I remember sitting on a secluded beach in a Brisbane suburb. We’d just received a phone call from a farm located in a rural town in Queensland. By this point we’d been looking for all types of work for over two months in all kinds of fields and received no luck. Restaurants and shops regularly refused to acknowledge us due to our visa only allowing us to work for six months in one company at a time, and the thought of fruit picking was too much to bare (for me). So I guess this left us with no choice but to look for other types of farm work instead.
A couple eventually found out ad on Gumtree and asked if we’d be interested in working on their cattle and goat farm in Roma, Queensland. The deal was $400 each a week, with food and accommodation both provided; to us, it seemed ideal.
On the day of our arrival it turned out this 30,000 acre farm was located two hours away from Roma, and 50 minutes from the other town they claimed to live in. To put the size of the property into perspective, it took almost half an hour to even get to the house from the start of the property. Within that journey we had to dodge uneven surfaces and hundreds of kangaroos jumping out of the trees beside us – both of which would cause great damage to our Mitsubishi Lancer. We had very little WiFi, no phone signal and the nearest town was two hours away – we were well and truly living in the middle of nowhere.
The work offered included working with goats and the odd bit of fencing, which of course never really happened. Jack was out most days putting up exclusion fencing whilst I was required to do the house chores for the farmers wife. We also had to live with the family in their home, which was all well and good until we discovered their love for lamb chops and steak for breakfast every.single.morning and their obsession drinking a bottle of rum every.single.night. Their lifestyle was something I could’ve never kept up with.
In the shed, they had a full size fridge full of bullets, guns in their living room, a newly fresh sheep hung up in their outdoor freezer they killed the day before our arrival, they had an obsession with drink driving everywhere, their main hobby was hunting pigs, the farm owner was incredibly sexist; safe to say, it was something completely out of the ordinary.
After two weeks of settling in, we then travelled to another farm even further away to put up 40 kilometres worth of exclusion fencing. For two weeks straight I sat on my hands and knees while twisting hard wire through metal fence posts in 30 degree weather. It was torture and probably the closest I’ve ever felt to slavery; sorry for being so dramatic but it’s the only way I could possibly describe it.
The highlight of this work was the farm manager, Dick, or Big Dick as everyone liked to call him.
Dick is an Aboriginal man living on the farm with his wife, son and Grandson. Their home was that secluded it took three hours to get to the nearest town with a supermarket, resulting in Dick shooting kangaroos for his dinner every night. Things got a little weirder throughout the course of our stay here. On a Friday night as a ‘treat’, our boss organised a ‘popular’ country singer to come to our accommodation for a performance and a barbecue; obviously, to our surprise, the country singer was actually the farm manager, big Dick. Catching Yellow Belly and a song about a woman he’d met at an ICT course were the only things I actually have a slight memory of.
We didn’t last long. After we had finished the 40 k fence, we were given a two week break to do whatever we wanted; we left and never went back. It was hard and although it was an experience I’ll never forget, I wouldn’t wish this work on anybody.