“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going”
I’ve been in Australia about 18 months now, and haven’t written in here since this time last year. Good writer.
Well, where have I been? I guess I should start where I left off: the job I was going to take in the outback to bring myself back from being broke…
So, I bit the bullet and went to Longreach, a small town west of Brisbane. An 18 hour coach journey west of brisbane to be precise.
I don’t know what I expected when I turned up, a cowboy town, a village with only one shop and a pub, or a place where everyone would hate me. I really didn’t know. It turned out to be a very welcoming, and warm little town with a population of 3137.
I worked there for a month, pretty much all day every day. I got one full day off the entire time I worked there, but to be honest, one day was enough. It was interesting, to say the least … Seeing how people live outside of city life. I mean, I’m a small town girl, but this was something different. I probably served about 10 people in my entire day, if it was a good day. I’m talking about people who actually came in and sat down and had a chat with me. I got to know the regulars, mostly old men, truckers or coach drivers, and I met some characters. One guy used to come in nearly every day, I can’t remember his name… He’d drink three double scotch and sodas, order a bottle of scotch to go and then get in his car and drive home. He was about 93.
To be honest, it’s probably one of the friendliest places I’ve ever stayed in, everyone made me feel like a part of the town, I even met up with one of the guys, Luke, when he was in Brisbane a couple of weeks after I moved back.
In the beginning it was quite nice, the first week another backpacker was there showing me the ropes before I left, I had my own room (and double bed, ahh the life of luxury!!) I got to know the local shops, I became a member of the library, and I read a lot. It was nice to have some serious time out, in a new environment, but then I got bored. I was the only backpacker hired, I worked with about 4 other people (not all at the same time) and I could count the amount of people I spoke to a day on one hand sometimes. I’d never felt so lonely before.
One of the regular old guys, Rex, kinda took me under his wing a bit .. he always came in for a chat, and he took me to one of longreach’s only tourist attractions: The Stockmans Hall of Fame. He used to be a stockman so he was really excited to show me around, but unfortunately, it was about as exciting as it sounds. Again, interesting to learn about a different way of life, but boring. He invited me to a cattle sale later in the month, and I jumped at the chance to experience something “outbacky” but it ended up being a day after I flew back to Brisbane, so I was a little bit gutted I wouldn’t get to scream prices at cows. Or whatever it is you do at those things.
Other than that, there were two more tourist attractions… And I went to them both, naturally. One was the QANTAS museum, which I visited on Australia Day, and I actually enjoyed that (believe it or not!) and the Thomson River. I was told multiple times afterwards that if you cross the river it means you’ll come back to Longreach in 7 years time … I’m not so sure on that one.
All in all, it was an experience. I pictured it as a cowboy town where I’d learn to ride horses, and watch epic sunsets over vast areas of dry land with my new country friends, sipping beer and looking extraordinarily tanned. However, things never turn out the way you picture them: I was ironing pillow cases for 2 hours a day, spending my breaks in my air conditioned room because it was way too hot to sunbathe, and making friends with whoever would speak to me.
At the time, I was upset about the fact I had to leave all of my friends and had to work every day in a quiet pub in the middle of nowhere. But looking back, I’m glad my travels took me there, because I have a different story to tell. That’s the best thing about travelling, you never know where it’s going to take you. You can have plans, sure, but if you want to be a true traveller, they’re never concrete plans.