Melbourne: Grapes Of Wrath

It’s all gotten a little quiet lately and you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d forgotten about the blog. That’s not at all the case, I’m afraid to say that I’ve just not been up to anything that I feel has been exciting enough to share with you. My free time is currently directed towards the search for regional work and the motivation to search for said work.

A Beach In Sydney Harbour

Australia is in some ways a promised land; a laid back culture, beautiful weather and wonderful beaches are often enough to give rise to the dream of a better life. People come here in the thousands, arriving any way they can. A quick glance on the statistics published by the Department of Immigration and Customs shows that Indians are leading the way, followed by the Chinese and then the British. I’ve met people from the UK who are here on a mix of Australian passports, sponsored and working holiday visas. Close to three million people travel to Australia every year, be that to live, work or play and after 8 months here myself, I know the reasons why.

Today though, I’m struggling; obviously not with the reasons why people come here, but how I can stay here for longer. Built in to the Working Holiday Visa is a condition, which on first glance seems to be a relatively simple one to fulfill:
“To apply for a second Working Holiday visa, you must have already completed three months of specified work in regional Australia. This specified work must have been completed while on your first Working Holiday visa.”
I mean, that sounds pretty easy doesn’t it; find a job in regional Australia and work their for three months. What with this being a government requirement, you’d expect that they’d have an extensive list of available resources to help you out as well, wouldn’t you?

Harvest Trail

I wrote that last sentence about a week ago, when I was searching with the kind of attitude a man rather apathetic towards the idea of leaving Melbourne for a prolonged period of time might have. With a bit more extensive research and a change in attitude alongside asking some of the right people so of the right questions I’ve made some reasonable progress into finding a place to work. What I mean by reasonable progress is that I have a phone number for the Harvest Trail to call twice a day every day and a couple of numbers for working hostels to phone at least once a week to check if they have any work going.

Regional Victoria

There was a point where I was drawing comparisons in my mind with the search for regional work and the narrative of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. A young man forced from his home by the powers that be to work on a farm in return for the promise of a brighter future. The struggle against thousands of others to secure a job that pays a living wage. Woe is me, life is tough. Precisely the kind of melodramatic, overbearing thing you’d expect. Well, I’m not going to do it. (I think I just did it.)

James At Work

The work is out there and people are doing it all of the time, I’ve met at least three people who have gone on to work on farms and a couple of others who had already completed it. On paper, it shouldn’t be too difficult for me to find a position for three months. Having asked around I’ve found that I’m at a disadvantage to many other backpackers on the hunt for a farm; I can’t drive. For years, I’ve always maintained that I don’t need to drive, I can get anywhere I want to be by public transport. I can’t get to a farm in the middle of nowhere with no public transport links without a car. Mum, Dad, all my Grandparents and anyone else who has pestered me over the years to get on with learning to drive; I’m sorry, you were right.

The second problem that I’m currently having difficulty with is my location. Melbourne is fast approaching winter and the harvest season is just about done in the regions close to the city and in particular the coast. When I contact people in Queensland, or Western Australia and they ask me where I am, I can hear their tone change as soon as I say it. I’m not nearby, it’s going to take me at least two days to arrange for a flight and get to where ever I need to be and it’s more than likely that there’s someone closer who can start before I’ve even left. Why oh, why did I have to stay here for so long? Oh yeah, that’s right; because I bloody love it.

Melbourne CBD Panorama From Southbank Promenade

It’s now a race against the clock for me; I have four months in which to complete three months work. I’m hopeful that this will be enough time to get something secured otherwise I feel that come September and it’s time to go and I know I won’t be able to come back; I think I’ll be looking back at this time with plenty of regret.

2 responses to “Melbourne: Grapes Of Wrath

  1. I’m in the same boat for Europe. I came over and got a job as an Au Pair, which I now dislike very much, but am trying to find other work to keep me here. Rough lives we lead yeah? Good luck in your quest for work!

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