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Friday, October 23, 2009

Starting life at the "Grand"

It's Friday afternoon, it's a warm and it's sunny day. Summer is here in Swan Hill and the people are buzzing. Everybody is excited by it and the temperature is hitting 30 degrees today. It happened so suddenly. Within the space of 2 days, we went from 15degrees to nearly 30.. How drastically it can change..

The past week and half, since arriving in Swan Hill, have flown by. Me and Jason are waiting for the next job to start. It will be on a rose farm near Swan Hill, working with trees again. I'll be doing pretty much the same as I did 3 years ago. We worked there together then too. It will be strange going back there again, but good all the same. The job will last probably 3 weeks and from there, who knows.

When we first got to Swan Hill last week, we had decided that we'd move into the "Grand Hotel" in Nyah West. It's the place I stayed at, 3 years ago and it's also where I met Jason and where we first worked together. It's in the tiniest of towns, and should probably be classed as a proper country pub, with 40 odd rooms above it instead of calling it a hotel. Because this "hotel" doesn't live up to it's name; there's nothing at all "grand" about it.. But comparing it how we've been living over the past 2 months, it's luxury.

Last week we thought it would be a good idea to stay at the pub, while we were working on the rose farm. It would give us some more space for a while, it would break the monotony of living in the van and we'd be meeting lots of other workers and travelers at the same time - because that's the type of place it is: it's a place where people stay only temporarily when the seasonal farming work is available..it's a town people just pass through..(only if you're unlucky enough to find something that will keep you there for any particular length of time..then you're doomed!!)

So I was excited about staying there again. I knew it would bring up so many memories when I was first there, in 2006. And it did.. We stayed there last week for just one night and it didn't feel too great, if I'm totally honest. I didn't know what came over me.. I was just overwhelmed by the fact that I ended up back there again. The times I had there, when I first got to Australia in 2006, were amazing. They were some of my most precious times and the times I'd miss the most, whenever I'd be thinking back to when I traveled Oz for the year. I felt that by being there, I was trying to recreate the past. It was like I was trying to relive the memories that were, and still are, so dear to me. I felt like I was going to make the Grand hotel in Nyah West into something different than it is, in my head and I was also afraid that I'd start to look at it in a different light and not be as fond of it as I am. I was also overwhelmed by how much I've changed. I was walking into the kitchen, I was walking down the corridor, I was having a shower, and constantly seeing me as a young girl, doing all these things, but who had only just started her adventures, who had only arrived in the country, who was new to the traveling lifestyle, who was partying hard, who was so naive and so so young. I saw her constantly, it was me and I was seeing how I used to be. I saw how I looked at the world and at people and at traveling. And I couldn't believe how much 3 years has changed me. Suddenly it was like I was seeing this person who is no longer an innocent and naive traveler, on the go, running through life with an enormous amount of energy. I could see so clearly, what I had "become" since leaving there, in December 2006. I could see what life had thrown at me, and now it was like coming full-circle almost, just so I would be reminded of how much I've changed and how I've come to value such different things in life. It's unreal and was a bit of head-wreck at first. It made me feel isolated, scared and it made me panic.. It wasn't until afterwards I realized why I felt that way. And it's only now that I'm sharing this with you that I can see it even more clearly and it makes all the more sense.

This happened last week. Jason said that if I wasn't comfortable staying there, then we just stay in the van, no worries. But I knew it would be good to stay there again.. So, up until yesterday, we've been camping anywhere and everywhere, just to save some pennies before and last night we moved into the pub. By anywhere and everywhere, I mean camping on the river, in our mates driveway, then in the forest, then on the racetrack grounds.. Filling the time has been too easy, especially with the gorgeous weather. Jason has been doing some fishing and catching up with some mates and stuff. I've become a part of the community, by sitting in the library nearly everyday, working on my laptop, reading heaps and catching up on internet-stuff (except facebook..oops..). Last night we were back at the pub, which is where we'll be staying for the next 3 weeks. I felt so much better, when I got there last night. It was almost a relief to be there. Maybe because, now we'll be a little settled for a few weeks. We don't have to ask ourselves everyday: "where are we camping tonight", we don't have to plan ahead too much, we've a shower at our disposal, we've a lounge, we've a kitchen and an unbelievable amount of space! How nice it will be!!!! O yeah, and a pub downstairs ;)

For now, I don't want this time-off to end..haha. I'm having a ball! Haven't partied in a while and I must admit that I do miss it now and then. But there hasn't been an opportunity and there are so many other things to enjoy in life. So that's fine.
The next 3 weeks are pretty much planned for now, and from there, I'll have to be making some proper decisions..humm.. keep you posted!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goodbye Shepparton

No longer in Shepparton, no longer on the farm. Suddenly there's no more trees and no more work..

Last week, everything came to a sudden stop. The trees were no longer needing our attention and our work was done. Because the weather is slowly starting to warm up, it means the "tree-grafting season" is also ending. I knew it was on the cards at some stage but thought it would be the end of this month. Instead, on Wednesday night we found out that Thursday morning we would be finishing up.. For now anyhow. So that's when the big question popped up.. What to do next?

And that was quite a big question indeed. I hadn't a notion what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. Jason had some other jobs lined-up and wanted me to keep on working for him. He's actually got work for me, tieing trees on different farms around Victoria and Adelaide, from the end of October until March or April, if I want it - But that's a long way off yet, for me to be making any decisions that far down the line.. Until the end of October though, so another 3 weeks, there's no work for either of us. We were at a loose end all of a sudden. But still have the van, still have our "home" so there really isn't a problem.

Since finishing on Thursday morning, we've been camping with the manager of the Shepparton farm and his wife, James and Dell, in the forest on the Murray river for a few nights. We've been fishing, hanging out, having bbq's, paddling around in canoes and just chilling before hitting the road. Because, even though we didn't know what to do with ourselves, we definitely knew that it was time to leave the farm and Shepparton behind. 6 weeks of being there was enough. We said our goodbyes last night, to the farm and to James and Dell, to the trees, to the deer, to our campsite, to our "kitchen", to our bushshower (we managed to get our hands on a portable shower, that's great to use out in the bush..fill a bag with hot water, tie it to a tree, and with the hose you can have the quickest shower in the world..and hope nobody drives past (!!!)). Our time on the farm was an experience, to say the least. I've never lived in such an intense environment before, with regards to space, isolation, work and the general monotony of the whole lifestyle.. But it was one I'm so grateful to have had. So it was a little sad to say goodbye. And James and Dell were so good to us during our stay. They invited us into their home, cooked us a few dinners.. Let us watch some of his telly (!!!) and they were delighted to have us on their farm. What a great bunch of people! So glad to have met them.

However, after 6 weeks we did both need a change of scenery. And we're getting it right now.. I'm sitting in the library in Swan Hill. It's Monday afternoon, and we got here this morning. The reason we've headed up this way is because Jason needs to find out when his next job starts. It also gives us a chance to catch up with some friends, just like the last time. The last time we were here, we stayed with our friend John, but we'll probably be camping in the forest this time. That was nearly 3months ago. It was chilly back then and Jason and I were just finishing our roadtrip. Now, after a month in Cairns, and nearly 7 weeks on the farm, we're back in this so familiar town, with familiar faces, contacts, places to go and with much nicer weather. It's mid-twenties at the moment, coming into Summer -much warmer than Shepparton, which is around 5 degrees colder at the moment (more southern, and nearer to Melbourne). It's a nice change and it almost feels as though we're on a mini roadtrip again. We're not sure if we'll be staying here, until work starts, or if we'll be heading off to Adelaide maybe. It's a little uncertain just yet. I've no definite plans, but when plans are made definite things can so easily so belly-up. But then again, making plans is the only way to get things done.. And the Ozzie mentality doesn't really do "certainty" all too well. So going with the flow is what I'll be doing for now.. and I'll be enjoying the time-off and the nice weather.

If the plans take me anywhere else, you'll be the first to know!