January was definitely the hardest month of travel, beginning with failing to find regional work, not helped by the creepy guy incident in Sydney and then a rather turbulent first couple of weeks getting to grips with working in Winton.
February was a rollercoaster ride in itself, coming to the outback was never part of the plan, but now I can confidently say it’s been the best part of my trip so far. I came here desperate to pass some time and thought getting a job in a hotel would be a good way to pass the time, but now I scold past Holly for being so naive, I’ve been welcomed into the fold of Winton and now after six weeks I am about to move on to Julia Creek to start my three months regional work. You know that thing that drove me crazy enough to come out here in the first place? Funny how things work out..
Coming here has been challenging in so many ways, when I arrived the honeymoon period of travel had worn off and I had spent a month stressing over finding farm work. In the end I just wanted a job and I wanted out of Sydney, I found the job on gumtree and headed out to Winton.
This is true Australia as they say, the people are hardy, tough and yet the kindest I’ve ever met. In the beginning I was a very quiet Barmaid and not the most welcoming, travelling had made me realise I’m much more introverted than I thought and for a while I’d let myself become more and more shy. After a chat with my boss, who told me to “remember you’re interesting”, I realised that part of adapting to the outback was challenging myself. I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I stayed shy and kept avoiding talking to people. I had to push myself and it paid off, I now find it easy to strike up conversation with almost anyone and the people I’ve met have been truly incredible.
Adjusting to life in a small town has been an experience, 1,000 people live in Winton but the town is pretty empty at the moment because it’s so hot out here. Even though I thought I’d never settle in at first, once I began making friends with the regulars I became part of this close knit community.
Once you’re in you’re in people know your name, you get used to seeing the same faces every day and if you don’t see someone for a couple of days you begin to worry about them. Working in the hotel also meant I got to meet travellers and workers passing through and they interesting personalities and stories to tell too, so though I’ve been technically out of the backpacking loop for a month I’ve still been around travellers which is always good.
Of course I had to get used to the Australian sense of humour, culture and of course I had to learn how to speak and understand Australian… yes I’m being serious. Being one of a few pommies has been interesting has led to no end of discussions over our cultural differences.
In particular my favourite discussion was over the Ozzie term “gives me the shits”. In British English ‘the shits’ refers to a very unfortunate illness, whereas when an Australian says “it gives me the shits” something has really pissed them off.
The tables were turned on me when I asked a local who coughed if he had the lurgy. “What was that you said? And you say the Australians have silly slang!”
There’s always something happening here, so much so that I was inspired to serialise my time here in the Outback Barmaid Diaries. Becoming immersed in the community and all the different dynamics and quirks made me want to share some of the stories of what goes on in an outback town. When I worked in a supermarket I thought I had regulars who I saw every week, here I pretty much have someone to have a beer and a yarn with any day of the week!
It took some time to adapt to living and working in the same place, if I sit at the bar when I’m not working I’ll start thinking about the little jobs that could be done, so unless I knew someone in the bar who I could hang out with I avoid hanging out there.
It takes a lot of mental stamina to live and work in the outback especially if you don’t have a car. I didn’t leave town for a whole month, before I cracked and asked a local to take me to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. It was the highlight of my stay, it’s a tiny up and coming museum, but to me it was the best museum I’ve visited. The staff are passionate about what they do, and are proud to be able to display the largest collection of dinosaur bones in Australia. I plan to write a whole post dedicated to it so watch this space.
(Age of Australian Dinosaurs Museum )
This month was mainly about overcoming the challenges of moving to a new place, being pushed to the limits but also needing to put myself out of my comfort zone. I very nearly considered leaving after my first week in Winton, truth be told, but I didn’t want to take the easy way out. I told myself I had to give myself and the place a chance and now I’m quite sad to be leaving after six weeks, though I’m glad to have found my regional work.im not sure how, but I think I’ve grown a lot this month and I owe a lot of it to the kindness of the people of Winton, and in particular Jedi who looked out for me during my first few weeks and when I was struggling the most confessed that she felt the same, but assured me that “I got this”, it took me a while to believe it but I got there.
(Paddock plan for mustering at Gameda)
Earlier this month I was offered the chance to cook and clean at a cattle station in Julia Creek. I’m only four months into my travels around Australia, but there is so much to see and I can’t pass up the opportunity to spend another year here. I am sad to be leaving Winton, and I am feeling a bit nervous about starting again somewhere new, but from what my experience here has taught me going in with a willing attitude and an ability to keep pushing yourself puts me in good stead for the challenges ahead.
I’m excited for the next part of my travels, and will be writing more about my experiences in Winton soon!
Thanks for reading