I must start by saying that the common hashtag 88 days a slave really is no joke. Especially not at our farm.
After a 16 hour coach journey, a bag full of PB and Nutella sandwiches, two riveting coach drivers either screaming at late people or boring us with his town facts, and Jayde getting her head stuck under the seat arm rest, we arrived finally in Bundaberg. To top off this amazing journey, we were notified that we were actually in Australia by some rowdy riff raff. Just in case we didn’t know, because we might have taken a 30 hour plane journey to Australia and thought we were still in England…
The funny thing about our arrival here is that we vowed never to do our farm work in this area. It’s notorious for dodgy farm work so naturally we decided this was a good idea… We actually had no other option but hey, what’s the worst that could happen right?
We arrived in Bundy at 4am, and waited outside an art gallery for an hour with three big rucksacks, 3 carry on bags, three handbags, one surfboard and a bag of crisps, because the hostel thought we were arriving the next day… great start. We were taken to a share house for the night instead of the hostel which seemed a bit sketchy to us but we didn’t really care after a day of no sleep. We instantly became those dickheads waking people up before their alarm went off, as we moved our bags in and made up our beds, which seemed to have a lack of pillows and duvets. Perfect when it felt about five degrees inside.
The next day we were meant to be picked up at 1pm and when we were still sat waiting at half past we started to question the validity of the place. We were picked up by a Korean girl and upon arriving at the hostel realised that the ratio of Koreans to Europeans was particularly high. However, we were told to leave our bags in the house, where we are also the only Europeans, so the chance of us moving into the hostel became slim. They became even more slim when we were told we would have to wait two weeks. Two weeks on and we still haven’t moved, other people have taken the spots so we’re left in the most unsociable house known to man.
Our arrival, to be blunt, was the opposite of what we expected. Not to mention that we had to pay a few weeks rent in advance and won’t get paid for two to three weeks. Unable to pay that much rent and having no money before we get paid we are now in arrears and after paying our debts, still won’t have any money. So all in all this may be a rather long process.
Thankfully we were put to work the next day, probably because they need our rent money, and we were up at 5am to pick cherry tomatoes for 9-10 hours. The tomatoes were the size of a 5 pence piece and whilst the Malaysians pick at a million miles per hour, we were taking a good minute to pick the tomato off the bush, drop it, pick it up, take the stem off and throw it in the bucket without missing. We had a lot of practicing to do that’s for sure. Aside from this, the rows were not only our source of money but also our toilet. If you need a wee then you go on your row and hope no one comes down to collect your buckets. If you need to poop … well, you just have to hope you don’t need to.
Thankfully the next day I was sent to the packing shed. So I rocked up in my hot pants and t shirt thinking it was going to be hot and sweaty work, necklaces on, rings on, hair down. Probably not the best first impression when I was supposed to be wearing long trousers, hair scraped back and no jewellery. Thankfully a friend lent me some joggers so I wasn’t fired on the spot! I was shown round by a Korean boy, and understood around 5% of what he said so I’m sure you can imagine that I got a full insight into what I had to do.
I was first put on packing where you basically run up and down a conveyor belt filling boxes with tomatoes whilst being shouted at by a Korean man stood on top of it. I think I was actually getting more of an experience of what a North Korean concentration camp would be like rather than backpacker farm work. The owner of the shed, an Aussie woman, occasionally came over and screamed at us for packing ‘bad’ tomatoes for a premium supermarket chain. I never knew people could give so much of a shit about what a tomato looks like. I actually started to make a game of trying to get away with packing as many under average tomatoes as I could in a slight plea of ‘screw you corporations’ wanting perfect tomatoes. I thought it coincided pretty well with me eating from the bakery for free in the supermarket every time I go in. After that I was put on another section of packing, separating tomatoes into three categories of “acceptable looking”, also explained in broken English, so I just decided to put tomatoes where I pleased.
Then, I was called into the office. This was it, I was being fired from the shed, I couldn’t even pack tomatoes…. thankfully I was actually just asked to do quality control paperwork for the tomatoes we sent off to be sold in supermarkets. I basically have to spend the day inspecting tomatoes, taking out and weighing the supposed ‘bad’ ones and adding and subtracting for the paperwork. It doesn’t really help that I’m basically numerically dyslexic. The Korean girl teaching me was beyond baffled that I couldn’t subtract the most basic of numbers, and when told to write the time in minute intervals for checks for some reason I decided to practice my five times tables counting the time. Could I do more to make myself seem retarded I ask myself daily now.
Unfortunately Abbie has been stuck on picking for most of the days which is becoming very tiresome and Jayde eventually got moved into the shed to work dispatch. She managed to nearly send a pallet of tomatoes to the supermarket next year… they might have arrived slightly mouldy in 2018. So all in all we’re both proving ourselves to be very clever individuals. They do say geniuses don’t get the simple things, so I think we’re just geniuses.
In other news, we found out that whiskey goon definitely should never be a thing, and stay firmly in the centre shit mix for ring of fire only… if that! In fact Jayde found out quite the hard way the effects of drinking this fatal concoction. We popped back over to our house to get changed to go out and after falling back down the garden steps onto her back, she proceeded to throw up into a frying pan, refuse to eat the raisin toast I made her because she “doesn’t like the black bits”, and pass out on the kitchen floor. Safe to say she had a great night, she even got lucky and took a ‘cuddle buddy’ to bed… a pan full of sick.
So besides working in a concentration camp and having to live in the most unsociable place known to man because the hostel has no room for us, we are still managing to have some funny times with new friends and have only shed a few tears. Things can only get better… right? Probably wrong knowing our luck but tune in next week to see what new stories we have.