Some Day Soon (Mildura)

Why, hello again! I am now in a town called Mildura, which has a population of about 50,000 people. Before I got here, I got to spend the weekend in Melbourne! On Friday, it was Australia Day so there

St. Kilda Beach

were multiple activities happening in the city. I started at an outdoor festival south of the river and tried to find something to eat. The cheapest thing I could find was a hotdog, which was 6 dollars, but it ended up being hot pink! I had never seen a hot dog that colour in my life. I found it was a lot easier to eat if I didn

t look at it. After that, I walked along the river and met up with Tiffany at McDonalds, where we took advantage of the $1 Coke and Fanta slushies (which I basically did every day that I was in Melbourne). We walked to the harbour, which is where the nighttime festivities and fireworks were supposed to be taking place and as soon as we finally got there, someone got on the stage and started warning everyone that there was a high risk of an electrical storm. The sky had completely clouded over and there were occasional lightning strikes. They warned everyone to leave the area immediately, to get off all metal chairs, and they closed all the food trucks. Since it was supposed to rain all evening, we decided to just go home since we figured they wouldnt end up doing the fireworks anyway. On Saturday, I went back into the city to walk along the river some more, and to check out some of the shops. It was way too hot to do anything else! On Sunday, it was even hotter and it went above 40 degrees! I made the long trip back to St. Kilda so that I could meet up with Tiffany and spend some time on the beach, which was definitely necessary with the hot weather. We stayed there until about 6pm, went out for dinner, and then I went back to my Airbnb to pack all my stuff for the next morning.

On Monday morning, I left my Airbnb at about 8:30 so I could get to the station and get breakfast and

Our bedroom!

lunch before catching my train. My train left at 10:20am and arrived in Bendigo at noon, and then I had to catch a bus at 12:20 and I arrived in Mildura at about 6:15pm. The owner of the hostel came and picked me up from the station, and then I got to see my room. The place that I

m staying at is basically a motel full of about 60 backpackers, and my room is a 2-bedroom apartment. There are four people in each bedroom and then we have a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. In our place, there are three British girls (Terry, Charlotte, and Christine), one Scottish girl (Sophie), one Estonian girl (Marlene), and that day, an Irish girl had also moved in (Kirsty). Everyone was really friendly and welcoming, and people from the other rooms are always walking in and out so its like a little community. On Tuesday morning, Kirsty and I had to walk 40 minutes to go to Madec, which is an organisation to connect people with farms and to train workers. We had to sit through two half-hour inductions, which basically went through safety precautions of working on farms. After that, I walked around town for a

The kitchen

bit to find a high visibility shirt, which is needed for anyone working on a farm. I then walked back towards the hostel and did some shopping for food. That evening, another Canadian girl came (Sonia) from Toronto. It

s nice having two other new people so that we dont have to go through everything alone! Kirsty, Sonia, and I clicked really fast so I think well be a good support system for each other during the next 3-4 months.

On Wednesday, Sonia and I had a meeting with a company who was going to set us up with fig packing. We filled out our paperwork and bank details, and were told that wed hopefully get work within the next few days up to a week. However, we were warned by multiple people at the hostel that this company was a bit sketchy. They seemed to make a good first impression though, and we decided to just go for it. Things were looking up! On Thursday, Sonia and I were told that they were looking for fig pickers the next day. The way that things work here is you either get paid an hourly rate (which is the best scenario), or you get paid

The living room

a piece rate (which is when you get paid a certain amount of money for every box that you pick). The fig picking job that they wanted us to do would be a piece rate position, which wasn

t ideal, but the hostel owner said that it would be a good way to get our foot in the door and then maybe theyd promote us to fig packers at an hourly wage afterwards. Wed have to wake up for 4:45am, leave by 5:20am, and start at 6:00am. Luckily, the hostel has 11 vehicles for people to use, but it charges 10 dollars per person each day. We went to bed before 10 that night and I actually got up fine the next morning! We got there right on time and it was still pitch black when we arrived so we had to wait until the sun rose until we could pick any figs. They provided us with high visibility shirts (even though I already had one) because they wanted us to wear their logos. Not only that, we had to pay 25 dollars for the shirt (which would be taken out of our paycheque). I had never seen a fig in my life, so I had difficulty knowing what was acceptable and what wasnt acceptable to pick. Theyre green when unripe, and then they turn

Picking figs!

yellow when ready to pick (which basically just looks like a light green) so it was hard to tell the difference! We were told that if two or three figs in your box weren

t good, they wouldnt pay you for the box so I was extremely concerned about what I was picking. On top of that, any time you pick a fig off its stem, it emits a milky, acidic liquid which will make you extremely itchy if it comes into contact with your skin. We were shown scars that some of the workers had gotten there. Therefore, we had to be sure we were wearing long-sleeved shirts and latex gloves. Anyway, after about an hour of questioning which figs were the right ones to pick, we were yelled over by our supervisor and told to stop picking. The company hadnt received any orders that day so they had to send all the pickers and packers home! I had picked about 2.5 bins of figs and we get paid $3.10 for every bin. Therefore, I made a whole $7.75 that day (minus tax)! Oh, but wait theres also the $10 for the ride there and the $25 for the shirt so actually, I PAID 27 dollars to pick figs for an hour! Kind of hilarious but also doesnt help my situation very much… We were told that we likely wouldnt get any more work for another week. To make things even worse, that night, I jumped into the shower before bed and when I got out of the shower, I could hear a couple having sex in the living room. I sat there for about 15 minutes contemplating what I should do and came to the conclusion that I couldnt just sit in the bathroom forever because I needed to go to bed, so quickly ran past them to my bedroom. The funny thing is one of the other girls was waiting for the bathroom so she assumed that when I came out, the couple had stopped and it was safe to go into the bathroom. She left her bedroom only to walk into the exact same thing. Im curious what other people would do in that situation cause something tells me it wont be the last time that happens!

On Saturday, we were all just in a bad mood. I think it had hit us that we had been there for almost a

The Murray River

week and we had done minimal work. One of the girls in our room decided to leave because she had been there since October and still had over 30 days to get done. Another person had told us that he has had 11 different jobs since coming here. And it sounded like all the work was casual (meaning you get called in the night before you

re needed) and the chance of finding a permanent position was very rare. We had been told that almond and pistachio season would be starting around mid-February but everyone else told us that they only hire men for those positions. We were all feeling extremely discouraged, and were wondering if we were doing the right thing. Kirsty, Sonia, and I decided to take a bus into town so that we could check out the river. It was absolutely gorgeous, and so relaxing!! However, at about 3pm, we were messaged by the hostel owner that someone from an almond farm would be coming to the hostel sometime before 5 to meet anyone who needed a job. I walked back to the hostel and the man came right at 5. He hired one of the guys right on the spot, and then there were 4 girls and one guy. He said he only had three positions left and explained that it would be 14-hour days for 6 days a week, but I think we were all so desperate, we would take anything. He gave us all some paperwork

Me, Sonia, and Kirsty

to fill out, but none of us have heard anything as of yet. That evening, Sonia and I got a message from the hostel owner telling us that fig picking would be happening again the following day, but both of us wrote back and declined. Since the supervisor had said we wouldn

t get work for another week, I thought that the possibility of us being sent home would be really high, and I really couldnt afford to have to pay to go to work again. Not only that, but we had had a sketchy situation with the supervisor there so didnt feel totally comfortable going back.

On Sunday, we went to do our weeks worth of grocery shopping and then spent the rest of the day sitting by the pool. Two of the girls in our room left and two new girls came so now we have another Brit (Alice) and another Canadian (Asha), but the Canadian might leave again soon. Now, Ive officially been here a week and Im still waiting for work. I know it doesnt seem too bad of a life I dont have to work, its 36 degrees out, we have a pool and tons of shops, but you get completely wrapped up in your thoughts and think of every possible scenario that could happen and just get discouraged. The girls and I have enough money to hopefully last here for three weeks without pay but were really hoping that something will come up before then!!! I spent the past two days searching for work, but I havent heard anything back. I have high hopes that by the time I write my next blog post, Ill have made some money!! Hope everyones doing well. Love always
 
Some Day Soon – Alexi Murdoch
 
PS These pageviews made me extremely happy 🙂 Thanks for keeping up, no matter where you are!
 
 

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