The Town of 1770 and Agnes Water

I’d never even heard of the Town of 1770 until getting to Bundaberg. But once there it seemed to be mentioned all the time. A beautiful holiday spot with nice beaches and not much else to do but relax. So when I found out I had 4 days off for Christmas (yes I’m a bit behind on my blog), Chris and I decided to get out of Bundaberg and find some relaxation.

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On Christmas Eve we left Bundy and drove 129km north with our esky full of food and beers for the next day. When we arrived it was dark, but even still, I could see that this was a nice place. The tiny town is made up of only a couple of restaurants and a lot of holiday homes. Alongside the road is a wooden boardwalk that overlooks a beautiful inlet of water where people have their boats moored.

Not knowing where to go we followed the road to the end and entered the Joseph Banks Conservational Park. It was quiet and empty so we decided to sleep there. I doubted rangers would be out on Christmas morning.

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The next day the car park was full of guys with their fishing rods, maybe a Christmas tradition for them! Chris and I walked around the park, following trails to different lookouts and points, clambering over and around rocks. Walking along the tracks I could see groups of people far below me fishing off the rocks.

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We then drove back to the main part of 1770 and went to one of the beach side parks where we spent the day on our picnic blanket, under the shade of the trees, drinking beers and playing music. I cooked sausages and rissoles to eat with bread and salad (not very Christmassy), and then we devoured half a pavlova, which had been on offer in Coles.

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The thing was huge, meant for 12 people, but it went down so easily!

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I thought it was going to be busy but surprisingly it was very quiet. Most people must have opted for Christmas dinner in their homes. We finished off our day with a swim at sunset. Which was a brilliant idea until we had to get out in the dark and were attacked by mozzies!

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The next day things picked up a bit. Everyone was at the beach, sunbathing, swimming, renting out paddleboards. We went for a swim before leaving and driving 5 kms south to Agnes Water.

Like 1770 this is also a popular holiday area, however, it’s a bit more built up with apartment blocks, supermarkets, and shops etc. We went there for the beach to do some surfing but it was very busy and the waves were small so we just went for a walk instead.

That evening we munched down the rest of our pavlova. I have to admit I felt a bit sick after, but then it wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t overindulge!

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4 Reasons I Wouldn’t Work in Bundaberg Again

With fruit picking jobs all year round, Bundaberg entices Backpackers from all over Australia. Sweet potatoes, sugar cane, tomatoes, pumpkins, you name it and it’s probably grown in Bundaberg! So the perfect place to come to get your 2nd Year Visa? Maybe don’t book your plane ticket just yet…

I’ve spent the past 2 months working in Bundaberg and staying at the Workers & Divers Hostel. It wasn’t the worst 2 months of my life but it was far from the best. But here’s a few reasons why I think I’d reconsider going to Bundy, were I to do it again.

1) You’ll most likely get taken advantage of

It’s hard to get rich in Bundy. Whether it’s the farmers taking the piss paying you crap contract rates, the hostels charging outrageous rent, or bad weather giving you unexpected days off, you may find you’re not earning quite as much money as you’d hoped.

In my case I landed on my feet with a good job. I worked on a sweet potato farm earning $21/hr and was part of a great team. The downside? My rent at the hostel was $200/week. It was actually meant to be $235, however, I stayed in my campervan and was given a $35 discount. A lot of people thought I was crazy! But the way I saw it was I got cheaper rent, plus a clean, comfy, bed bug free bed to share with Chris.

The hostel owner turned out to be nothing but a greedy contractor with a never ending list of rules stating all the things you can’t do in the hostel, along with threats of kicking you out with no refund. He didn’t care about the backpackers, he just cared about how many beds were filled and how much money he was making.

Obviously not all hostels are the same and some are better than others. But often the cheaper ones get you contract rate jobs where you might work your ass off for 10 hours and not earn much.

2) Bundaberg farms aren’t always the nicest places to work

As I said above I got very lucky with the farm I worked on and was part of a fun team full of both local Aussies and international backpackers. It was that team that made the mundane and repetitive work bearable. But this isn’t the case on some farms.

Before working on the potato farm I worked in a packing shed where things weren’t so great. The supervisor never smiled and didn’t know how to talk, just shout. She would walk around the pack house shouting and swearing at people while smoking a cigarette. And if you did something wrong, even on your first day, she would scream at you for it. The rest of the local staff were always stressed and it was a horrible atmosphere to work in.

Back at the hostel I would talk to people about their farms and often I would hear similar stories. One farm had a dog that would bite the backpackers and the farmer would do nothing about it. On other farms people would be shouted at, sworn at, nothing was ever good enough or fast enough. I think a lot of the farmers lacked respect for backpackers, especially if they’re from non-English speaking countries.

3) There are thieves lurking in Bundaberg

During my first 3 weeks in Bundy 3 people got their i phones stolen. Many of the hostels offer very little security. Doors are often left open and old locks are easily picked. It’s not hard at all for people to walk in casually off the street and take their pick of mobiles, laptops etc. After one of the phone’s was stolen our hostel checked back the CCTV footage. They saw a man wearing a mask with his hood up walking around the hostel. But nothing more was done about it.

It was shortly after one of these phones was stolen that someone tried to open the door to my van. I was sitting in the front one night chatting with Chris when a young guy tried the handle. He didn’t see me through the tinted side window but I saw him, and watched him as he went up the street, trying each vehicle he came to. For the whole of my stay in Bundaberg I could never fully relax with my stuff. I made sure everything was always hidden and out of sight.

4) Bundy is rough as

There’s no doubt about it that Bundy is a rough town, one of the roughest I’ve been to in Australia. I definitely didn’t feel safe walking about the streets at night by myself. Often on the way into town I’d pass homes and hear domestics going on from within. On New Years Eve a group of us were walking past a house when my friend said Happy New Year to a woman, touching her lightly on the shoulder. She flipped out and had to be held back by 2 kids who just kept saying, “They’re just tourists, they don’t know!”

Most weekends I’d go to a club called Central with people from the hostel for a few drinks, and there’d always be a few shady characters about. One night we were sitting at a table when a couple of locals came over and sat across from us. They started banging and shaking the table, trying to knock over our drinks and staring at us as they did it. They came across as so pumped up and aggressive, just looking for a fight.

Another night a huge and extremely pissed Aboriginal woman started slurring incoherently at me in the toilets. I had no idea what she was saying, but I ended up running into one of the cubicles with a friend to escape her. She banged on the door and shouted at us before leaving.

But at least the police seem to have it under control. After dark they are everywhere! I’ve never seen so many police cars for a place of this size. At the weekends especially, they will be driving the roads, walking the streets, keeping an eye on everything. At least their job never gets boring.

“I can’t stand being in a place where Backpackers are taken advantage of!”

Since leaving Bundaberg it’s amazing how many backpackers I’ve met who have recently spent time there doing farm work. It’s almost like a right of passage in the backpacking world. And they all say the same thing. It was a shit place but I met some amazing people.

And this is totally true. I had hilarious nights out, met friends I know I’ll see again, gained experiences I’ll keep with me forever, and I actually had some fun! But would I go there again? No way. I can deal with the rough locals. I got used to the dirty hostel. But I can’t stand being in a place where Backpackers are taken advantage of!

I hated how my friends would get home from picking lemons all day with looks of despair on their faces as they’d barely earned enough money to pay their rent. They wanted to leave and look for work elsewhere but couldn’t afford to and didn’t know where to go. Backpackers come here because they’re desperate and then stay because they’re desperate. They know the rent’s not fair or the pay is a joke, but still they keep coming. It’s just all one big vicious circle that will never stop.

A Job in Bundaberg

Since leaving the dairy in August I’d been having fun and not thinking ahead too much. But all of a sudden I realised time was running out, and if I wanted to earn some more money before leaving Australia in March, I’d better get a job.

So while I was in Tamborine Mountain I went to the library one day and half-heartedly looked for work. There wasn’t much about in the area I wanted work in, except for one job in Bundaberg, posted a good few days before.

I tried ringing anyway and a guy called Ian answered the phone. I could barely understand a word he was saying in his thick Queensland accent, and getting information out of him about the work was hard, but he promised a job each for Chris and me at $21/hour.

Chris would be working on a sweet potato farm, and me, in a tomato packing shed. The snag? Accommodation was at the Workers and Divers Hostel and cost $235 a week, each. I really didn’t fancy sleeping in a shared dorm room so asked Ian if we could sleep in our van. He was kind enough to say yes and even gave a discount… the rent would now be $200 per week, each.

As we were pretty desperate to get a job quick I agreed and told Ian we had plans in Brisbane that weekend but could come on the Sunday night. He sounded unsure and said to call Sunday morning to confirm there were still jobs.

Hung over but enjoying our Sunday morning in the hotel, I called Ian, expecting all the jobs to be gone. “What are you doing, aren’t you on your way to Bundaberg yet?” he said. He’d clearly forgotten I’d say I’d call first! I explained we’d be there later that night, no way was I rushing out of the hotel! Part of me had wished the jobs would be taken, but maybe it was just meant to be. Continue reading

Road Trip: Wet ‘n’ Wild, Wakeboarding, and Brisbane

We left Brisbane and went back to the Gold Coast once again, but this time, to go to Wet ‘n’ Wild.

Wet ‘n’ Wild

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Part of me didn’t want to spent $64 on a ticket for a water park, but we’d been doing so well living on a budget I suppose you have to let loose sometimes. We arrived at opening time and already the car park was packed and there was a crazy queue. So first bit of advice for anyone going to Wet ‘n’ Wild is to arrive early (although this is kind of obvious…)

After what felt like a lifetime we got in and stuck our stuff in a locker. Second bit of advice for Wet ‘n’ Wild… wear your flip flops. Again, this is kind of obvious, but Chris and I decided to go bare foot not realising how hot the ground would get. We spent the day running from shade to shade prancing around like idiots. After a couple of hours I had blisters starting on my feet from the friction.

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The water park itself was good but the queues were pretty bad, I’d hate to see it on the weekend! You spend all that time queuing for a slide only for it all to be over in a matter of seconds. In the 5 hours we spent there we just about managed to try every slide. Which is a bit ridiculous.

Tamborine Mountain

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After Wet ‘n’ Wild we headed to Tamborine Mountain, a small 525 metre plateau about 1 hour away from the Gold Coast. There was a nice small town here and the whole area was very peaceful and pretty.

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We spent a couple of days driving around the plateau and doing different rainforest walks.

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After all the peace and quiet it was time to do something a bit more exciting again, and spend more money. So we drove back towards Brisbane to Cable Ski Logan. I love snowboarding and have always wondered what wakeboarding is like. So when I read up about this place and saw you could just turn up and give it a go I really wanted to work it into our trip! Continue reading

Sunday Session with Seth Troxler… or so I’d Hoped

Chris and I arrived in Brisbane and drove through the city to Fortitude Valley. This is where a lot of the bars and clubs are in Brisbane. We were heading for a Sunday session at the bar, Alfred & Constance, where Seth Troxler would be playing.

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Seth Troxler is a big House DJ who was doing his Australian tour at the time. I’d seen him once before a few years ago at a festival back home, but seeing a DJ like this in an intimate bar setting would be a completely different experience. And even better, it was free entry. It all felt too good to be true!

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We went to the bar late afternoon and it was a pretty cool place. An outdoor terrace with a DJ booth set up, retro decoration, fairy lights, comfy leather couches you sunk right into. The only downside was the food and drink prices, maybe not too backpacker friendly.

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Road Trip: The Gold Coast

Our flight got into Brisbane pretty late so we spent the night freedom camping on a residential street near the airport and then got up early the next day and drove straight to Tweed Heads, which is more or less the start of the Gold Coast. This is where the first lifeguard hut is (I think there’s 39 up the coast)!

Tweed Heads

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My first impressions of Tweed were good. The high rises hadn’t quite started yet, it wasn’t busy at all, and there were great views of the Gold Coast skyline across the water. It was also pretty random how the boarder between NSW and Queensland runs straight through Tweed. I didn’t know which time to go by!

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Once there, Chris and I went straight to Snapper Rocks, which is apparently an epic point break for surfing. Although not on this day it wasn’t…. With the waves looking tiny and mushy we gave surfing a pass and instead, went for nice walk around the point, taking in the views.

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Flying to Adelaide for a 30th Birthday

We said goodbye to our HelpX family and drove to Brisbane airport to catch a flight to Adelaide. We were going to see Nick, our Aussie friend, to celebrate his 30th birthday with him.

Car Trouble

We’d just left Little Pocket and got on the motorway when we felt a bump every second or so on the right side of our van. ‘Is that the road?’ Chris asked. No, the road was pretty new and smooth looking. We pulled over on the busy motorway to see a massive bulge on the side of our right rear tyre.

I felt pretty confident though! Thankfully the guy who sold our van included all the tools needed to change a tyre. Plus our spare tyre was a full sized one. So we got to work, putting the wrench under the van and hoisting it up (even though you’re meant to loosen the tyre nuts first) and then tried to get the nuts off.

But they wouldn’t budge… I started googling tips and realised the van shouldn’t be lifted up at this stage, so we tried to get it lowered again, even that took a while to work out. Finally we got it lowered and tried again to turn the nuts with the cross bar spanner we had. We tried everything! Chris was putting all his body weight into turning the spanner until he was red in the face, when that didn’t work, I jumped up and down on the end of the spanner while Chris held it in place, but the nuts wouldn’t budge. And yes, we were definitely turning them the right way!

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