If you’re looking for a piss up then you’re in the right place! If you’re looking for a guided tour for an obscene amount of money, then you’re in the right place. Other than that there isn’t a great deal of things to do. Given that our financial situation has taken a plummet for the worse, we weren’t able to do any of the tours. The two main nights out are Woolshed and Gilligans. However if you’re looking for a few beers, maybe some food and an outdoor seating area, PJ O’Briens is where you want to head. Reef have discount cards to offer as well for a $10 meal and pint or wine.
Another misconception we figured out a little too late is that there actually isn’t farm work all year round up here and it’s not so easy to walk straight onto a farm. So here’s the deal.
After a day or so we decided to start putting the feelers out for the farm jobs, anticipating it might take a week or so to get anything. Unfortunately everyone we met looking for farm work too told us they were going back down the coast as there isn’t anything around Cairns at the moment. I felt slightly like Sid the Sloth in Ice Age when all the animals start running away from the big freeze and he doesn’t know what’s happening. What a surprise, once again things haven’t worked out! By our last day booked in at the Reef we had our heads in our hands in despair. We had no plan, had exhausted every option and with no money to pay for flights AND bonds for a working hostel farm to get back to Brisbane we reached our rock bottom. Baring in mind it rained the whole time we were in Cairns didn’t really help with us warming to the place. A touch of prophetic fallacy one might say… There is no way I would ever accept that I had to go home so we pressed on to find a way… and yes becoming a drug dealer might have passed through my mind 😉
We stayed one more night in the Reef and eventually had a few options: we work on a resort in Cape Tribulation but we’re stuck there three months and don’t get much pay but we do get second year visa days signed off. We go to a working hostel in Innisfail and hope for the best (cheap to get there, cheap hostel), or we fly to Adelaide to go work on a farm where money is guaranteed but the hostel is an expense on top of the flight to get there. Or we just stay in Cairns for two weeks and wait for the season to pick up again. Not one of these options seemed like a good idea. Paying for hostels was the biggest money drainer so we started looking for work for accommodation jobs to tide us over until we find farm work. This just goes to show that the reality of this ‘glamourised’ backpacker lifestyle isn’t always plain sailing. We do get ridiculously poor, almost homeless and definitely jobless. To add to that, finding farm work really isn’t as easy as people make out! No matte how many websites your friends tell you to go on, believe me you won’t be getting a job that easily.
We moved to the hostel next door, The Lazy Duck, which at first seemed like the more sociable, cool hostel to be in. However, it had a cold feel to it when we walked in and besides the people in our room, no one really seemed to want to know us. The majority of people there worked in one of the three hostels that we joined to this one; Lazy Duck, Reef and Water Front, and it all seemed rather clicky. I wondered if it was me perhaps, but knowing myself and what other hostels are like, I knew this place was laced with the pretentious Byron ‘I’m a surfer and wear a trilby’ syrup. After another night of not knowing what the hell we were going to do and finding out from reviews that Innisfail (which became our only option) largely had few farm prospects even though it advertises that the hostels get you work quickly, we were saved by the bell in the nick of time. Abbie had seen an ad on Gumtree for a work for accommodation in Cardwell so she called and we were accepted into a new job! At least this gets us further down the coast to look for farm work whilst we are there!
So we booked a Greyhound to take us there and trudged through town with our rucksacks. Of course I was also carrying my surf board, which I didn’t leave behind again, looking like an idiot for having a board in Cairns. One guy even stuck his head out of a car window to inform me “ya can’t surf in Cairns lav”. Thanks for that dude… I might be a ridiculously pale English tourist but I am still capably aware that the sea has no waves and is infested with crocs…
Not only did we immediately forget where we were going, as the town is quite unheard of, but we realised we were putting our trust in a complete stranger to come pick us up from the coach and take us to a resort that didn’t even have a name. Mystery doesn’t phase us though so after a few hours of reading on the coach we arrived at Cardwell. We got off the bus and had a little sit down wondering if this guy would actually turn up. Amongst many cars we noticed one with a guy sat in it staring at us. Of course we didn’t know what he looked like so we figured we would sit still until we heard word. A few text conversations with Abbie revealed he was actually the guy sat staring at us so timidly we walked forth to introduce ourselves. Of course my surf board, as bloody massive as it is, hardly fit in the car so we all squished in with the thing over our heads to arrive at the resort.
Our job would be to clean out old cabins to refurbish them so they could be rented out as a caravan park. The area had been ruined by cyclone Yasi four years ago and now the town is in an attempt to get it back up to standard. The estuaries are full of silt, boats are stuck in the port and broken due to it and the interest in the area has largely plummeted because of the effects of the cyclone.
Despite our anticipation, our boss is lovely, we get to live as a three in a cabin by a river which is beautiful and not only do we have a pet cat but also a croc in the river to look at too!
Catch up with our first few days at work, next!