After the job had finished, I decided to head up towards Brisbane as the busy tourist trap of the Gold Coast wasn’t really my scene and I wanted to meet a friend with similar plans. I met Thomas about a month ago over a ping pong table in another hostel.
We both wanted to travel around Australia some more and make some money at the same time, so we decided to try and work our way along the east coast. We left Brisbane on a train without tickets and started hitching from town to town, frantically searching online the whole time for farm work. After a while we fell into a rhythm: stick out thumbs in the morning, arrive in a new town after a few rides with unusual characters, scout out the small, dreary town, ask about work and rock up at the cheapest hostel, usually disappointed and without work. Wake up and repeat.
I was reminded of Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” where the promise of work drives a desperate american family across the state during the depression.
Disappointment aside, it was great fun travelling with a friend and we were joking and laughing most of the way (especially while hitchhiking).
You quickly adjust to a different way of life and moving every day is interesting and meditative.
Eventually our journey landed us in Bundaberg, a famous farming town in Queensland that produces a considerable amount of fruit and veg and after a quick look round, we were in a hostel and promised work within a few days.
The hostel housed about 100 people, approximately half south-east Asians and half Europeans, 60 boys and 40 girls, 2 showers, one toilet and one urinal between the boys and a small, shared kitchen for all to use. The wait for a shower after a day’s work was long and at around seven in the evening, the kitchen was hectic to the point where you could hardly get through to put your dishes away.
But it was all good fun. Most people were staying a long time (2-5 months) so making friends was easy and there was always someone to talk to at any time of the day.
Like when I was staying at la Calle la Libertad in Nicaragua, there was the same excellent exchange between the many different cultures. With a game of football bringing the guys together over the weekend.
Everyone was united by cramped living conditions and farm work. You were never alone and if you had had a bad day, there was always someone to relate to and laugh about it with. If you had questions about travelling in Australia, someone would have already been there, and if you wanted a game of ping pong, there was always an opponent.
I made some good friends and intend to keep in touch and visit them in the future.
While occasionally I missed peace and quiet, I enjoyed the communal living as I did in Nicaragua. I think people are herd animals that thrive when they work and live together. In England it seems the individual is becoming increasingly isolated; living alone in a small apartment they can’t afford and working at a job they don’t like, their identity lost and their nature unfulfilled.