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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.