Hazeldell: The Middle of Nowhere

The call came in on a Monday; time to move. The first major crop of oranges and mandarins were ready to the north. We packed out bags, loaded the car, and parted way with Hans who had made the decision to drive to Melbourne well armed with a list of recommendations from myself.

Curlwaa's Abandoned Cash Store

I had thought Curlwaa was pretty out of the way but it was almost civilized compared to our next destination. We drove through Wentworth and followed the Darling river north. As we approached our destination the Tarmac road came to an end and then I knew we were really getting rural; we were in dirt road territory now.

A Dirt Road In Hazeldell

30km away from a town big enough to justify a Super IGA. No mobile service. No internet. Not even a television signal. Closer to the red centre than ever before. Maybe this really was the furthest I’ve ever been from the ocean.

Hazeldell Farmhouse

The farm is an impressive set up. We’ve been put into an old Victorian (in terms of time period, not Australian state) farm house with faux-engravings on the ceilings and walls. Maybe 50 meters from us is the owner’s house and from what I can tell we’re on the edge of a plot of land that covers somewhere around 160km2. There’s a mineral sand mine for computers and toothpaste, there’s heavy machinery and huge bulldozers everywhere. There are oranges and mandarins planted in at least two places and plenty of wild bush land.

Hazeldell Bushland

Our first day here was a day off, which was spent mostly by being lazy but I did take a walk out into the bush. The smell of gum trees fills me with 13 year old nostalgia. Nostalgic for what though, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just the smell. It’s the same smell that had a similar effect on me the first time I visited Melbourne’s botanical gardens. The birds scream and laugh to each other overhead to let them know I’m passing through. The only other sound is the wind dancing through the leaves. Web glistens in the sun, strung over the top of the shrubs and grasses but there’s no sign of spiders. Flies mob me, crawling over my skin, seeking out the healing scratches and bites, the soft moist flesh around my nose and ears.

Picking Ladders

It’s a beautiful place to be and it’s nice to be back inside after a month in a tent. Who knows how long we will be here for, at least until all the oranges are picked I guess and then it’s on to the next farm that is in need of pickers.

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