Hello to all backpackers or would be backpackers!
I am Joana, 20 years old and I have been in Australia since December 2019. My first month here was great. I had a really great time in Noosa getting over my jet lag and on the training farm getting ready for farm work.
On the training farm
I want to be completely honest with you about my experiences so far, so I’ll start from scratch:
Before I came to my current farm I was at a racing stud, which means I trained and groomed young horses to be sold when they were two or three years old. I would say that I wasn’t given the responsibility there that was necessary to do the job properly. Right from the start I was not liked by another backpacker who had been on the farm for a longer time (four years). She went out of her way to make my work difficult and took away any chance of me really getting into the job!
When I stood up for myself, she only replied that I should pack my things and leave … I had hoped that my boss would be on my side, as I obviously wasn’t treated fairly (I was supposed to do a mountain of work after normal working hours), but unfortunately he wasn’t, and out of frustration I simply quit!
The racing stud
That month at the racing stud was not very nice for me. I had no one to talk to, let alone do anything with. The people from the farm weren’t interested in doing anything with me and we only talked about work. The opportunity to meet people outside was very limited as I could only go into town once every two weeks to buy food. I also had no car and the town was at least an hour away.
Nevertheless, I thought all the time: you will manage somehow and earn the money for your trip! I always had my goal clearly in mind and therefore I didn’t really care about the rest. So you can probably imagine how upset I was when I quit my job and didn’t know where to go and what to do now. All my dreams were shattered…
So I contacted the training farm. For those who don’t know, they work with Australian Experience and are the ones who trained me and organised my job. I was in tears when I phoned them, and fortunately I was answered immediately. The people from the training farm were there for me in every way. They first calmed me down and told me that everything would be fine, and then organised a new job for me within an hour.
I really had no expectations when it came to choosing a job. I just wanted a job that made good money. The job description was short: no skills required; live in a farm house with a father and son (mother deceased); cook and clean mostly and help a little with the farm work.
It turned out a little bit differently, but for the better :)
In mid-February I arrived at the sheep station where I would be working, about 60km from the small town of Hughenden in central north Queensland. I was a little apprehensive to begin with being a woman alone on a farm pretty much cut off from the outside world.
The farm is huge. When you grow up in Germany, you have no comprehension of such big farms. At least I didn’t, and was completely overwhelmed by it. 10,000 hectares of land around two medium-sized houses with about seven to ten thousand sheep, a few hundred goats and cows and five dogs, countless kangaroos and a few snakes. I have so far made the acquaintance of a Blackhead Python, a Brown King Snake and a few orange snakes that I can’t identify. But none of the snakes wanted to attack me or something similar.
What snake is it ???
I live here on the farm mostly alone with Tom. He’s my boss. His father usually lives in the nearby town and only comes to the farm on special occasions. During the holidays Tom’s son is also here sometimes. So for the first three months I was the only woman here on the farm, and I have to say that contrary to my expectations it went really well (no pick-up lines or silly remarks).
In the meantime another backpacker girl has arrived here on the farm, which I am really happy about. Normally I live alone in the main house, where we also eat and wash. When Tom’s father, other backpackers or workers visit the farm, they live with me in the house. Tom and his son live in the so-called ‘cottage’, a smaller house down the street (if you can call it a street).
My main tasks are cooking, cleaning, walking the dogs, cleaning water troughs, taking care of the lambs that have been abandoned by their mothers, gardening and of course all sorts of work with the sheep – sometimes castrating and tagging them or getting the sheep from the paddocks, during sheering time. So really everything from A to Z.
The other animals here are 99% wild and are only kept for meat, except the dogs of course. The main income here on the farm is from the sale of wool from the sheep.
I have one day off a week, but that can vary quite a bit here. Sometimes I have half a morning off and the next day half an afternoon off, or sometimes Sunday or Tuesday. It all depends on what work has to be done on at the farm. When I have a split days off, I usually don’t do anything big. I always have to cook in the evening on my day off, and if I have a whole day off, then the city is usually just too far away for me to do anything big, and I’m alone here. Often I simply don’t find the motivation to leave the farm. But then I watch the sunset, draw/design a lot, do yoga or workouts. The day off is always something like a spa day for me.
Now that Corona is “out there”, as I always say, the opportunity to meet people or go to town is zero, which is perfectly understandable. Many of my friends have long since gone home and are worried about me now that there is no turning back – no flights, curfew, all borders are closed etc. But it was clear to me from the beginning: I’m staying here! This journey is my dream and I won’t give it up that fast!
I am having a lot of fun here. The atmosphere is very familiar and 99% cheerful! Even if the working days are long and my back and feet sometimes hurt, I always keep going. It’s great here and I love to see what I’ve done at the end of the day, go home at sunset and enjoy a cool drink. This gives me a lot of satisfaction.
I wish everyone who takes such a journey such an incredible time and can only recommend it to everyone!
Joana sent us this report at the end of April 2020.
Here once more all images (click to enlarge):