A big thank you to you and all at Visit Oz for the wonderful experiences I have had working in outback Australia! Unfortunately I am nearing the end of my second working holiday visa and will be leaving the country very soon. (I am probably going to New Zealand next, and just wondered if you are affiliated with or know of any organizations similar to yourselves over in NZ?
I want to thank VisitOz for their contribute to make my stay in Australia an amazing experience! It was very reassuring to know that you were only a phone call away, and always with a lot of job offers to choose from. The whole programme was very professional from start to end, to the pick up from the airport, to my travel from Brisbane to Rainbow Beach, and the warm welcome in Gympie. Had great fun on my training farm, they were fantastic! Wish I could stay longer, and hopefully I will come back to Oz one day in the near future! I will definitely recommend Visit Oz to everyone I meet.
Surely –Cairns–has too much to offer to be able to do the city in a day? Well, you may be right but the package, called -Cairns-in a Day, sets out to allow visitors to experience all that is best in this tropical holiday resort in less than 12 hours! It is an extremely busy 12 hours but for those wanting a slightly slower pace it can be split over 2 days.
Cairns in a Day starts with collection from your accommodation at about 08.00 and a trip to the train station. There you find the Kuranda train waiting for you. The carriages are replicas of the old rolling stock but instead of wooden bench seats there are comfortably padded benches. The train is drawn by diesel electric engines painted with bright Australian designs. After a short journey through the coastal plain the train starts the climb through the spectacular scenery of the Barron Gorge to the Tableland town of Kuranda. There is commentary throughout the journey and the train stops so that the passengers can dismount to view the steepest part of the gorge and take photos of the waterfalls and fantastic views.
In Kuranda a free bus takes visitors from the train station into the town proper with its many tourist attractions. There are markets to explore, theme parks to visit and lots of restaurants offering local specialities and shops catering for every tourist taste from decorated toilet seats to postcards. We also met some didgeridoo players near the station and three young Aboriginal dancers conveying stories to the music one was about a crocodile.
The journey back down from the Tableland is by Skyrail. A series of gondolas carry one over the rainforest with two intermediate stations at which visitors can dismount and view the displays, walk on the specially constructed footways and take photos. Almost in silence you glide over the World Heritage Rainforest high above the lush tropical wonderland there are some huge trees with ferns clinging to them as well as deep gorges and tiny creeks. On our descent it started to rain, heavily, and we watched the clouds moving towards us, but we could always see the canopy below.
At the Skyrail valley station you can buy souvenirs, have meals, coffee, iced drinks and delicious ices. There is also a large gift shop with everything you can think of to give as presents for the following festive season no need to go anywhere else! Visitors are then picked up by limousine or minibus and taken to the Airport for the helicopter journey out to the reef.
The pilot, ours was a flying instructor, gives a full safety briefing including assurance that a helicopter does not drop out of the sky like a stone if the engine stops life jackets are donned and the control tower is consulted for permission to take off. It was interesting to see that we were allowed to fly right across the runway, a few metres above a Qantas flight positioning for take off. On the journey which only lasts 30 minutes visitors are whisked to the outer reef, via excellent views of the Barron River and the coastline and on the way out looking for turtles, dolphins, sharks or whatever else is in the sea. The helicopter lands on a pontoon close to the dive vessel, a fast cat, after a circuit of the area the sea seem to be littered with snorkellers and divers! The fast cat is a fully equipped dive vessel with full scuba gear for the experienced diver, the ability to offer introductory dives for those who want to experience the freedom of life underwater. Snorkels, goggles and fins and even wet suits are available for those who want to marvel at the fish and the coral from the surface. There are other vessels for viewing the coral a glass bottomed boat and another with a submarine compartment.
Fish feeding is part of the fun and visitors are encouraged to hold pieces of bread for a very large fish called Wally to eat. Wally has a battalion of smaller fish around him who collect everything that he drops. When it is time to return a very careful check is made to ensure everyone is aboard and then, the high speed return to Cairns harbour with live entertainment. The fast cat has all the normal facilities such as a bar, and a barbecue lunch is included in the package. There seemed to be friendly rivalry between the boats returning to harbour and remarks like wave to the slow boats as we pass them encouraged visitor participation and lots of fun.
Then, tired but happy and exhilarated by the experiences, transport returns visitors to the accommodation and, if you are young, a night out on the town Our thanks to Robbie for making the arrangements and to the operators for great experience everyone should try this and it is possible in wheelchairs or on crutches! Cairns in a Day: look it up on the web at http://www.downunderdive.com.au
I am back in the States and I have dived right into an incredibly busy schedule. Thank you for running such a great program – it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life!
It was a really good experience for me. I Learned a lot specially with cattle work. I’m more practical now. I met plenty interesting people and the atmosphere was wonderful. Thank you very much for your help, without you I couldn’t find this place. I’ll never forget my time in Australia.
Thank you for your help i had a fantastic time and will definitely be coming back to oz in the near future. Thanks again
Dear Joanna and Dan
I hope you remember George Thomas who was with you in the middle of February. I am sure you do!!!
I am writing to let you know how he has been getting along.
He enjoyed his week with you, and found the training challenging. He found the first few weeks at Tiree very arduous as it was so alien from anything he had encounted before. There was only the station manager and his wife and George. He said it was such hard work and he missed the luxuries of home. He was quite shocked to find that he had to share the shower with frogs.
Having said all of that he quickly settled down and tackled many tasks, one of which was to dozer a 5 mile fence-line so that the government could come along and erect a new one. He was 20 miles from the homestead and he found that quite a strange working environment.
His many experiences have included watching Blue his boss, (called blue because he is a redhead?) real name Bruce, kill a kangaroo for dog meat and also taking three shots at a cow for meat for the table.
After four weeks on his own a young man who was on a government scheme arrived and so George the had some company of his own age. They then also began to muster. This was what George had waited for he was so enthralled by mustering and probably would have stayed longer if time had allowed.
On his last night, they all finished early and had a few beers. George was sad to leave. He said that Blue and Liz were very nice people and that Blue was a very kind boss. George summed up his time at ‘Tiree’ when he said that he had fallen on his feet there and that it would be a place that he would remember all of his life.
He has since travelled to Cairns and done all of the activities there: – sky-diving, white-water rafting and scuba diving. He then flew to Darwin and did Kakadu (on the advice of Blue) from there to Alice Springs and did the ‘tour’ and then took a McCafertys bus to Adelaide (a tad risky I felt, baggage wise – you may remember that they lost and found his bag twice). He is currently is in Melbourne. He has met up with a couple of Swedish lads and they are travelling together as far as Sydney.
George is flying home on 14th June from Brisbane and will have done a complete half circle of Australia by then. He will probably be quite a different person when we meet him at the airport. Not too different we hope just a little more worldly-wise.
When George set out on this adventure, of course Gareth and I were very dubious about the way things would turn out. We were bolstered up by the fact that he had the visitoz scheme at the back of him. We were pleased that you were happy to talk to us about George when we ‘phoned and the help that you gave to him regarding his travel arrangements etc.
We have been approached by some of our friends whose children have heard of what George has done a wish to know more. We have given them all the information which George had and have been very happy to endorse what George has done.
If you ever need a as a recommendation please feel free to give mine. I will be very happy to talk to any parent or young person who is thinking of travelling in this way.
Whilst writing could you possibly throw some light on how George can apply to have a tax refund as he is not sure what rate he should have paid?
Gareth and I wish you continued success with Visitoz.
Very best wishes,
Jackie and Gareth Thomas
The time I have spent at Malboona
Has been quite a fabulous stay
I’ve met lots of wonderful people
And I’ve learned something new everyday
Like how to change tires on a loader
And go fishing without using bait
I’ve learned what a drought really is
And why Queensland’s the Sunshine State
I’ve learned lots of things about sheep
Including the right way to muster ’em
And how to push lambs up the lane
And how to ride bikes and not_buster ’em
There’s lots that I’ve learned about fencing
‘Cause Mick and I fixed quite a few
I learned to make ‘figure of eights’
And patch up some holes made by ‘roos
Once I learned how to load up a road train
With some crazy Brahman steers
And I’ve learned lots of Aussie trivia
By drinking XXXX beer!
I learned that sunscreen won’t work here
And that all things in Queensland are Big
And I saw lots of interesting animals
Like brolgas, wedge-tails and pigs
Yes,I’ve learned so many new things here
That I just can’t list them all
But one thing I can say for certain
Is that I’ve had an absolute ball!
At the top of Policeman’s Hall people of all ages, shapes and sizes had gathered all with one thing in common. Pumpkins. Each person held under their arm a pumpkin that had been selected not on appearance or for potential taste but for its aerodynamics and durability. These pumpkins weren’t heading for the oven; they were heading for the bottom of the hill.
Jenny at Goomeri For the small South Eastern Queensland town of Goomeri the Pumpkin Festival, held on the last Sunday in May, could be described as the highlight of the year and the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll is the highlight of this highlight of the year.
The stakes are high. For the kids a prize of $50 awaits the winner and for the adult competitors the more mature sum of $200 is awarded to the owner of the pumpkin that comes to a halt closest to the chalk circle at the bottom of the hill.
With well over 50 people competing in the adult competition I didn’t really rate my chances. My pumpkin has not been chosen with a great deal of experience and was knobbly and top heavy. A 2 metre practice roll had already ended in disaster and a “that one doesn’t look too good” comment from a passerby.
Soon the call went up and we were herded into rows of eight. By this time a sizeable crowd had gathered behind the barriers erected at the side of the road to protect spectators from the real threat of being hit by a pumpkin missile. A number of marshalls, who were easily identifiable in their bright orange jumpsuits (even if the colour was a coincidence it was a nice touch), lined the road to add that extra safety to the proceedings.
The kids went first and with a quick reminder of the rules (only underarm throwing and no crossing of the start line) they were under starter’s orders. The blast of the whistle sent eight pumpkins hurtling down the hill accompanied by a commentary that any horse race would have been proud of. Pumpkins were flying, pumpkins were bouncing, pumpkins were shattering, pumpkins were flipping, pumpkins were ricocheting off each other. Then it was my turn. I was focused. In my mind the pumpkin to my left was a worthless ball of mush and its mother had been a common, mouldy potato, while the pumpkin to my right was sweating with fear and its father had been a stale sprout. I was riding high on adrenalin for I was the owner of the PumpKING!
Up I stepped, my pumpkin arm ready and in position. The whistle blasted and then I bowled my pumpkin like I’d never bowled it before. This wasn’t such a good thing. My pumpkin seemed to drop like a dead weight and managed to imbed itself on a stone. This succeeded in removing any potential for speed it may have had. It was only thanks to a butternut pumpkin that I managed to rejoin the race. It clattered sideways into my pumpkin sending it careering down the hill in an uncontrolled, flailing mass. Somehow, and god alone knows how, it reached the bottom of the hill. Unfortunately, so did most of the pumpkins and many were much nearer to the chalk circle than I was.
I walked down the hill cursing my technique while trying to figure out on what grounds I could demand a rematch and wondering how a drugs test could be carried out on a pumpkin.
At the bottom of the hill, amidst a blanket of injured pumpkins, I found my vegetable. It was badly scarred and studded with gravel but, miraculously, still alive. I picked it up, placed it under my arm and walked off dreaming of finally putting my pumpkin where it rightly belonged, into the oven.
$200 cash winner! http://www.thewordaustralia.com.au
Hi everybody, for the past 3 weeks I have been working on a cattle station in Queensland. The second day I arrived there we went bush and killed a beast.
Then we cut it up and we had enough meat for the upcoming days with mustering. Then we started on quads and two wheelers with the aid of an helicopter. We mustered the cattle into the yards, drafted it there and moved it with roadtrains to another property.
We slept in our swags under the stars for a week and I had a great time. After that we saddled the horses and mustert the cattle again, on the new property. Then we divided it up into calfs and weaners and bulls and dry and wet cows, gave them shots agains parasites and earmarked, castrated and branded the calves and weaners. It was good fun, I learned alot and it was exhausting.
I hitchhiked to Magnetic Island and all I did hear so far was lying at the beach and going hiking for a day. In a couple of days I will meet Ben, my friend from England with the Van, and we will go up to Cairns. I really look forward to that.
Well, I didnt write for a long time, but Im back home in Germany. I couldnt go to Bali because my passport wasnt valid, but I made it back safely, without accidents or other kinds of inicidents. We sold the van right before the engine broke down and I took my sufboard back home.
Since I am here, I worked a bit in building stages for music shows, but at the beginning of September I started an apprenticeship in farming. It is the only farm in Germany, were they use horses to move their cattle. They got a bit more than 5000 heads of cattle and a bit more than 30 horses which they breed and use to work the cattle.
Its good fun, I really enjoy my time there, even we sometimes work long hours and school can be a bit boring, but it is really good fun and I dont regret my decision at all. If you want to take a look at the homepage, the address is: http://www.gut-borken.de, I believe it is only in German, but you will find the pictures and they will tell you quite a bit.
Hope you are all well, take care,
My emails to you are few and far between, but as you were such an instrumental start to my year out in Oz – 2000 to 2001 – a year which basically changed my life, I just wanted to let you know that I am now here and married to the Aussie I met in January 2001! I emigrated in November last year and we married in the Whitsundays in June this year. We are currently living in Sydney but liable to be moved at any given moment, due to the ever unpredictable nature of Mark’s flying career! Can’t wait to be out of the city…! Give me a green patch and some wildlife any day!
I hope all is well with you and that you haven’t been suffering too badly from the drought…
I drive nearly 200km every day on a close to 2 million acre cattle station checking turkey nests. There are 25 nests on my run and I’ve split it in half so they’re all checked every other day.
You’d think doing so much driving and spending your days with nobody but yourself with the two-way and radio as your only company would be boring. And yes, it is some days. But others are very special. Like that time when the sun was just about to rise over the horizon, it was so quiet that I could almost touch it and I was standing next to my first bore for the day just looking out on the land trying to take it all in when a lonely dingo started howling. That was magical, and a bit spooky.
Another time after we’d had some rain and the paddocks were truly getting green I would just picture what it must have been like when dinosaurs walked the Earth.
I’ve seen kangaroo’s skipping about with little Joey’s in their pouch and I’ve had a few dingoes close up, with perfect pictures to prove it! I’ve been scared by wild pigs and also tried to sneak up close on the same pigs.
I’ve had to rescue a calf that got stuck in a trough and been swearing for more than half an hour at another trough because the bung wouldn’t seal after I’d cleaned it.
I’ve learned to look after Kubota motors, and I can also replace broken belts and service a Ute, as well as mend flat tyres!
Being a borerunner is not what every female backpacker gets to do because, as my boss said, “you’ve got to know your way around and know your tools”, But very few things are impossible.
And by the way, turkey nests don’t have anything to do with the actual bird the aussies eat for Christmas. It’s something that has got the resemblance of a huge mole hole filled with water. Like a giant swimming pool built of dirt sitting on the ground and its purpose is to supply the troughs with water.
After our holiday I went back to the Barossa valley…. I had the best time working there and met friends for life. I want to thank you again for sorting out my visa and getting me started for oz. Wow I will do this year all over again, it is definitely the best year in my life!
My name is Marie-Elise Samson (french canadian) and I lived the visitoz experience a few months ago. After the course, I worked with Lachie Graham for 3 months. I write back to you just to let you know that he really is a great employer. The job was perfect for me and I had an amazing time there
My friend Alexandrine Lemieux-Rochon was working with Sinclair Bell. Despite the fact that she had to go home earlier, she also really enjoyed the job. I met Sinclair during the Polo tournaments and he really is a lovely man!
Thank you for everything, I had a great time in Australia!
It’s been a long time since I last wrote, in fact it was over 3 months ago when Lee and I first arrived in Oz.
The first 3 weeks were spent in the rain in Sydney before I moved on. It was a thoroughly enjoyable 3 weeks spent seeing a few sights like the opera house and the bridge and the Olympic hockey pitches.
After 3 weeks of socialising and sight seeing it was necessary for me to move on. It was taking its toll. The fact that we were staying in a very social backpackers in Bondi a stone’s throw from the beach wasn’t helping. So I left Lee in Sydney and headed North up the coast to Brisbane. I spent a week in Brisbane, which happens to be a great city, in which time I found a company that would give you a week’s training for a minimal amount of money, after which they would find you a place working on a cattle or sheep property in the bush for which you get paid. The work involved could be anything from mustering sheep to fencing to driving tractors but basically it would mean experiencing real Ozzie bush living rather than following the well trodden backpacker trail up the East coast. I jumped at this opportunity especially having ridden both bikes and horses in the past so I was on the course the next week.
You spend four days on a farm 4 hours north of Brisbane, they cover horse riding, bike riding, chain sawing, fencing and driving tractors and some ideas as to how to handle sheep and cattle. There were 2 Scottish blokes there at the same time as me and they’d never ridden horses or bikes before which meant there was never a dull moment. After you’ve done your week’s basic training you’re given a post-it note with some names and numbers on and you give them a call. A couple of mine were in Western Oz and I had no desire to go trekking all the way across the country so soon so I managed to get a job in Western Queensland. Once again, something that I have a habit of doing, I landed on my feet.
The 2 Scottish guys, Euan and Scot and myself spent Saturday getting back to Brisbane. The property I was aiming for was directly west of Brisbane. Even though I was staying in the same state it was still a bloody long way. It was 11 hours on a bus to a small town called Charleville where I had to spend Sunday night then another 5 hours with the courier (the postman basically) in his ute to an even smaller town called Quilpie where I was dropped off outside the newsagents. It was exactly how you would picture a bush town, one big wide street with no-one around. Five minutes after being dropped off a ute showed up, a lady hopped out and asked if I was Mark. I was relieved seeing as I had just spent a day and a half on the road to get dumped in the middle of nowhere and she seemed very friendly. It was a further 80 kilometres (about another hour) west from Quilpie to the property. It is the outback. There’s a husband and wife who are approximately mid sixties and they live pretty much in the middle of their land. There’s also Steven and his wife Annabel and their 6 month old son who I stayed with and they live on the outskirts of the property. This is a good example of how big this place is, the 2 houses are 26 kilometres apart, it takes about half an hour to get from one to the other! In total between father and son they now own more than 250,000 acres of land. I say this because they’ve just bought more. It is a big place.
I’ve spent the last 9 weeks out there and have only just returned to Brisbane.
We started out doing some fencing in preparation for mustering the sheep for shearing. It was necessary to do the fencing to make a ‘yard’ in the ‘paddock’ to muster the sheep from the paddock into. You’re going to have bare with me and take my word for it here because the figures that I’m about to quote may seem exaggerated, perhaps unrealistic but they’re real. The fence to make the ‘yard’ is 12 km long and is in a corner of the paddock. The ‘paddock’ is 40,000 acres. Yes, the Ozzies call it a paddock, and 40,000 acres is the average size for a paddock out there. Someone was taking the proverbial when they decided to call 40,000 acres a paddock. This particular paddock took 4 of us 7 days to muster. That’s 2 of us on motorbikes, one in an aeroplane (a Cessna) and a dog. We could communicate using 2 way radio. In total after the 7 days the final count after driving the sheep from the holding yard to the shearing shed there were 4,400 sheep. It took 5 shearers 4 days to shear them all. They were actually the son Stephen’s sheep. When the father, John has his shearing, which is earlier in the year, there are 19,000 sheep and it often takes a month or more to shear them all.
Quite simply the reason why they have so much land is because of the poor quality. It rained once when I was out there but not a lot and they rely on it heavily. The paddock we were mustering was particularly bad. It’s fairly hilly and there is a particular type of tree called Mulga that grows almost everywhere apart from some very large flood plains. The trees don’t grow very high but they are dense making it difficult to find the sheep and difficult to drive the sheep through. There’s also a lot of creeks running across the land of varying depth making going hard, all this means that the speeds on the bikes is minimal, it’s more technical, up slopes and down slopes and over dead trees. It was fun to begin with but a day’s mustering means out at first light and back home late and normally a saw bum at the end of the day.
On my first weekend out there the local town (called Quilpie, about 300 inhabitants 80 km away) had it’s annual race day and opal expo (This area is renowned for it’s opal mining). They had Mimi McPherson, Elle’s little sister along as the star guest. How ironic to come out to the middle of nowhere and meet the stars. The festivities went on into the evening and over a few beers me and another son of the family I’m working for had a bet for 5 dollars who would kiss her first. I never did get my 5 bucks. Also just happened to have my camera with me, photo attached.
So that was my first month’s work and my first weekend. There’s usually very little to do at the weekend so I would normally go shooting with one of the sons. In total there are seven sons and 2 daughters and a couple of the younger sons came back from Brisbane for their Winter holidays from college and Uni. Roos are almost at plague proportions out there. They estimate that there are 32 million of them hopping around Queensland alone. How they reach this figure I don’t know. What this means is shooting roos is easy, they are everywhere. Also when you see them they almost always stop, sit up and stare back at you as if waiting to be shot. OK, I know what you roo lovers are thinking but to give you an idea you could not drive at night without bull bars on the front of your car, it would be more surprising not to hit a roo on a usual journey than to hit one. Besides roos there are also emus which are also very stupid and quite common plus wild pigs. It’s the wild pigs that we would go out looking for. These are a pest and a threat to the young lambs. They’re not what you would imagining. They are more like wild boar. They tend to be quite small but they can get up to a reasonable size, they’re black and they have tusks. I managed to get nine in the nine weeks I was there. I’ve never really shot anything before so I surprised myself. In my defence I went out there to experience the lifestyle, shooting anything that breathes that they haven’t introduced is their way of life and there was no way one pom was going to change it. Especially with the way we’ve been doing against the Ozzies in sport over the last 2 months. The Lions – it was close but we lost, the tennis – could have been good if Henman hadn’t been knocked out in the semis, and the cricket – well, the commentator over here announced that we hadn’t even won the toss nine times in a row! I have suffered ridicule thanks to our sportsmen and women. When are we going to pull our fingers out?
My second month was spent doing more mustering to retrieve the rams from other paddocks, fixing up a scraper which is a beast of a machine used for digging new dams and ‘tanks’ (tank being a kind of water catchment hole in the ground) and lots more mundane stuff, like more fencing, shifting dirt, paving and the worst job of all – shovelling sheep shit from under the sheep shed to fertilize the house gardens. Fortunately this is something I only had to do a couple of times. By far the biggest problem when out in the bush was a sense of direction, apart from the sun there’s no distinguishing land marks so I found it fairly easy to get lost. I had to have a map drawn in the dirt for me before we went into a new paddock so as to know where the creeks and roads were in relation to the fences but the paddocks were so big it would be very easy to get lost and drive the sheep round in circles particularly on a cloudy day. It is the middle of winter here so it does get cold at night but the days are warm enough for shorts.
with Mimi McPherson at the Quilpie Races
So, what’s next? Lee’s out doing the same thing on a different property. i should catch up with him in a about a month and then we’ll get a set of wheels and see the sights. the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock etc.
I hope this finds you all well,
PS One more quick example. A week last Tuesday I got a bull dozer stuck in a creek! I was given the task of walking this huge vehicle from one paddock to another where it was to be used to make a road. They say ‘walking’ it because it goes so slowly but you are driving it. I was given a quick run down on how to drive it seeing as it has tracks and warned that when going through creeks I need to be careful because the plough thing on the front, despite being raised, will dig into the bottom of the dry creek bed if the angle of the bank is too steep. That was it, I hopped in and crawled off along the fence line, Stephen headed of in the ute to peg a line out for the new road. I thought I would be taking the road to the next paddock that I actually knew quite well but instead, at the last minute, Stephen told me to take the fence line, a route I didn’t know. 200 metres, 10 minutes later, i’ve got turning the thing sorted so feeling confident I reach the first creek. stop the dozer, hop out, quick recce, yeah it’ll go through there no problem, it’s a 20 tonne bulldozer.
Hop back in, drive up to the creek, nose goes down, in a flash the plough is digging into the dirt. It is too steep. Which lever is the clutch? Engine stalls because the tracks are driving the dozer into solid creek bed. Oh yeah this is the clutch lever – too late. We’d had to jump start the cat from the ute, there was no battery on board, as if i’d be able to restart it anyway. The engine was so big that it had an electric motor that started a petrol motor that would in turn start the diesel engine. I sat there in the middle of nowhere with the dozer in the creek for an hour before Stephen reappeared. After an hour I was able to see the funny side of it, looking back I could still the point I had started from over an hour ago. Fortunately for me after restarting it it came straight out but needless to say that was the last time I drove the dozer!
Dear Joanna, Just a quick note to thank you for my trip with Peter and Anne Coombe whom I stayed with last February. Unfortunately I had to return to Ireland very shortly afterwards due to an unexpected development and so didn’t get to work with anyone, but even the four days that I spent out in Peter’s farm was worth it. Didn’t see any snakes, worst luck, but saw a weird scaly thing climbing a tree, and that was a good enough story to relay to the lads in my local back in Cork. I also got on pretty well with the wily Gus – who apparently is the more disagreeable of the horses. I only used foul language to this creature on a few occasions (out of Peter’s earshot, of course) but Gus seemed to warm to me and we got on very well (except when he started running too fast – then the level of my foul language would increase tenfold…)
One time Peter even told me that I was very good with Gus, but sure, he probably says that to all the wide-eyed city boys that come stumbling into his farm every week! Seriously though, I really enjoyed my stay there and, being a quiet sort of fellow, I probably didn’t express my gratitude enough at the time. Anne was a lovely woman, a gifted cook, and a thoroughly enjoyable person to share a house with. Peter was, first and foremost, a character from a Wilbur Smith novel, which is the ultimate accolade that I can afford a man.
He is obviously a very learned, very informed and knowlegable sort of chap, possessed of that particular English humour which makes one scowl outwardly for fear of showing too much enthusiasm, but fall to pieces in laughter inwardly. Yes, I remember people like him because they are few and far between. And I remember him with much respect and fondness. So pass on my best wishes to Anne and Peter, and tell them that I had a good time. Thanks to them I played pool against a guy called ‘Sticks’, and I know how castration works? More stories for the pub! Slainte! See ya,
I very much doubt that you remember me in view of the hundreds of people that you must have had in Visitoz since I passed through! I was at Springbrook in May of 1997 and then went on to work at Cooper Downs.
I just wanted to drop you an email to thank you so much for the week I spent on your farm and then the three months you arranged for me over in Banana. I guess this is a little out of the blue and about 5 years too late, but I was prompted to write after reading my diaries from the time last night.
I guess looking back on things can often give you a great deal of perspective and I was astounded to see how the Visitoz scheme changed my life at the time and with an impact which lasts even now. The week with you gave me so much confidence, I’d forgotten how petrified I was of Dan and determined to impress him and also how much I learnt in that week. I won’t bore you with all my random memories though I suspect some of them would have you in stitches – they did me!
I very much doubt I could remember how to repair a fence now (not much call for it in London!) but what I can remember is that I am capable of learning almost anything and can adapt myself to and enjoy situations I would never imagine possible.
As for the time I spent on Cooper Downs well that totally changed my life and my personality. I think it gave me a real and lasting insight into myself, others and the world. Reading my diary brought everything back and it became clear that some of the attitudes I have to life now which keep me strong and happy were formed then.
It seems impossible to put into words the effect the experience had on me, everything appears too sentimental. I guess what I really wanted you to know is that what you do changes people’s lives for the better on a really fundamental level. Thank you so much! If there is anything I can ever do to help you both out (though I can’t imagine what!) then please don’t hesitate to ask.
Just a note to thank you for introducing my daughter to some wonderful work experience whilst working in Australia for the past 7 months. She thoroughly enjoyed her time in Australia from the 10 days she spent at Springbrook right through to the work on the outback ranch. It was comforting to know she had some point of contact, should she have needed it. Once again, thank you to you and your team. She intends to return to Australia in the future so the hard work didn’t put her off!
During my time working and backpacking around Australia with VisitOz, I’ve discovered that the best experiences usually happen when you least expect. I was lucky enough to get a job as a station-hand on a station in the ‘accessible outback’ of NSW – a great opportunity to meet and work with locals.
One day I was invited to go pig hunting with some guys from the nearby town (the town was a pub and a general store). I jumped at the the chance to go. I had heard so much about it whilst I had been working, and now I was getting the chance to actually experience it – and experience it I did!
Picture the scene – a pleasant sunny afternoon as you meander through the Outback. You are standing on the back of a ute taking in the view when you spot a group of pigs ambling along in the distance. Before you have a chance to grasp a firm grip on anything, the driver puts their foot to the floor. The chase is on! You’re hanging on for dear life, racing over bumpy ground, playing dodgems with the trees, flattening any bush that dare get in your way, and flying over creeks. The dogs are excited and barking in anticipation of a chase of their own. As you close in on the pigs the dogs are released – and they’re off! They don’t stop until their prey is pinned to the ground, and even then it takes some persuasion to encourage them to hand over their catch.
We caught five pigs from one chase. They were gutted in the paddock and then sold for meat. The money from the sale bought the beer from the next pig hunting trip. The only problem after all that chasing – we were and had to use a GP to find our way out of the massive paddock.
It was hard to take in everything that had happened in such a small space of time. The electrifying atmosphere, the rush of adrenalin, and the magnificent taste of a cold beer at the end of it all. Definitely an experience like no other. In fact I think experience isn’t strong enough a word. More ‘one-hell-of-an-experience’! (NB I wouldn’t generally encourage the killing of animals this way, but I think it is important to keep an open mind when traveling in different cultures – traveling would be pointless if not).
Can I visit Australia by the same 416 Special Program Visa one more time please?