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  • Writer's pictureJenny Anderson

Life & Travel Update: Living in the Outback

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Greetings from South Australia's wonderful outback and welcome back to my wee blog! I feel like it is time for me to give you all an update and some insight into my life currently. My last few posts have been less on the personal side and a little more general, so I want to mix things up and make this blog post all about ME (sorry not sorry)!

Cute rescued baby roo visiting the pub

While travelling your plans and location change on a very regular basis meaning it is super hard for me to keep all of my friends and family up to date with my whereabouts, especially with the oh so common shitey free wifi. I suppose writing a blog post is an easier method of keeping everyone informed without having to send lots of separate messages and accidentally leaving anyone out. So here goes, a little freshen up on my current living situation, enjoy folks.

Come January, James and I were…let's just say a little short on the money front. Two months of activities, partying and expensive city living had left us feeling a little lost - it was time to get back to work! In Australia (on a 417 working visa) if you do 88 days of regional work you can get yourself a nice little second year working visa. The regional work is normally labour or farm work, such as fruit picking or packing. Since we arrived in Oz we knew we wanted to work for our second visa in this awesome country. It is simply waaaay too big to travel in such a short space of time.

We set up camp in a cheap apartment in Newcastle, NSW and started job hunting. It was a mission. We tried finding jobs suited to couples, but soon were willing to settle for almost anything. After countless applications with no success, we decided to bite the bullet and book ourselves into a backpacker resort and search for work there. Backpacker resorts/hostels are just like your standard hostel, however they provide you with work (or help you find work in the area), some even provide you with transport to and from your workplace. A lot of these hostels are a little crap quality for the same weekly price as a plush apartment so we really did our research on where we were staying. After a few phone calls and back and forth emailing, we booked ourselves into the lovely little Paringa Backpacker Resort, situated in the Riverlands of South Australia. Paringa itself is a very small place, infact, you pretty much drive straight through it without even noticing you arrived in the first place. Saying this, it has everything you need for such a little place. A small supermarket, hairdresser, baker, pub, post office and even a brewery about 15 minutes away. There is also a larger selection of shops in the nearest town, Renmark including a Woolworths and Subway.

Our accommodation was awesome, and at only $130 a week for an verging on luxury modern cabin (shared with only 4 other people) it was a total steal. It was really just like a mini houseshare, and meant you didn't need to fight to use the kitchen, bathroom and shower with the whole hostel. We were lucky enough to have really nice roommates, who shared our love for Harry Potter (we may or may not have had a HP marathon..). Unfortunately, we arrived right in between seasons. The grape season had just ended, and we would have to wait until April until the next picking season began. That's when things got a little depressing. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no car, little money and no job…and apparently no hope of getting one. Thankfully we must have been due some good karma as a week after checking in, one of our roommates gave us a local farmers number. With one quick call, we were employed and asked to begin work the following day. At this point the nerves kicked in a little. I had heard nothing but horror stories about regional work and how a lot of the farmers were notoriously racists, sexist and just plain nasty. On top of that was the wage. Due to such high demand for work among us backpackers, getting a decent wage is extremely hard to come by.

Thinning Oranges during our time in Paringa

As a working backpacker, you are probably the most disposable thing on the farm to your employer. They know that if you aren't working hard enough, they won't have to look too far to find another eager traveller. At this point we had no idea what our wage was going to be, and more importantly who our new employer was. However, finding the job wasn’t the end of our luck. Our new employer was probably the nicest and most relaxed aussie you will meet. He taught us everything we needed to know and gave us huge amounts of freedom with our hours and days of work. Plus, the wage was dayuuuum good.

For a fortnight we worked almost every day of the week for variable hours. The work was hard, mostly due to the intense sun and heat (normally over 38 degrees everyday) but we enjoyed the new field of work and experience. Sadly, it all came to an end rather quickly. The picking season didn't officially start until April, so we were only really helping our farmer prepare for then. After three weeks we were forced to find more work, and again we struck lucky. I should add here, that if you are looking for work in Aus, Gumtree was our go to platform. Provided you're careful and check it daily (sometimes a couple of times a day) for new adverts, you should find there is a lot to offer.

From the start of our working time here, I always loved the idea of working in a remote hotel or shop. When I saw the ad for a kitchenhand and housekeeper in the SA outback, I jumped at the chance. I was 100% positive that I wouldn't receive a response (James and I probably applied for over 50 jobs and got maybe, 5 responses!) but the next day I got the phone call I had been waiting for. Before we knew it we were booked on a bus to Adelaide, where we would then catch a tiny wee bus to Marree. Again, the nerves were almost uncontrollable. This time, if we hated the job, we really were stuck in the middle of absolutely NOWHERE!

It is almost 5 weeks since we arrived in Marree, and I am over the moon. I really do not think we could have grabbed a better job if we tried. Not only is the job itself awesome, but it feels like a home away from home. The lifestyle out here is crazy different from being in the big city, but we both love it. There is something strangely magical about having no mobile reception, no supermarkets, no main road, no light pollution and more importantly a tiny but crazy tight knit community. The locals have welcomed us with open arms and I have never met such a friendly group of people. Plus the photo opportunities are immense!

Visiting the amazing Lake Eyre on our day off

So, James and I are pretty much living the life at the moment - new experience level 100! And there is only more excitement to come. In June we are super excited to be travelling up to Cairns to meet James' family where we will have some chill time before (drum roll please) we commence with our very own road trip!! The plans at the moment are vague, but we are stoked to be planning the purchase of our very own little campervan which will carry us down the beautiful Aussie East Coast. How frickin' exciting!

WELL, that is pretty much it. There has been a lot happening in between on a day to day basis so for more regular updates have a wee look on my insta (linked below). For now, over and out! Keep your eyes peeled for some new posts and check out my Australia photography gallery for some new snaps.

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