Wednesday, 12 April, 2017
Sassafras, Tasmania, Australia
I will often lie in bed at night and think about all the wonderful memories I had on the tomato farm a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the period for picking tomatoes has now finished, therefore, the dream of recreating the magic was just not attainable. I wept. However, I decided I needed to be a big boy and move with the season – this week we landed ourselves a gig apple picking.
Ok, so I didn’t exactly have my knees cemented to the floor and hands clutched together with a plea of desperation when seeking out the apple orchard. We ended up picking fruit again, more as a matter of circumstance. The ferry back to the mainland requires more advanced planning than we anticipated, essentially resulting in us being stuck in Tasmania two weeks longer than we had initially desired.
Tasmania is a truly wonderful state; but we had already visited all the places that brought us here in the first place. At first, we decided to try and fill the days in the places the internet didn’t recommend. However, it didn’t take long to realise why these towns were left out of most suggested itineraries.
Well, except one. There is a place at the top of Tasmania called Penguin. And, boy, does that town like penguins. They have multiple penguin statues, the gift shop only sells penguin souvenirs, and even the town bins were designed to look like penguins. While I didn’t actually buy a newspaper, I can picture some of the news headlines in that town.
SHOCKING NEWS: Disturbed Local Man Is Jailed for Eight Years After Claiming That The Red Robin Is The Best Bird.
GOSSIP: Local Celebrity Gets New Beak Job?
BOOK NOW: Flights from Penguin to Antarctica Now Going Fourteen Times a Day.
2016 was generally considered a fairly crap time. Therefore, we could perhaps all do with a Penguin town this year; it seems like a pretty happy and carefree place.
After visiting four relatively similar small towns, we felt like we were just wasting days and money. So, we decided that we’d see if there was any farm work within the area – after all, it made sense for us to try and make a little pocket money while we were short on things to do. We went to an information centre, who in turn gave us the number of a man that loves gathering together desperate fools that will pick all his apples for him; and within two days we were filling crates with the doctor’s favourite fruit.
They were the same colour as tomatoes, only they were massive and didn’t squish in your hand – it was like a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for avid fruit pickers – I guess, I’m not yet an expert, as the months go on though, I could well be – so far I rank apples at number one, and tomatoes number two.
A crate earned us $37, rather than $1.90 – sure, one crate of apples took a little longer to fill than one bucket of tomatoes, but all in all, we’d be making a fair bit more than our previous farm salary of $3.16 an hour – we were delighted by these riches. We had a chat about upgrading the car from the Camry to a Porsche after day one. Mugs become surgeons and lawyers to afford the fancy cars – real heroes get their wheels through picking apples.
As we’re picking, singing, whistling, smiling, and getting carried away with dreams of fast cars, the man in the row next to Monica starts speaking to her in Chinese. They chat for a while, before he offers us his spare room for the whole time we pick apples – obviously, I needed absolutely no translation into what was going on. My Mandarin is probably even better than my English these days.
Big apples and a room with a hot shower, Wi-Fi, and kitchen facilities – the delayed ferry was the best thing that happened to us. The magic didn’t stop there, Howard, the man with the spare room, was also a chef for fifteen years and requested that he cooked our dinner each night. We had Malaysian curry, chicken dinner and apple pie (no points for guessing where the ingredients for that one came from). It was top!
I really wanted to return the favour – but this guy was making meals that were out of this world, and my signature dish is beans on toast. It would have just been awkward serving that up. Nope, I left the cooking to the professional and expressed my gratitude by allocating myself the role of daily pot washer (in a way, I was working two shifts a day when you think about it).
So, yeah, on day one I was certain that I had landed my best ever job, and day two and three were much the same. At that point we were well on our way to a Porsche, I was even considering a private number plate – B1G 4PPL3.
On day four our area was finished and they moved us to a new spot. Apparently, the size of an apple depends on the tree it stems from. The new apples were rubbish – half the size. It was taking double the time to fill crates. We were no longer looking at a Porsche with these pewny things, we’d be lucky if we could even afford a BMW at this rate, for Christ’s sake.
We still picked away and managed seven days’ work – but, these new apples were slowly starting to look more like tomatoes, which was most definitely our calling to leave. We didn’t make enough for a Porsche, or even a BMW in the end, but we did pick enough apples to add up to the price we paid for our current banger of a car – so, whichever way you look at it, facts are facts, we made enough to pay for a car.
To be frank, it was the Australian government that prevented our upgrade – income tax on backpacker earnings is rough – I almost had a heart attack when I got my payslip. This meant that we essentially ended up filling a whole bunch of crates for free. I can claim some of that back when I leave – but, my God, what a bunch of robbing, greedy gits! It is better when I get fired on the first day, at least then they pay me the entire amount I’ve ‘earned’ cash in hand.
We will leave Tasmania tomorrow morning – I’ve really enjoyed this part of the trip. Well, except for the part when the thieving government ran off with all my coin.