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.

More Bloody Melons

Sixteen days left.

This posts going to be a short and sweet one; I haven’t done much, not even managed to go out on the piss. Just packing melons. The payslip for this coming week will probably be our best one to date as we are next off on Wednesday, making it ten days of 8+ hour shifts in a row. Sometimes we have to pack when it’s dark outside so we have to balance packing and avoiding/killing mosquitoes which is as fun as it sounds. I can’t wait to be done with melons.

I think I forgot to mention it on last weeks’ post; I counted the amount of boxes I packed of 8-10 melons. Before the first break (3 hours) I packed 274 boxes – somewhere around 2500 melons sorted and packed.

I’m happy to be having these long shifts and long weeks so I think I’m spending five more weeks here depending on how much work there is before heading off to Melbourne – I would quite like to go somewhere first. I have my old job back whenever I choose to get back which is nice.

This coming week, or more like day off, I have heaps of laundry to do and need to go to the library and be an adult for half hour or so. Besides that, I’m going to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Wednesday and am going to go out on the piss on Tuesday.

23 Days a Melon Slave Left

It’s not been a very big week – our last week of melon packing lasted eight days, then we had three days off. Us being us, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to drink for three nights in a row. I couldn’t manage to go out on Saturday night because I just couldn’t do it so instead I stayed in and watched movies. Today we did a nine and a half hour shift packing and us backpackers were so slow. Somehow, we didn’t get into any trouble for it, though I did have the supervisor moan at me for being shit.

I’ve had another melon-related injury to add to my suspected RSIs. There’s a conveyor belt above where the melons get dropped and I needed a huge one so I leant over and pulled one from the back. It got caught on the conveyor belt and the melon rolled over my wrist – it was so painful. Almost like the film 127 hours but more like 1.27 seconds.

Yesterday one of my roommates (one of the most annoying people I’ve ever had to put up) and someone who I’ll refer to as psycho bitch came in at 2pm whilst I was attempting to watch Transformers with their music on literally so loud that I couldn’t watch my movie and someone next to me was attempting to sleep. I found this as the perfect opportunity to have a bit of a foul-mouthed rant at them to turn their shit off and got told off by them for being rude when they were the ones being inconsiderate in the first place.

At 3am this morning, they came in from a night out, turned the lights on which I turned off straight away and made a shit load of noise. I expect it for half hour or so on a Saturday, but they went on for an hour and a half. Our new roommate was getting so pissed off so as I am a native English speaker, I went out to tell them to shut it. Apparently before I got out of the room, Psycho Bitch was covered in tomato ketchup and was punching the fridge. I told her that she needed to be quiet and she went mental at me, to the point where I thought that I was going to punch me and you could hear her from one of the other houses. She questioned me as to how she was waking the entire hostel up. I complained to reception this morning before work and one of them heard me so I had a nice little dispute with a roommate. Since coming home, Psycho Bitch and none of my roommates bar the ones I like have spoken to me which is very very nice, though I do now have to stop breaking the rules so blatantly as one of them will dob me in.

This coming week I’m not too sure how busy it will be in terms of work; I’m hoping it’ll be busy as not only do I want the money but also to get out of here sooner rather than later. We think that the next few days will be busy as we weren’t working because of the rain, but if we do eight days in a row again at the same rate as today it may be a 53 hour work week.

26 Days a Melon Packer Left

I didn’t post an update yesterday because I spent 8 hours at my get-fired-if-you-turn-up-hungover job packing melons with a hangover, and I wanted nothing more to lay in bed with a pizza and watch movies when I got in.

Work has really picked up this week – I think that I’ll be able to save $1000 from this weeks’ payslip. Packing melons is getting really boring so I’ve been told off for pissing around at work; I’m going to have to behave myself for the next couple of weeks at least so that I can get out of here quicker.

During the week we’ve had a couple of piss-ups; Saturday night as usual which was pretty decent, though we had to pre-drink down the park due to the alcohol ban and Thursday night.

By now you would think that if my living conditions were to change, they could only get better: currently I’m in a three bed room the size of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs with no door to a six bed dorm, so effectively it’s a nine bed dorm. My stuff was organised in such a shit state that the owner just looked at me and said “what. the. fuck.” We have no air con – instead there’s fans that blow hot air around the rooms, WiFi has been banned unless you want to be robbed in daylight to use it at $2 an hour and I could probably go on for a while. The room next door has had their outside/front door confiscated because someone in the upstairs took a spring off their door – the owners got pissed off and wanted to prove a point. There’s now what is supposed to be a garage which has been turned into an eight bed dorm with no toilets, showers or kitchen so now our already overcrowded kitchen that I was under the impression I shared with seventeen other people I now share with 25, with two tea towels to last the day. There is also two bathrooms to share between all 26 of us.

I’m not too sure when my next day off is – tomorrow is day seven in a row and I’ve heard that rain is due so hopefully Wednesday we’ll be off. I’m going to stay a couple of weeks longer here because although I do just chat shit about it, I have grown to like it here and I also need to get extra days done as I’m pretty sure that if my visa application gets investigated, days that are two hours long that I’ve counted probably don’t count.

Bloody Melons

If anyone wants any idea how sick I am of melons, I dreamt that I was throwing up whole melons during the week. I also dreamt that I went back to my old job in London that I left because they treated me like shit because I didn’t want to see another melon.

Bit of a same shit/different day week. Not as much work as last week, and spent the start of the week recovering from the weekend. Monday and Tuesday I worked with Tuesday spending 3.5 hours straight of packing melons before a break – usually we spend 2.5 hours max. We were off Thursday to Saturday, with work on Sunday. I didn’t go out Saturday night so I was the only backpacker not drunk at work.

It’s about halfway through autumn and I had to go out and buy a hoodie. It’s still hotter than the English summer during the day – around 27 degrees, but at night it is FREEZING. By that I mean around 20 degrees, and during the week I was half tempted to get in the pool but I wasn’t too sure if 28 degrees would have been comfortable. I have no idea how I’m going to cope in Melbourne.

Wednesdays are backpacker nights in the cinema so the tickets are cheaper so I went out with some people from work – we saw Guardians of the Galaxy which was brilliant, then decided to see the next movie, Fast and Furious which was alright. Before anyone asks, we did actually buy tickets for both showings.

I mentioned in a previous post that we’re not allowed nice things. They took away our wifi, they took away our alcohol and now they took away our adopted/possibly kidnapped hostel cat. To add to that, an alcohol ban is in place because everyone who went out last night got absolutely twatted. Me being me, I managed to borrow a movie collection from someone at work which for sure will see me through the next couple of months here so now I have something to do in the evenings.

Melons Melons Melons

I have honestly never seen so many melons in my life.

Like the previous week, Saturday had taken a couple of days to recover from and Monday we didn’t get our lay-in. There is always a first time for everything, and this week I had to ask a work colleague if they were responsible for me waking up next to a McDonald’s breakfast.

The first couple of days were spent packing watermelons; I wouldn’t be surprised if we did hundreds of tonnes over two days. On Monday my job was to look at a conveyor belt for seven hours to make sure that the melons didn’t get stuck or fall off. Tuesday started with throwing watermelons to/at people depending on how big they were to sort them, then after a break I was back to looking at them. I really do think that I have found my calling, and that is throwing and catching melons, though I am terrible at throwing them up into a truck – instead they hit the side of the truck, break and go bloody everywhere then I get moaned at.

We also did a ten hour shift; it got to the point where I was debating whether or not to pretend to collapse to get out of it. Other people were considering taking themselves out with blunt force by melon. Around nine of us sorted 24 trucks.

One thing we were not warned about was how much it hurts to have a melon hurled straight at your hand off of a conveyor belt. During the week I was leaning on a conveyor belt and a melon just flew at me and pinched the skin down and Jesus Christ did that hurt and require several swear words. I also thought that I broke a finger at one point when a melon came at me from out of nowhere

Another injury I had this week is absolutely ridiculous, as in perhaps the most stupid thing I’ve ever been admitted to hospital for. I really over-enthusiastically got into the van for work and smashed my head on the frame – all my body weight going straight for the head. I was OK during the day but the next I had a migraine all day, not helped by the fact that the melons are fluorescent. I went to the hospital and got told that I gave myself whiplash from getting into a car.

Of course, last night we went out, and of course, we are in recovery mode. Yesterday, I went out with some girls from work who wanted to watch the local rugby, then we also went out in the evening at our regular three spots. I came back to the hostel and one of the girls from next door was sleeping in my bed so I hung around for a bit and did my laundry, then ended up going to bed at midday.

Running out of melon-themed titles

Monday, we were back at work. It was one of those days where I was more thankful than normal that we leave the hostel at 10.30am and not 5.30am as last Saturday night took a while to recover from. Our payslips over the past month have failed to cover our rent, yet alone food and beer money, but next week it’s meant to get busy. Friday night someone asked me if I wanted anything from the supermarket and I replied with “a payslip that gives me enough money to last the week,” and the owner of the hostel was stood right next to her. Whoops. There has definitely been a lot of bad timing like that over the past week.

Monday next week we have to pick up watermelons all day so that’s one new back ache to get to terms with, as well as waking up at 5.30am. We managed to work a 5.5 hour shift on Friday which has left the week with 43 work days left to go until I can leave; hopefully it’ll be around the mid-June mark.

It seems as though we aren’t allowed to have nice things or have fun here; once the alcohol ban was lifted, the free-but-not-supposed-to-be-free WiFi was replaced with $2/hour WiFi and no one can connect to. We think that someone accidentally dobbed us all in by complaining that their internet had stopped working when it wasn’t supposed to work anyway. We have gained one good thing: a cat. It turned up on Easter Sunday, no one knows where it came from but it must like all the attention and petting it receives.

Saturday was a retro fancy dress night at one of the bars we frequent. As we weren’t working on Sunday we scooped our watermelons out and made ourselves a nice little cocktail with our contraband stash of cheap wine (my status in what I should’ve been fined for must be at the $3000 mark and haven’t been fined a dollar.) It was a pretty good night out, though my memory is a bit patchy. During the night I bumped into one of my supervisors from work who lost her brother and had no phone battery so I took her back to the hostel to charge her phone so she could ring him. I’m assuming this morning she came back to the hostel because I woke up next to a Macca’s breakfast. There would be some pictures from the night but I’m using my phone data.

I’ve been having a bit of a research on places to visit in Asia, in particular the ones that I don’t know too much about; I want to be getting back in the swing of things and ending up travelling how I was last year. Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been to South-East Asia has had an absolute blast there, so Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Burma are on the cards for next year. I’m also intending to visit China, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as perhaps a tour of India. Within the next month I should be booking flights for going to Tokyo – a direct return flight from Melbourne is £400 which really isn’t bad.  I really am lucky to be able to just ditch the life that everyone expects you to have as in sticking with a job, buying a house etc, and instead pissing around somewhere in the world, enjoying my 20s and just not giving a shit about half the stuff I’m supposed to.

More Melons & More Beer

It looks promising that within the next week or more likely two I’ll be hitting the halfway point of the farm work. It’s frustrating that I’ve been living here for two and a half months and still not quite halfway – I’ve had a couple of shifts this week packing melons and it looks like work is going to pick up soon. We’ve been told since February that work will pick up in a few weeks every time we ask, but now should be the time of year where it actually does.

Because half the hostel left a couple of weeks back, I am #3 on the work list. This also means that not only am I the source of all information regarding food and whether or not it’s ok to eat because I’m a chef, I am the also source of information within this house of how everything works. Anything including explaining why the work list doesn’t mean shit, when work will come, how hot it is, why it’s so hot, why the internet is so slow, why the internet is so shit, what you’ll get fined for and the stuff that has happened so far that I hope we’ve not lost our bonds for – definitely a story for when I’ve left.

Monday night we had a movie night – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Tuesday We’re the Millers and Step Brothers in the TV room – a glorified shed. The mosquitos here are absolute shits – the little buggers bite through clothes.

On Wednesday we went to the park for a BBQ as there’s still this bloody alcohol ban and was a pretty fun evening. We would’ve done it in the hostel if we were allowed to have fun – it’s an instant $200 bond loss if we get caught drinking in the hostel. Thursday we went out, as well as the regular piss-up on Saturday.

Thursday night was fun; there was a DJ night at the bar we usually go to but we got there too late, instead we came back to the hostel and got told off once again. Luckily I was upstairs having a cheese toastie when the bollocking took place so I maintain my good-behaviour status. The alcohol ban is supposed to be lifted on Tuesday but depending on our behaviour over this weekend so it will probably get lifted like never.

Before going out on Saturday there were a few drinking games as well as a game of twister that someone picked up from the Reject Shop – just a few dotted stickers to put on the floor. On Saturdays we go to a few bars – Chlamydia (not the actual name but easier to say), Tav (once again not the actual name) and then to a club that gives out vouchers for one free drink and we usually somehow manage to get a few.

This coming week kind of sounds promising for work; we are definitely working tomorrow what will hopefully be a long shift because of the bank holiday. Apparently from the 22nd or something the melons will be getting picked like crazy.

From Planting Melons to Packing Them

This week started with weeding; the same as Sunday. The owner of the hostel volunteered me to ride shotgun and navigate the journey, my directions being along the lines of “it’s left here or the next one… its the next one… oh shit slow down it’s this one… it’s the next roundabout SHIT IT’S THIS ONE.” This time I did not have the previous nights antics to blame for it being such a horrendous shift, nor had I woken up in my work clothes just in case I’d be running late during the morning. We were crawling through the field picking weeds for five and a half hours which was soul destroying.

Tuesday was back to packing melons. It’s an easy job – the guys have it easier than the girls who put melons in a box. Wednesday and Saturday were the same. What happens is melons get brought into the packing shed on this conveyor belt which weighs, then drops them at a certain point down a ramp where we stand to pack them. Depending on how big they are depends on how many per box. I’m back working tomorrow and after that will be 48 days left to go, having worked 40. It feels great to be in the 40s as it’s nearing the halfway point, and then I’lll be counting down the work days until I leave this hostel and never come back here again.

Check out my melons – they’re actually toad fruits – like a honeydew melon on the inside.

Last night was the regular hostel piss-up; I’m getting bored of visiting the same three places every Saturday. As we still have a drinking ban because we sneak alcohol in the hostel, we poured beer into tinted bottles and played a couple of drinking games indoors where there is no CCTV we completely followed the rules regarding this.

During the week I’ve had a bit of a Harry Potter marathon – it’ll be completed today with a Domino’s during the last movie. After having worked on farms for a couple of months I know what to do if someone gets bitten by a snake (well I hope I do) and I was watching the second movie. I just wanted to shout at the screen when Harry was sodding around after getting bitten.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve started to notice that it is autumn. By autumn, I mean around the 30 degree mark – it is still hotter than the middle of the summer in the UK, but it no longer feels as though we are living in the depths of hell, though I’m still waiting for it to be t-shirt weather and not vest weather. The Northern Queensland autumn is making a UK heatwave look cute. I’ve also lately had new roommates – apart from the two of us who arrived during the first week, the seven others in the room are new. It’s like being in bloody Germany at the moment – five out of the nine of us are German, and there’s usually a German or two visiting the room.

I was going to go to Bali after farming, but at the moment the cheap flights are at inconvenient times – Townsville doesn’t seem to be the best place to fly to Bali. If I were to land at say 3pm in Bali, it’d be a $500 flight with a layover. Instead, I’m looking at doing a tour around the red centre and then try Bali another time.

Cyclone Debbie and a Great Big Piss-Up

A friend in England replied to my snapchats on Tuesday saying “what the fuck are you doing?”

Well, seven of us from the hostel ended up in a shelter for a couple of nights, and consequently ended up appearing in the Brisbane Times, BBC News and in the news on Belgian TV.

There was a category five cyclone destined to hit the town that I’m staying in on Monday so we had a choice of evacuating to Cairns, going to a cyclone shelter or hoping that the hostel lives up to its cyclone rating. Bearing in mind that I could not be arsed to pack and leave for Cairns and that the ceiling fan in our cyclone-rated room blows our door open, I ended up going to the shelter where we spent 40 hours. I had literally ten minutes to pack so I packed a pillow case instead of a bag because it was easier.

What I usually end up getting in trouble for is making a sarcastic comment at the wrong time, and it could’ve happened in the shelter. A journalist from the Brisbane Times asked me if I was still expected to pay my rent in the hostel, to which I laughed and made a sarcastic comment. Quite glad that we only had a picture on the internet. As for the BBC News, I now have celebrity status in the hostel as I was on BBC News and BBC Worldwide, and it seems like the only thing that they showed was me saying that I wanted a bed and a food – to be fair, that usually is the case whether or not I’m locked in a shelter.

7 News Australia tried to interview us, too. Looking back, it would’ve amused us to just pretend that we didn’t know that there was a cyclone coming and that we were just squatting until we got kicked out because it was free accommodation.

The shelter wasn’t that exciting; we were just tracking Debbie and playing Uno. She’s received a fair bit of abuse from us, and if anyone had overheard us and not known that it wasn’t a human we have been speaking about all week, we’d be in shit. We were tracking it for the whole time; it was delayed by a few hours five times, then it was destined to miss us completely. Domino’s was still open, and someone ordered a pizza and had it delivered through the window.

One good thing has come from this: Debs did not ruin my seven week Sunday Domino’s streak.

The days after the cyclone there were quite a few people leaving the hostel which meant going for a drink. One drink turned into several more and the best night out that I’ve had in this town – it is one very good story, though for now the less I write about it on the internet, the better. There is still an alcohol ban that I don’t quite understand in the hostel after the non-visit from Debbie which has quite obviously not been complied to. Whilst in bed and still drunk on Friday morning, I was asked if I could drive to one of the farms to replace someone working – luckily I had a more acceptable reason for saying no other than the fact that it would have been illegal for me to drive there. Instead, I ended up doing a short shift planting.

We also had the regular Saturday night piss-up – I had work the next day and was intending to be sensible. Thankfully, it wasn’t that hot compared to usual during the shift as it would’ve been a struggle – we really were not sensible.