I feel like I’ve passed the point of no return. Not that I won’t go back to Belgium, that’s not what I mean. What I do mean is the fact that I’ve started working and will do so for 3 months or 88 days. No way back: I’ve started and I will continue! Though my start has been quite rough.. Mentally as well as physically.
Last Wednesday was my last day (for now) in Canberra. I didn’t do much that day, except for – again – some walking. First to the Australian Institute of Sports to gather some information on possible jobs there. After that, I walked around via ANZAC Parade, Blamey Square and the Carillon. Weirdly enough, I felt kind of nostalgic. For the first time I was about to leave an Aussie city with a feeling of “damn, I wish I could’ve stayed longer”. Might be because I now didn’t leave the city to travel but to start working..
Thursday morning was the moment of change. I took the bus to Bungendore and got picked up by Brad and Al. Brad is the manager of ‘Gidleigh Station’ where I’ll be staying and working, while Al is the only other full-time employee on this 6000 acre (around 2500 hectare) domain. The farm has sheep, pigs, cattle, truffle trees, its own vegetable garden and so on. It also includes a large homestead (Al told me it has 14 bedrooms!) that will be used to in two weeks house a rugby team that’s coming to town for a fundraising game. That homestead is now being renovated and prepared for their arrival.
It was a very misty morning, that Thursday, and arriving in the middle of nowhere in that kind of depressing weather to notice you’ll be staying in a “backpacker’s area” consisting of very basic sheds… Not what I was expecting. I will need time to adjust to this lifestyle as I’ve never lived like that before. Furthermore, the living area is quite big and has a tv, dvd player and pool table, but no heating which makes it very, very cold. The kitchen isn’t too big but has everything it needs. The entire backpacker’s area is made out of wood and there seems to be dust everywhere. Same goes for the bedrooms where the bed is basically just a wooden plank with a mattress on it. I must say I don’t sleep too bad though, so that’s fine. Thanks also to the electric heater in the bedroom! Then, the sanitary stuff… let me just say that the ones I had on the camping lot in Brasil were a lot better.. I especially am not a fan of the fact that it takes a fifty meter walk to get from the bedrooms to the toilet block and that’s not exactly what you want to do at night, knowing there might be snakes and spiders around.
Also, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to do here for like weekends or days off. There’s no wifi at all, with the consequence that I won’t be able to go online on my tablet, except for when I use my Australian mobile phone as a wifi hotspot. Yet still, that won’t make me capable of using Skype to get in touch with my family and that’s something I will miss..
Anyway, about the job then. It’s fun and intensive! All transport on the farm happens by ute or by quad bike or motor bike. I haven’t ridden the motor bikes yet, but I did have a go at the quad bikes and the utes and so I’ve for the first time ever driven a car while sitting on the wrong side of it.. The quads are fun as well, but have to be driven carefully on the dirt roads around here.
In my first two days here, I have sprayed the weed between the truffle trees, moved some dog sheds, learnt how to fix leaking taps and how to trim hedges, splitted wood, moved a lot of rocks, that kind of stuff. In the next weeks and months, there will be a lot more stuff to do, such as weeding, painting, mustering cattle, fixing fences, feeding animals, and so on. A large variety of tasks and that makes it exciting.
It all means that arriving here felt like running into a wall. I am twenty-nine years old and realised more than ever that I can’t do anything, that I can’t take care of myself. What if I had started living on my own in Belgium being who I am? What would I have done if I had had a leaking tap somewhere for example? I miss that kind of basic knowledge and should’ve realised that years ago already. In other words: I got a huge wake-up call.
On the other hand, it also motivates me. I will prove that I’m not such a loser. I will prove that I can take care of myself. I don’t know how, just by trial and error probably. I will and shall overcome these three months. For me and for that 2nd visa. While doing so, I will hopefully learn a lot. Hopefully prove myself to those who underestimate me (myself especially). Hopefully learn how to cook properly. Hopefully be capable to do some proper gardening. Anyway, you get the picture: This is the wake-up call I absolutely needed and why I came to Australia for in the first place. To finally be more independent.
I just still wonder what I’ll be doing on my free time here. There really is nothing to do around the backpacker’s part of the farm. The owner of the farm is also the owner of a hotel/bar in Bungendore though, so maybe I can work there as well on a couple of my days off. Also, Canberra is only a little hour away and since the two weeks that I spent there, Canberra kind of feels like my new comfort zone, so it’s good to have it nearby as a sort of safehouse to go to even if it’s just to be able to take a decent shower in a proper bathroom. I’ve also been told that the beach is only a one and a half hour drive away and I might as well go there one day as the YHA Canberra Central receptionist told me that Broulee and Rosedale beaches are hugely recommended. But staying here, without any wifi but with Australian tv (that shows more commercials than actual tv), doesn’t seem like something I will be able to do every weekend for three months. That TV is a good thing though. Today (Saturday, so weekend!) for example, I watched the Cricket World Cup game between Australia and Scotland while I yesterday watched the soccer game between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory. Tomorrow then, I will hopefully be able to watch the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix!
So I really hope to be able to find a place that has wifi nearby. Yes, I know, I’m a bit addicted to internet. But the idea of having to wait until the 23rd or 24rd of April (when I go to Canberra for ANZAC Day) to be able to catch up with my family through Skype… That’s a really long time. I don’t know how I will go through these three months, what I will do, if I will manage. My first day off was a good one though and the two other guys (Arne and Jacopo) that are staying here seem to be good guys as well. Brad also told me that Jacopo is quite the good cook, so maybe he’ll teach me!
Everything will be fine, I’m sure. After three days here, the shock of the big change on Thursday morning has passed. I’m starting to feel more comfortable here. Everything will be ok, of course i twill. Not that I’m already used to this lifestyle or have learnt everything already, of course not, but I have already gained some confidence I think.
More than ever, this is adventure. More than ever, this is working on myself. More than ever, this is learning. More than ever, this is me learning to be more independent. More than ever, this is me growing up. More than ever, this me – hopefully – getting more self-confidence. I need this. And I will complete this. No doubt about it.
‘Gidleigh Station’, about twenty minutes from Bungendore..