Easter on the Orchard
If I was to tell you that I’m currently working on an orchard picking apples in Australia, it’d sound all romantic and quaint. It would sound wrong. If I was to tell you that last week I spent 8 hours a day for 7 days straight climbing up and down a rickety ladder, getting scratched and bruised to the point where people now take a quick intake of breathe whilst looking at me, inhaled thousands of dead arachnid eggs and tons of powdery pesticide residue and earned about £40 a day (yes your maths is right, that is £5 an hour), you’d have a bit more of an idea of what I’ve been up to.
At those rates I’m not sure why I’m smiling in this picture.
“But why are you working in such a shoddy job when there £10+ an hour bar jobs in the city!” I hear you cry.
Because I am working towards my 88 days regional farm work which, once complete, will give me the opportunity to apply for a second year working holiday visa in Australia, should I wish to do so. At the moment I’m unsure whether I’d like to be in Australia for another whole year but so many people I’ve met here have said that they too weren’t convinced by Australia from the off and for the first 6 months they were sure that after their 1st years visa expired they would happily fly home and never regret the decision not to try for a second year. Then it was between months six and nine that something drastic clicked and they realised that they absolutely could not bare to give up the opportunity of another year in this glorious country they’d taken so long to, but had eventually, fallen head over heels in love with. I’m quite a way off this yet.
When I’m 8 foot up a Granny Smith tree with bugs and branches in my face I have often questioned what on earth I’m doing when I’m not sure I even want to spend 24 months in Australia, but I quickly remind myself that once this is done the ball will be in my court and I can travel Australia and patiently wait for this hulking great country to seduce me into staying another year. I’m almost positive it’ll happen, its just a matter of waiting for that magic moment.
Full bins on the farm, each bin is worth $37 before tax- so in a team of 4 that’s $9.25 each. Yes, your maths is right again- about £5.40 .
For the time being though we have been given the whole weekend off. I think this may be the only job I’ve ever had where I have been given the whole Easter weekend off regardless of whether I want it or not. Ironically, I don’t want it off, I want to work every day in order to complete my 88 days as soon as possible but alas, apples are apparently unpickable on religious holidays. You’d think after 7 days straight of apple picking we’d be quite keen for a few days off but theres very little to do around the house where I, and 23 other apple-picking backpackers are living. It is set on the outskirts of Shepparton surrounded for miles by apple and pear trees so in order to actually do anything much on a day off you need to walk into the town centre which is less of a leisurely stroll and more of a tedious trudge.
Someone once described their hometown’s terrain to me as ‘the sort of place you could watch your dog run away for days’. This sort of sums up Shepparton too. Put it this way, I walked for 5 miles from the centre of Shepparton to the house yesterday and took only 2 turns. The directions went something like; Take a left, walk for 3 miles. Take a right, walk for 2 miles. And you’re there.
On a positive note, it would be quite difficult to manage getting lost with these instructions but they do make for a rather monotonous hour and a half’s walk, especially when you’re carrying your camera with you eagerly awaiting an exciting photo opportunity only to realise 2 miles in that the view LITERALLY has not changed. The excitement of taking a right was almost overwhelming as a new road stretched out endlessly in front of me completely bypassing the horizon and continuing on FOREVER.
It’s after a few days off like this that you actually relish the idea of heading back into the orchard! I have been managing to find stuff to occupy me other than walking miles into Shepparton though; Reading on the kindle, watching documentaries (when the wifi permits it) and well… photographing the apples of course!