The Life of a Fruit Picker

Trip Start Jan 28, 2006
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Trip End Feb 20, 2007


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Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

I arrived in Home Hill on July 2nd. As the coach neared Home Hill I began to panic. Looking out of the coach window I'd seen nothing but sugarcane and bush for miles around. I was hoping that Home Hill had a little more to offer then just fruit picking. The coach stopped in Home Hill, and as expected there was nothing. It's a small hick town with nothing but farmers and Aboriginal natives. I checked into the working hostel. It's a huge backpackers hostel with 81 beds tucked in every corner. It's a dodgy three tractor garage turned into a backpackers working hostel. The only way to secure accomodation here is if you are willing to work. After the first night I had been placed into my new job. The job was working on a capsicum farm. In Australia capsicums are what we call in Canada green, yellow and red peppers. For ten hours a day, six days a week my job is to pick capsicums as fast as humanly possibly. Four backpackers follow a tractor down a field flooded with capsicums. A conveyer belt leading back to the tractor sticks out infront of the fruit pickers. As the tractor moves along we rapidly pick capsicums we place them on the belt in what seems like a robotic motion. An average of three capsicums are picked per second. It's utter madness! After the first day I was so battered that I couldn't walk. I did it for one more day and quit. This was by far the worst job I've ever had.

I returned to the hostel after the second day of work expecting to be scolded and maybe sent on my way for quitting. Instead, the hostel owner was fairly understanding. Shelly, the hostel owner, suggested I take a couple days to recover, and she'll put me on another job. After a four days I still wasn't able to walk too well, but I was working again. My body slowly adapted to the strenuous working conditions, and I stuck with it. I reminded myself every second of the day that I needed the money to continue my travels. After getting into the groove of things I picked up a second job. I was now working a guaranteed seven days a week.

With the four days off between jobs, and nothing to do in such a small town meant thinking outside of the box. I don't really what box I'm referring to when I use that expression, but whatever. With the closest beach a good 30 kms away and no car, public transport, or money to get there, most would find them self in quite a predicament. Fortunately, in Australia another way to get from point A to B is to stick out your thumb and hope for the best. It works even better when you have a young tall blond girl to do it with you. So, that's what I did. Me and Sarah from northern England hitched to the beach and back with no trouble at all...well, almost no trouble. The first guy that picked us up was a replica from that scary dude from the movie Wolf Creek. After he picked us up he took us on a full detour of his town and other towns in which he had some association with. After taking us on a full hour detour to places I couldn't care less about, he eventually took us to the beach. With Sarah in the front seat and me in the back, my mind started to run wild with ideas. I began to visualize myself having to pull this guy off of Sarah by any means necessary. I searched around the back seat for something I could use as a weapon. The only thing that came to mind was to use his own seatbelt to maybe strangle him, or the VHS case beside me to hold at his throat. If he tried anything I was ready! After dropping us off at the secluded beach the toothless, middle aged man got of of the car and followed us on to the beach. He wanted to make a day of this whole picking up hitch hikers experience. I however had enough. I turned around with a great big smile on my face and aggressively grabbed his hand, shook it hard, and said goodbye. He stood there not knowing what to say or do next. He walked straight up to Sarah and gave her his mobile number, and house number. He assured her that if she EVER needed anything, anything at all to give him a call. The rest of the day was pretty good. We were picked up only by non-weirdos. Strange though, it was only older guys that were interested in giving us a ride.

Even after working 10 hours a day, seven days a week, most backpackers still find the time and energy to make it to the local pub every Friday and Saturday night. Its a typical local hangout for all the farmers and Aboriginals. One thing we didnt count on is being hated by the Aboriginals just for being a backpackers. My second weekend there the Aboriginals were starting to give us a hard time. They swore and called us all on from a distance while we in the pub. Little did we know, these bastards are freakin crazy! After the pub closed we all walked back to the hostel. When we got there they were waiting for us. Out of nowhere, they attacked! It was a massive brawl on the street, and the backpackers were totally unprepared. The brawl went on for 25 minutes before the police finally showed up. In the end a number of backpackers were severely injured. Many were hit over the head with beer bottles, and large pieces of wood. One young Scottish backpacker named Phillip had his skull bashed in to such an extent that he nearly died. Thankfully he awoke from his comma, and is slowly on his way to recovery.

I stayed in Home Hill working on various farms for five weeks. I can now safely say that fruit picking is a great experience, but the worst job on earth! I now leave for Townsville, which is a couple hours north of Home Hill. after spending two days in Towsville I will go to Magnetic Island, Mission Beach, Cairns, Cape Tribulation, Daintree, and around to Darwin. I'll reach Darwin by August 16.
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Comments

Madeline on

Hello there (:
I'm currently staying in Home Hill. Reading your blog made me scared to venture out into the night. My friend and I have been to the pubs and know exactly what you are talking about. We just decided to google Home Hill, because we wanted to see if we could find any reviews on it, or just on Shelly. You see, at the moment it all seems really dodgey. No one has really had work at all. We've worked 7 days in the 4 weeks we've been here. Oh my. And! The old men here are truly creepy. You'd think they had never seen females before. I guess it might come in handy if I ever need a lift somewhere.
I hope your travels are going well (: If your still travelling that is.
Adieu.

kim on

i find ou the same thing ever since i have ever lived here it so funny casue at night i run into the same thing as you guys did

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