My friend and I were in the second month of our year-long Australian working holiday visa slumming it up and we decided we needed jobs. After looking for 5 minutes online and knowing we are dainty human beings not geared for manual labour we came to the conclusion that we should pick fruit. We decided to leave Melbourne and head to a town called Mildura which was about an 8-hour bus ride north from where we were. We found out through minimal research that this was THE place to be to pick fruit. I am sure if the Queen wanted to pick fruit she would go there. When we arrived at 10 pm it was roughly 38 degrees. Perfect tenting conditions. You can imagine during the day it got a tad hot as hell. Actually hell probably at least has a nice breeze. Pothole tar coverings melted to our sandals.
We tried to look for jobs, we really did. Originally, we went to a hostel where they said they could get us work on a farm but we had to stay in the hostel which provided the transport. Since they charged outrageous amounts to stay there we said ta ta and left. Did I mention there was terrible flooding in Queensland so all the fruit pickers headed south and there were barely any jobs? The next day we almost got jobs in a pasta restaurant but we felt bad about lying about how long we wanted to stay there so we turned them down. Instead of working, our days were filled with us walking 1 hour each way to Kmart, visiting some goats or playing in the pool located at our campsite. Once while walking on our daily Kmart trip, a family stopped to ask if we needed a ride. We were clearly the talk of the town (no we weren’t).
One night we almost died in our tent. We finally fell asleep after sweating through our sheets when at about 3 am we were woken up. Turns out there were some people in very large trucks who were doing doughnuts right next to our tent. When I say next to I mean when we looked at first light there were tire marks about a meter from our tent. I think they didn’t see us since we were the only ones camping in that area of the field. Before you get all judgy and say oh well I’m sure you weren’t supposed to set up your tent there, I assure you, we were in a designated area.
After our failed attempts at working, logically, we knew that we had to go to Indonesia if we wanted to save money. So we booked one-way tickets over the phone with a Virgin Airways employee. I mention this because I want to ensure that we are not blamed for what happened at that airport later. Our flight left from Adelaide to Sydney then to Bali. We took the bus to Adelaide and it was a hoot. At one point we stopped at a place on a map. You can’t call it a town since in the 45 minutes that we waited for our connecting bus we saw no automobiles. NONE. There was only a bench and a gas station as far as the eye could see. When we arrived in Adelaide we spent the night in the airport, the airport closed so we had to sleep outside but we were told there was a police station nearby so it was fine. The morning of our flight we were naturally first in line at 5 am for our 7-something departure. The check-in counter opens and the lady beep bleep boops some stuff in the computer and then pauses.
“Can I please see proof of your onward journey?”
“You can’t enter Indonesia without an onward ticket. It is required or the airline can get a hefty fine.” (I worked for an airline ages ago so I knew this was true)
“We understand but the thing is we booked it through your Virgin Airways agent via the phone and she never said anything about needing an onward ticket.”
“Sorry I can’t let you on the flight without one.”
She called her manager over and she tried to see if there was anything she could do since it was the Virgin employee’s responsibility to inform us that we couldn’t book a one-way flight to Indonesia. At this point, it is 6:45 am so we were getting closer to our departure time. I finally suggested that we book a full-fare return flight. These tickets are for those rich business people since they are crazy expensive BUT they can be cancelled anytime and refunded in full. So the plan was to cancel them once we were in Bali and book a cheaper flight when we knew we wanted to leave. You may be thinking that this plan seems extremely risky and ill-advised and let me assure you it was. After a panicky phone call to my friend’s mother at 2 am Canada time, we were able to get a credit card that had a high enough limit to pay for these tickets. Since it was so much money I confirmed 100% that the flight was fully refundable, could be cancelled without a fee and that we would get the money back on the card the same day. Needless to say, although the manager said yes to my question, it was actually more of a sort of. We had to run to catch our flight and I hate running so you can guess how great my mood was at this time.
The flight was fine, we didn’t die so that was a plus. We arrive at our hostel and I call Virgin to cancel the flight. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to explain the situation and in the end, the flights were cancelled but of course, they decide not to do a same-day refund so with the exchange rate and credit card fee we ended up losing like 80 bucks. I hate Virgin Airways.
In Bali, we ate cheap and as a bonus, only one of us got food poisoning once. Since we like living on the edge, we ended up going back to that same restaurant a few days later. We loved saving money and McDonalds delivers. We did some rafting thing where there were rock carvings- I think it was Ayung river rafting- but don’t hold me to it. At one point, my friend and I took a satisfyingly inexpensive taxi from Bali to Lovina. Why you ask, well obviously because there was cheap accommodation waiting on the other end. What else was in Lovina? Not much. There was a road with a gas station on it.
There was also this HORRIFIC dolphin sunrise tour in Lovina that we went on but we wish we didn’t. If you have ever seen Jaws- it was like that. I have never seen Jaws but our boat was the shark and the driver basically ran over the dolphins in pursuit of seeing them. There were probably 20 other boats that were doing the same thing. It was awful.
OH and if you go to a neighbouring town 10 kilometres away there is this cool water spa pool thing called Banjar hot springs. If you go, make sure to arrange a ride back because there are no taxis in the area. After waiting for ages randomly this guy pulled up in an unmarked van. He didn’t even have any ice cream but we eagerly got in. There was no bottom really to the vehicle so my feet practically dangled onto the road below. It was exhilarating.
We travelled to a different country and may have gotten emotionally scarred in the pursuit of savings but it was well worth it.
Above: We brought our cosy 2 person tent with us from Canada but we needed to buy a secondary Kmart tent to house our stuff.