4 June 2012

Tomatoes and Meanies in Bowen

I thought I would never want to see a tomato again after working on "Eatough" tomato farm in Bowen, in the middle of nowhere. The supervisors treated us like worthless slaves and had us working thirteen hours a day for not much pay. The working hostel "Barnacles Backpackers" was absolutely dreadful. I shared a tiny room with thirteen others. The hostel managers treated us like scum of the earth. And the atmosphere felt more like imprisonment rather than a home.

I arrived from Cairns at night, and started work the next day. We started grading tomatoes into boxes at 8am and weren't finished until 9pm. I had to go pay the rent when we came back. "Barnacles" had the same system as "Atherton Travellers Lodge", demanding a $200 deposit you get back if you stay at least two months, except it was three months at "Barnacles". Because I was not sure how long I would be staying there(I wanted to leave the first day), I said I could sign to stay for two weeks. The manager completely exploded and yelled that I had to stay at least three months. After he had calmed down I said I didn't like the work and wanted to get another job. He said it would be impossible to get another farming job anywhere else in Australia because there were so many other people wanting the same jobs. I wanted to tell him to go f*** himself, but convinced myself to give the job another try. After all, I wasn't quite sure what my instincts were trying to tell me.

One of my thirteen roommates was a Dutch girl, Ra'Ka, who arrived the same day I did. She tried to convince me to hitchhike with her to the Sunshine Coast(it took her three days) and stop by a strawberry farm she had called the day before. While she confronted the hostel managers from hell the next morning, I went to work. We only worked eight hours that same day, but knowing that we would soon be two groups working twelve-hour shifts, day and night, I decided to get out before I was knee-deep. I could also still get away without having to pay the $200 deposit(They would take it out of my first pay-check). 

When I told the hostel owners that I wanted to leave the next day, they called me a selfish bitch, as they had Ra'Ka earlier that day. After all the abuse, I was incredibly relieved when I was on the bus back to Brisbane, where I still had a home. At the same time I couldn't help myself thinking: Was the creepy, alcoholic "Barnacles" manager right? Would I not find another farm job?

Luckily, Ra'Ka called me with good news three days later. Eumundi Strawberry Farm needed pickers, and the farmer had a son with a big house we could live in. For the first time in what seemed like months(it had only been a week), I had a room all to myself in Eumundi, the cutest little town, a 20 minute drive from Noosa and Sunshine Beach. 

4 comments:

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