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!