A Travellerspoint blog

Townsville P2

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As we became more comfortable in our environment & routines we found the weeks turn to months & went through roller coasters of emotion, particularly as my sales fluctuated drastically so I was glad when my boss Sam decided to send us on a weeks roadtrip to Mount Isa. The 5-6 hour journey passed quickly & we soon turned into the caravan park on the edge of town. It was a hot 40+ degrees in the barren, dustbowl, the places’ only purpose serving as a mining town, built on the slopes & valleys of the the desert along northwest Queensland & the Northern Territory.
Work was hard but people were easier to talk to so the sales flowed easier (especially as they had a lot of money to spend). The evenings were spent swimming in the pool & lazing around in the caravans swigging beer elated from working in the field. Because of this we returned to Townsville refreshed, if knackered, & pumped for a few weeks.
Coupled with the success I also had a fun day on the nearby Magnetic Island with Vicky, Justin & Becky for Vicky’s birthday hiring a 4 by 4 & driving across on the ferry to the lush, tropical place with few roads. There was only one real direction we could drive as the other was too treacherous even for a 4 wheel drive so we followed the dirt road uphill through a couple of small villages & down the other side round to the touristy Picnic Bay where we joined others in a picnic. Other than the tourists milling around it was a peaceful place & really relaxing but even the handful of pubs & restaurants would not be enough to keep us there longer than a day so after a short trek we drove back ready for anything.

Posted by Eemail2004 16.11.2012 20:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Townsville P1

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We arrived in Townsville an hour after leaving Ayr & were dropped off at the bus station which was luckily below our intended hostel. The Transit Hostel was in dire need of repair & a paint job both inside & out but still felt homely right from the start. We checked into a reasonably priced inner double room without a window & explored a bit. The hostel although above the station was not noisy. The main corridor from our room led down past the toilets to a small kitchen & then further on a lounge/t.v. area, complete with free pool table & an outside dining area where most of the backpackers were. We stayed there 2 months, getting to know some of the people quite well, particularly Sietze & Harriet who we took a gruelling hike up the infamous Castle Hill one of many green mounts sticking up out of the Townsville region, & the Kiwi cleaning couple Justin & Becky who were to later become our flatmates.
We found Townsville a dramatic change to the sleepy little Ayr. The city was filled with hostels, shops, bars & expensive restaurants to entertain & drain the wallet. The centre was small but the city stretched out into multiple suburbs each with their own malls/shopping centres dotted about. The area we were attracted to though was just outside the city centre in an area known as The Strand. This prime piece of real estate consisted of one long main road running along next to the beach with several smaller roads leading off to another main road with a small shopping centre. The beach although evidently man made was long & golden if a bit dirty & behind it joggers & families comfortably followed the concrete trail in the shade of a big barrier of trees down to the 'lagoon' saltwater swimming pool at the far end. The modern three storey buildings all along the road & behind were a mix of nice restaurants, hotels & apartments. Thanks to Justin & Becky we were lucky enough to stay in one of those apartments near the lagoon (which they had found as a short lease on gumtree website).
Our days were spent looking for work as we drifted from one job to another - Vicky starting in a kebab kiosk working late night into the early hours then moving onto the posh Bennies Hot Wok on Palmer Street the pleasant palmtree-lined road in the cbd filled with restaurants & some hotels that led to the habourside & our old hostel. Finally she got work at the cafe in the Lifesaving Club, a small 'hut' building by the beach across the road from our apartment. Unlike Vicky I couldn't handle the pressures of hospitality so after a brief spell doing just that at Jupiter Casino for Manpower temp agency I moved back into my newly discovered success of door to door sales. Responding to an online ad I joined Insight Marketing Group in the cbd & was taken under the wing of the kind, bubbly Aussie Les who showed me the technique for selling satellite t.v. The small office fluctuated as new people started & then left but I stuck at it getting promoted to the same level as Les after a few weeks of team leader. He became an amazing friend & we found ourselves sharing our lives with him either hanging out at his as he made his infamous beef burger patties or at our classy 2 bed apartment that came fully furnished with everything including big t.v, kitchenware, sheets, sofas, etc.

Posted by Eemail2004 14.11.2012 03:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 442 - 531 - Apples & Berries

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May we caught the bus down to Stanthorpe, a small town in southern Queensland following research on places to fruitpick in Queensland. With only six weeks picking under our belt from last year we needed to build up our time to qualify for a second year visa which was why we'd sacrificed our cushy lifestyle for something more testing & poorer paid.
Upon arriving in Stanthorpe we were subjected to icy temperatures unlike anything we'd known since Sapa in northern Vietnam!
We checked into our shared dorm hut in the hostel & had a wander round town. It was a cosy town. Afew shops, pubs & restaurants spread out over a half a kilometre ending near the river. It was sunny but chilly. In the evening we met our roomies, a mix of irish, german, dutch & english all scruffylooking after a hard days picking apples. This was the reason why we had come - to pick apples. For the next month we would be getting up at 5am, rushing hot porridge down our throats & being driven by the hostel owner Doug several kilometres out to the apple orchards. In the dark we would struggle up slippery wooden ladders in three layers of clothing to pick the icy apples in zero temperatures until the mornings heated up & we could shed layers. We would work in teams of 4+ with a lovely, mad girl called Lisa in fear of being fired for bruising the apples until one of the farmers took a liking to her. I would wrestle our beast of a tractor between the orchards, slopes & packing sheds pulling two to three big bins & we would make peanuts but at least earn enough to survive & count towards our visas. Evenings would be spent wrapped up tightly shivering in the canteen/kitchen whilst making dinner, warming ourselves in the heated hut or entertaining ourselves at the local Central pub. It was fun, we made some great friends & was worth the experience alone.
A month after our apple-picking began the season finished & we were left doing odd days picking berries whilst waiting for pruning to begin.
Sadly we were worst at pruning than picking so were fired half a day in.
As a result, left with no work we were forced to leave the area & find something further north through gum tree.
We caught the bus back to Brisbane then another several hours up to Ayr, north Queensland.
The temperature was a major shock as we transitioned from ice-cold south to hot, humid north in less than a day.
Wandering round in that kind of heat in the dark wasn't fun but luckily the town was small in an easy to navigate grid.
We found our hostel just down from the bus stop & checked into our double room, situated down a maze of corridors. We only stayed one night as the reason we had chosen the more expensive hostel was the pool which was toxic & the room itself wasn't even a proper room, more a hanger divided into sections with the walls not meeting the roof. One guy forgot his key so climbed over & every door slam shook the walls.
The day after we found a little further out of town (10min walk) The Lazy Lizard Lodge, a smaller, friendlier place with a nice communal area/t.v. lounge & kitchen & nice people staying who bothered to speak to us. The beds were in small dorm room huts & bigger metal sheds with double beds. Unfortunately we only stayed about an hour typically meeting some really cool people then got a phonecall confirming work at a farm in Dalbeg 1hr outside Ayr.
We took it as work was on a long waiting list in Ayr & we needed picking work asap. The only mode of transport, a local school bus drove us into oblivion (also known as the outback) & dropped us off at the side of a dusty, little-used road, exchanging places with the angry-looking backpackers waiting there.
We should have taken that as a sign of the hardships to come but we were just glad to be somewhere we could work for the last vital days needed for our visas. We walked up an long, equally dusty track past some tin structures to the farmhouse 'reception' where a kind, friendly girl signed us in. We were then led back round past the smaller metal huts to our dorm in a larger, pokey hut with 18 bunkbeds packed together & a bathroom in a hut behind. Suffice to say we spent more time outside, in the evening cooking in the open kitchen hut patiently waiting to use one of the 8 electric hobs (when the electrics didn't overload from dodgy wiring). For a week we got up at 6am, had breakfast then trailed up to the field, attached a bucket to our belt & 3/4hrs a day would drink little water in the harsh heat, & be bent double picking the correct sized squash (like pumpkins). The larger & spotty diseased ones we had to rip out whilst keeping up with the tractor conveyor belt & standing up to load the fruit onto the belt every 5-10 mins. Once finished we took lots of painkillers & often lay on a bag of ice from the agony for a bit then explored the outback especially the nearby river – watching out for crocs. Vix was moved jobs halfway through the week to pick packs of chillis off the bushes, paid per box until the delightful farmers' wife finally fired us. It was a relief & luckily we had done enough days to apply for our second year visa, so we returned to Ayr & civilization at out The Lazy Lizard & killed a few weeks cycling round town & down to the beach (2/3hrs away), drinking beer at the local pub & hanging out with other backpackers including an English couple Kim & Pete. After getting one days work picking zucchinis in the rain (carefully off the bush with a knife) we decided on a change of scenery & got a lift an hour north to a place called Townsville.

Posted by Eemail2004 14.10.2012 10:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 323 - 441 - Smart Days

The next few months were mainly about work. I bounced round from one team to another knocking on streets as bizarre as Gandalf Rd, Hollywood Ave battling for recognition & top scores in the company & hanging out with team mates/partying. It was a fun, wild time especially the roadtrips & I saw many people come & go.

February to escape the city me & Vix took a day trip to the beautiful Stradbrook Island off Brisbane's Cleveland rail line. It was cloudy but still pleasant. The ferry ride took less than an hour then we had to bus to the beach area. A walk along the boardwalk through tropical jungle watching out for drop bears (koalas) was followed by chilling on the beach cursing the overcast sky & enjoying a cool swim. A couple of beers at one of the few pubs in the small town & we were on our way back.

We also got to enjoy Australia Day, a public holiday celebrating Oz independence spending it in the park watching the military parades, various concerts, jet afterburns & an awesome firework display timed in perfect synch with music explosions of colour blasting from the barges, bridges & towers over a twenty minute period. Mind-blowing.

In March our team became the City Monkeys (through picking two words out a hat) it was our close-knit team, mainly backpackers from the UK & took part in the Quaterly Cup a countrywide sales competition over two weeks. With the first week on road trip we were able to rack up our sales so that by the end of the second Brisbane channel won it. As a reward me & nine others were flown to Cairns for an Easter weekend break. The self-catering apartments were plush & I only had to share the place with one other guy. Sadly, the sightseeing only lasted as far as the local bars due to the heavy drinking & constant rain. Still it was a nice break!

As the weather was constantly sunny we had plenty of BBQs at one of the many free BBQ spots in Brisbane. I had never spent so much social time with workmates!

The money was flowing in but our time was running out for our visa so we quit our jobs & spent some time with Uncle Kev visiting the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands - Kondalilla Falls where we traipsed through forest & jumped into cool freshwater pools by the waterfalls, before leaving Brisbane.

Posted by Eemail2004 03.09.2012 04:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 317 - 322 - Heading Into A New Year

Back in Auchenflower we got to know our housemates, Manny - the subletter, Jake, Rachel & a sweet Asian girl as well as our neighbours spending time hanging out, drinking & taking advantage of our jungle garden.
New Years eve we hung out with Joe at the neighbours & attempted to reach the firework display in the city before midnight. Unfortunately the trains were running behind & our long walk into the city proved nearly fruitless as we got to see very little, the explosions audible but the fireworks hidden behind the skyscrapers as we reached the centre. At least we got to spend time with our friends.

Posted by Eemail2004 02.09.2012 03:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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