When I lived in Australia I fell in love with the place, the work opportunities are better than the UK, less hustle and bustle and…of course the weather! I wanted to stay here forever, or at least one more year, so I called the Harvest Line – they set you up with regional work, so that you can extend your working holiday visa, I said they could send me anywhere!
“No problem” they said “how does packing oranges sound, for $18 per hour” fantastic, the next day I was on a train heading straight for Dubbo – the largest farming town in NSW, it seemed like a village to me, it had a supermarket a bar and a library not much else to wright home about.
It was around 10pm when I arrived, I waited at the station when a man in a van came to pick me up, he was grumpy and merely grunted when I said hello, I was growing increasingly nervous. He dropped us at a rundown old shack of a house, grabbed my backpack, threw it by the front door and left. I knocked, and a seemingly insane Irish man named Derrick opens the door. He let me in, unaware that anyone else would be joining him this evening he was shocked by our sudden arrival. Everyone else was away planting trees; he showed me and my boyfriend to a room. It was a mattress on the floor with no sheets, covered in another couples belongings! Another knock at the door, four German lads are also here for the night, they laugh at the state of the place, the kitchen was filthy, there was a mice infestation and a few holes in the walls, but this is where Derrick, a man who had no idea that he was about to have a bunch of strange people walk into his house lived, and taking photos of it all was a bit much…besides compared to where I had just spent three months living this place was the lap of luxury.
Derrick although looking absolutely insane (he says this himself) was one of the nicest, friendliest people I had ever met, he filled us in on the situation…we would not be receiving $18 per hour it would be $15, rent, travel and material expenses would also be deducted from our wages and we would not be packing oranges but picking flowers. This was the most upsetting conversation that I had ever had in my whole life. He said that we were lucky, for the past two and a half months the other residents of the house had been planting trees for 2cent per tree and had all got into debt to pay the rent and travel. Shocked that this was allowed to happen and not illegal, I struggled to sleep, knowing that I would be having a real crappy day.
The following morning I was awoken before sunrise and piled into a car that stopped at a hostel and other houses around town picking up workers. We drove for a few hours until we reached a field of Cornella Flowers. Our mission was to pick every single male plant from the rows and leave in the female. This field was about two miles long and many of the flowers where nearly as tall as me.
The, plants seemed to be moving, however on closer inspection almost every flower had a bee on it, panic set in, my heart rate was going through the roof, I was sweating, unable to breath and motionless. Everyone else began to walk into the rows and I just cried, I couldn’t do it, they are the most terrifying thing on the planet, flying needles just waiting to attack you – and they actually wanted me to just voluntarily go frolicking with them, no thanks.
After some words of encouragement and a reminder that I had spent the last of my money getting here and would be out on my ass if I didn’t do it, I walked amongst the flying devils. I screamed, I cried, I had a nervous breakdown but I did it. What I didn’t do was actually sort out any flowers, so was sent back to the beginning by the sadistic farmer to relive the terror.
At the end of my first day I had, faced my biggest fear and was quite proud, after doing that how much worse can things really get?
To Be Continued…