Saying goodbye to Balmain Backpackers was probably the hardest goodbye I have had to say since I began my travels. My last week was spent with the hostel crew, savouring every last minute. There were so many amazing people at that hostel who I grew so close with. We were like one big family, always looking out for each other.
I had planned for my last night in Sydney to be a big night, but it was even better than I had expected. The girls in my room put signs up around the hostel telling me I was not allowed in the basement, they aren’t exactly a stealthy group. A number of people helped out in decorating the basement, streamers and posters were hung all throughout the garage, tables were set up for beer pong, and speakers were scouted out and set up. We all dressed up in goofy clothing, just for the fun of it.
When I was finally allowed in the basement, everyone was there waiting to spend my last night with me. The gang at the hostel made me a book with quotes, and letters from everyone in the hostel. I do admit that I cried when I read it. I spent a lot of the night in tears. I didn’t even cry when I said goodbye to my friends back home in Canada. I guess the difference is that I know I will be going home, I don’t have to worry about that, but I couldn’t kid myself, there’s a good chance I won’t see the majority of these people again. And that sucks.
I’m not going to lie, the constant goodbyes are exhausting. I love travelling I love the adventures and all the sights. I love the people I meet, there are so many incredible stories and tales you hear from others, so many amazing people who can make a hung impact on your life in such a short period of time. The fact is, the majority of people you meet when you travel is other travellers, you each have your own agenda and your own dream you’re following. It’s not like leaving home, knowing that you can go back to the same people. Some people you do keep in touch with, sometimes your paths will cross again and it will be great, but other times, those people who may have inspired you so much, will just remain a memory. I know it’s the reality of it, but it’s still one thing I really struggle to accept.
After a great night of laughs, tears, cheers, and raised drinks, I headed off with Helena and Louise to watch sunrise from the park down the road. It was a beautiful morning and it was great to be able to spend every last minute with the girls I had become best friends with in such a short period of time. When the time came they caught the bus and the train with me to the airport. I was close to missing my plane, I was fast tracked through check-in and had to run as fast as I could to security, then to my gate, so there wasn’t much time for goodbyes. I think it’s better that way. We were all in tears.
I didn’t sleep much on the flight to Cairns. I had a stop over in Townsville before connecting to Cairns. I’m glad I had the stop over because the first plane I was on was extremely cramped, and rather unclean. The connecting flight however was much more comfortable, despite being a shorter flight. As I flew from Townsville to Cairns I flew over the Great Barrier Reef. It was so cool to see from so high up, I can’t wait to return to Cairns to go diving there.
I spent my first night in the Nomads hostel on the outskirts of the city center. The hostel felt a bit like a prison. The folks at reception were extremely friendly and helpful, but the hostel itself put me off a bit. I didn’t speak with one single backpacker while I was there.
The next morning I checked out and caught the shuttle into the city. I booked into a different hostel called Asylum. Louise had stayed there before and said it was great, so I decided to give it a go. As I approached the hostel it looked like an old house that was a bit run down. I didn’t let that put me off though, Balmain had given me the same first impression and it turned out amazing. Asylum didn’t fail me either.
As I checked in the employees were all super fun and friendly, cracking jokes and having a laugh. The chatted with the other backpackers as if everyone was a friend opposed to just being a business. As soon as I was taken to my room the backpackers in my room all introduced themselves. There were two guys in my room, Ollie and Adam, who didn’t hesitate to be welcoming. They invited me to join them with everything there did, even if it was just sit outside for bit instead of lazy around the room. There was a Canadian couple in the hostel who were leaving the next day, but they were both super friendly as well and had me come drink with them and have a laugh. Hostels really are about the people who stay in them.
I had a great two days staying at Asylum. I’m almost glad I didn’t stay longer because I got along with everyone there so well I didn’t want to have to say any more hard goodbyes. I was even kind of glad that I left at 5:45 AM so I din’t even really have to see anyone in the morning to say bye, I just left.
I caught the Greyhound at 6:30 AM and spent nearly eleven hours on the bus. I slept the majority of the ride as there wasn’t really anything to do and the scenery didn’t change too much once we were out of Cairns. It had started as lush, green mountains, but the land quickly became flat, and the trees shorter and less green. There was another guy on the bus with me, Max. He was heading out to the roadhouse too. He’d been out here before for five months before moving to Sydney. When he ran out of money there he decided to come back this way to save up a bit more. That was reassuring as it can’t be that bad of a place to work if people are willing to come back.
We arrived in Normanton a bit before 5 PM where Wayne picked Max and I up. From there it was a little over two hours to the roadhouse. I didn’t sleep this time. Instead I gazed out the window at the freakishly large birds, wild emus, wallabies, and kangaroos. yes, i finally saw my first wild kangaroo. They are rather entertaining things to watch hop around. Their tails are huge, That was probably what I noticed most. I would not want to get whacked with a kangaroo tail.
We pulled into the Roadhouse and were introduced to the rest of the crew right away. There were only three more people to meet. I fist met Sarah, an Irish girl who has been working there for a couple months now but is leaving at the end of the week. Henrick, a young lad from somewhere in Europe (I don’t remember where), who is leaving in a week and a half. Then there was Carol, Wayne’s wife, the two of them manage the property. We were offered food but I wasn’t very hungry.
I was thrilled when I saw the rooms we were in. We had a trailer set up with the backpacker’s bedrooms. I had been told that the accommodation isn’t the best and they aren’t great living standards, but I have no problem with my room. I have my own room, a comfy bed- It’s not even a bunk bed, a desk that’s just some boards nailed together, and an old shabby wardrobe. I spent at least an hour that evening sorting my room out, unpacking my bag and setting things up. It was the first time since I have been on the road that I have had a wardrobe to keep my things. It’s the first time I have had a table to set my fiddly bits on as well. I made my bed up and hung some letters from friends on the walls. The best part is that my room even has air conditioning. It’s extremely humid and hot here. I still feel spoiled by having such simple things.
I woke up early this morning and made my bed (I didn’t even do that when I was living at home, I was just so excited to have a proper bed), then headed inside for breakfast. I sat and had some eggs on toast while taking in my surroundings a bit more. i wasn’t sure what to do with myself so I started work early.
Coming into this job I wasn’t really sure what I would be doing, but it turns out I’m doing everything. My job includes cleaning rooms, making beds, working the till, working behind the bar, and working in the kitchen. I do have a bit of experience with housekeeping from when I worked for accommodation in New Zealand, and I have worked lots with tills, but the bar work and kitchen work is all new to me. The bar is pretty straight forward, it’s mostly just popping caps off bottles and handing them over the counter, not so much work there. The kitchen however, has me a bit stumped. I have cooked lots for myself and have cooked for my family a bit back home, but never like I am supposed to cook here. The menu includes things like bacon and eggs, spaghetti on toast, steaks, and lamb chops. Everyone keeps telling me it’s quite simple, I hope they’re right. I am a bit excited to work in the kitchen, but also terrified I will poison someone.
The roadhouse itself had not air conditioning, so I spent the whole day sweating. There is only one tap on the property that produces cold water as it’s so hot out the pipes all end up heating the water. I can’t even take cold showers because the water is so warm. I couldn’t tell you how many litres of water I drank today. It was a bit ridiculous. I didn’t think one person could consume so much liquid without peeing.
The wildlife here is a whole other story. There are about ten ferule cats that come hang out waiting to be fed. The toads here are massive and there are green frogs everywhere you walk. You have to flush the toilets before using them because frogs sometimes like to hang out in them and will just out at you when you go to have a seat. There are wallabies and kangaroos that wander through the property, splashing about in puddles. My least favourite though would have to be the brown snakes. I have not spotted one yet and everyone else says they haven’t seen them, but there are signs posted on all the bathroom doors saying to keep the doors shut as the brown snakes like to visit often. I hope that’s a lie.
My first day at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse is now over, tomorrow is a new day. I worked around ten hours today and tomorrow will probably be similar so I suppose I should catch some sleep and prepare for another long, hot day day tomorrow. Goodnight *Woop Woop, I will see you in the morning.
*Woop Woop is what Australian’s call the outback. The first time I heard it I was a little confused but I have now accepted it as a rather fun term to use.