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Gidleigh Station (2): The Selfinterview
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Gidleigh Station (2): The Selfinterview

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Home Experiences Australia 2014-15 Gidleigh Station (2): The Selfinterview

G’day mate! How’s it going over there in Oz?

You should know that, mate, as you’re interviewing yourself, but yeah, I’m all good!

Alrighty. So you’ve been working for over 1,5 weeks now… “Finally”, I reckon?

Yeah, definitely. The burden of not finding a job started to become heavy to bear, but it all worked out ok in the end. In about three months, I will be eligible for a second working holiday visa for Australia and that’s a happy prospect!

Sounds great! The job seems pretty nice as well too, with a nice variation in tasks.

I am learning so much here, no doubt about that. Riding a quad bike, mustering sheep and cattle on the quad bike, fixing leaking taps, cleaning bricks and rocks with a power cleaner, chopping wood, trimming hedges, that kind of stuff. Even just looking at how other people work is something I learn a lot from. Like the way Richie built the entertainment area around the homestead (with a barbecue, a large fireplace and a pizza oven) or the way Al ties knots in ropes.

And above all of that, there seems to be enough room to relax and have fun, like with that rugby game that’s coming up!

That’s next weekend and you can be assured that I’m looking forward to that! The owner of this farm is Richard Harry, a former rugby union player who was part of the ‘golden generation’ of Australian rugby. He played for the Wallabies – the Aussie national rugby team – in the second half of the nineties and won pretty much everything there was to win with that team, including the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Now, it’s that team (or a large part of it) that is going to stay here on the farm from Friday until Sunday to on Saturday play a fundraising game in Bungendore against the Australian Defence Force. By the looks of it, I will be able to attend that game and as the players will all be staying here in Gidleigh, I might be able to meet some of them. An honour!

I can imagine, for a sports fan like you/me! So the working atmosphere must be good as well then?

During my stay here, I have up to now mostly been working together with four people. Brad, the manager, Al, a guy with a hell of a lot of experience and the only other full-time employee of the farm, Richie, the Irish lad who builds that new entertainment area next to the homestead and Arne, another Belgian backpacker/traveller who already is going through his second year of working holiday visa but decided to come back to Gidleigh (where he already worked while on his first visa) because he liked it here so much.

Working with Brad, Al en Richie has been going very well, but with Arne it’s a bit more difficult. We get along very well outside of the working hours, but when we work together it is kind of frustrating for Arne that I don’t have any farming experience yet and don’t think too practical/logical in certain situations. As he then gets frustrated, I get more stressed and start doubting myself, which ends up in a bad day of work for the both of us. It also makes me doubt whether or not I will be able to do this job properly, which is why I walked up to Brad last Thursday to get some feedback, a mini evaluation if you wish, about how I’ve been doing so far. Both Brad and Al were very reassuring. They understand that it takes time to learn the job and they reckon I’m definitely doing ok. Richie has been giving me a lot of self-confidence as well. From trusting me enough to use his car to go buy stuff in Bungendore to complimenting me on my brick cleaning job in saying “You did a fucking good job, buddy. It looks perfect.”. It’s always nice to work with people who don’t only correct you when you’re wrong but also compliment you when you’re doing good!

But on the other hand: you’re not getting paid..

Ah well, I don’t care. This entire trip in Australia costs me a lot of course, so some extra money would’ve been nice, but I’m still only 29 years old you know.. I probably have another forty years of working ahead of me, so that’s plenty of time to gain money. I’m on this trip for the experience, the cost of it is something I’ll earn back later. No worries.

A three month job, that’s until half June. What will you do after that? Back to Belgium?

Not immediately.. My flight back to Belgium will be in either the first or the second weekend of August. So between half June and August, I will have another month and a half to travel around. I am thinking of going up the Aussie east coast then. Although I might as well be going to Tasmania or the West Coast or maybe to Thailand or Fiji for a week. There’s still enough time to decide, but right now I’m thinking I’ll go for the east coast.

What about ANZAC Day by the way.. Already any certainty about if you’ll be in Canberra?

Yes! I’m leaving Gidleigh on the 23rd of April, in the evening after work, and I’ll return on the 1st of May in the early morning to get straight back to work then. That’ll give me seven full days in Canberra and a welcome break to recover from the hard work 😉

In Canberra, you might see Aimee back, who you met on the trip through the Northern Territory, but at the same time more and more of the people and friends you got to know in Australia are going back to their countries again… Mixed feelings?

Definitely. I’m sure there are others that I will see back again someday, no doubt there. I might see Axel if I were to go to Perth before I return home, or I can run into Conor and/or Joy somewhere as they are also working on getting a second visa. There are more examples of course, but for other people it will be difficult to meet them again. Florent, Meghan, Stephanie, Céline, Renske, Kapo, Dean and Yurina, Alicia, Justine, Katie, Yusseff, Elena, Nick, Leni, … They’ve all returned home already and that pretty much sucks.

Of course, it’s all part of the travelling of course. You meet people, but you leave them just as fast. It’s a weird feeling, as you bond quite easily with all of them since you’re going through the same situation: backpacking and travelling on your own. So that bond makes it hard to say goodbye sometimes. Yet on the other hand it is so much fun to meet people from all over the world and to know that there are now so many countries that I can go to where I actually know someone who lives there!

That’s so true! One unrelated final question though… You’re living in the Aussie outdoors now, does that also mean you’ve had your fair share of encounters with snakes, spiders and other dangerous animals?

Right on my first day here in Gidleigh, both Arne and Brad told me about the tiger snakes, brown snakes and spiders that can be encountered here on the farm.. They’ve told me what to do in case I’d see one of them, but still, I’m not convinced I won’t panic if it does happen. Yet, so far, I haven’t witnessed any of them, so I’m hoping it stays like that.

I’m hoping the same!

Cheers, mate!

20150318 Foto mustering

4 Comments

  • Alizée says:

    Wow, I just stumbled upon your article and it’s like really weird for me to read… I know the people you mentioned and I can totally relate to all the things you wrote about. I worked in Gidleigh one year before you, during Arne’s first stay at the farm. Your articles made me feel so nostalgic about this place. I know my comment comes late but I don’t know, I needed to say something. Do you still keep in touch with Brad, Al or even Richard? I would love to know how they’re doing. I miss Australia a lot, even 4 and a half years later… Hope I’ll get the chance to go back there one day. 🙂 PS: I am also from Belgium, it’s funny how Belgian people always find their way to their fellow countrymen while traveling abroad!

    • Cédric says:

      Hey Alizée! So cool to hear from you! I have been back to Gidleigh in March and then I saw Al and Brad again, which was great. I do follow Brad, Richard and Isabel on social media, but haven’t really heard from then recently to be honest. I’m happy to hear you also have good memories from Gidleigh. If you ever go back, feel free to let me know! I’ll send you an email with a bit more details 🙂

  • Jane Bennett says:

    Hi Cedric! I stumbled across your blog only recently, so will be reading your account of life in Gidleigh with great interest. Like a few more of your bloggers, I, too, spent time there. Two years approximately in fact. In my case however, it was a long time ago, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences there!

    I’ve since married. Ron and I initially worked in Hong Kong. I’m an Aussie however, and he’s a Brit, so a chance to revisit my home land and introduce Oz to Ron was a no-brainer! Needless to say, he was blown away, and the main highlight was a visit to Gidleigh.

    When I was 8 or so, my mother worked on the homestead as a cook/housekeeper. We lived in a little cottage on the sheep station, which was then owned by Colonel and Mrs Rutledge and their young family. I recall the parents very kindly giving my brother and me a baby lamb as a pet. I was less thrilled by being given their son’s pyjamas at one point!

    In those days, Gidleigh had a tiny school, run by one lone teacher with an iron hand! The school room was not much more than a shed, and when it rained, there would be the earthy smell of the soil beneath. There were about six or so pupils of differing ages, whose parents were working on the property. Some of the lessons were broadcast from “the school the air”. Now, I imagine the children are taken into Bungendore by bus.

    The Rutledges welcomed us to the property, and it was amazing to revisit after all those years.

    Neither of my parents are alive now of course. My father was a painter and lectured at East Sydney Technical College, as it was then called. He lived for his art, so they struggled a bit. He would drive up from Sydney to Gidleigh from time to time, but the arrangement wasn’t ideal!

    I see on line that Colonel Rutledge died some time ago, and I imagine his wife has also passed away. I gather from your blog that the property has changed hands, but it would be nice to hear more of your experiences at Gidleigh whenever you get a moment. Ron and I now live in the UK, in the pleasant little town of Clare, Suffolk, but I have a soft spot for the property and the lifestyle I enjoyed as a carefree kid to this day!

    Very best wishes Cedric.

    • Cédric says:

      Hi Jane and Ron,

      Reading your comment has given me goosebumps. So interesting to read about this part of Gidleigh’s history I didn’t know of!

      I’m a bit overwhelmed by your story, but I am sending you a reaction via email right now. Would love to share some stories!

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