We’re just coming to the end of our first week in Australia. We landed in Brisbane on Monday morning, and after dropping our luggage off at the hostel, spent two intense days hunting for a used car we could rely on. Cue lots of public transport and walking! On Monday we had little luck, and walked for hours. Brisbane is big! Little European me was in shock. We did have lunch with our Australian ‘aunt,’ a member of the lovely and huge family who has adopted us for our time in regional Australia. It was truly a blessing to have someone look out for us as soon as we landed! We didn’t visit much of Brisbane, but got enough of a first impression to know that we liked it and would definitely be back. On Tuesday we secured a lovely 2003 Toyota Camry (Holly, who drives and has owned cars, trusts it, and I think it’s pretty.)
We’re now settled-ish into our life in regional Queensland: it’s cold in the morning and the evening, stifling during the day, and there’s no wifi; the sunrises and sunsets are stunning, the stars are the brightest I’ve ever seen, and the landscape never ceases to amaze me. We’ve seen what feels like a bajillion kangaroos and wallabies, and are still not bored by them. There’s been one snake as well, but I’d be happy not to see anymore. Everyone seems to get up with the sun, and finish work with the sun as well (there are no daylight savings here, so that’s actually quite early), and we’re working hard to adapt to these hours, with some success. We haven’t made ourselves particularly useful on the farm yet, but we’ve locked the chickens up (once), fed the cows bread as a snack, and confused everyone by going for runs in the middle of the day (it’s hot. Did I mention that it’s hot in the middle of the day?).
The family has been fantastic and warm. We’re living with the great-grandparents, and are gradually being introduced to the whole dynasty. We’ve had a welcome BBQ, been taken to a rodeo (my first rodeo! I loved it! I want to try! But I hate what they do to the animals to make them buck. But I want to try. But I hate it. I’m so torn) and are going on a ten-day camping trip to Fraser Island tomorrow. We’ve also done some touring around Brisbane, which is a really fun and vibrant, and been up to the stunning Sunshine Coast briefly.
On the other hand, we’ve been desperately searching for specified work to qualify us for our 2nd year Visa. For the 3rd day now, we’re nestled in a cafe, with wifi, calling farms, applying online, submitting resumés (it doesn’t matter that our resumés have nothing whatsoever do to with horticultural or pastoral duties, they just want to know we’re not criminals). We also spent one day driving around and knocking on doors, with limited success and some downright unpleasant encounters. For the most part though, everyone has been lovely, right down to the random dude in the street who told us where we could buy an espresso maker. So far we have a couple of promising options lined up, and are waiting to see what comes of our labours. It gets a bit difficult to stay positive and excited, and some days we forget that we’re on the other side of the world, in an entirely new country, on a new adventure. I try hard to actively remind myself of this, and to remain awed and amazed by myself and my surroundings. We’ve also only been here a week, so it dawned on us that we are putting ourselves under a lot of pressure, and forgetting to be kind to ourselves. It’s difficult when no one wants us.
On a more serious note, the area is actually going through its worse drought in a while. It hasn’t rained properly here since February, so farmers are struggling to maintain their crops and livestock, let alone any extra labour. Usually, our hosts survive comfortably over spring and summer on water from their rain tank, but this year it might be necessary to buy water from the government.
Holly and I are also experimenting with the ‘no-poo’ hair washing method, inspired by my secondary school friend Katt (http://myveganexperiment.com/; https://oceanpancake.com/; or find her on Facebook and Instagram: vegandiverkatt). We’re going to look gross for the first month, but will never need to use shampoo or conditioner again! I’m motivated by environmental concerns, saving water and reducing my need for plastic, and sheer laziness since I actually hate washing my hair. Instead of using shampoo, we just massage our scalp with warm water, then rinse with cold water. Fingers crossed! I also got a haircut. This ties into my other efforts to live a more environmentally friendly and chemical free life: I use coconut oil as toothpaste, make-up primer and remover, and face and body cream; I use a bamboo toothbrush; I’m buying only local produce, and I’m staying away from plastic. I’d also like to start making my own shower gel, body scrub, deodorant, and cleaning/detergent products. Ideally, all coconut oil based, of course!
I’ll write about Singapore in another post, next time I hit a wifi hotspot.