coming week we’re off to see Wonder Woman and there’s a late showing of the film on backpacker night so even if we’re working till 8pm, we can catch it. We have to try and not get busted bringing our munchies from Coles into the cinema this time.

So. Many. Rules.

Also, the alcohol ban has been lifted after three weeks of it not being 100% kept to so now there’s a pretty empty crate of what was 30 beers under my bed. We went out to celebrate on Friday night after some drinks at the hostel and I only had an hour and a half’s sleep so work wasn’t much fun on Saturday. I now hold the title of the only melon packer who started in April who hasn’t been sick at work after a night out.

I’m hoping for no days off between now and day 88, and am applying for my second year visa in two weeks’ time. It’ll be a really, really good feeling when day 88 is over and done with. Although people say never say never, I’ll never be in a rush to work on a farm again.