Big Fat Trip travel blog

Gill at work. Not very dirty yet....!

Jim, on the job, so to speak. You can see the red...

A Cotton Module Builder - our workplace for 4 weeks.

A freshly built cotton module. Worth about A$10,000 each.

The bus trip was supposed to have been 4 hours. After a hasty exit from the backpackers to the bus station, as we had both slept through the alarm, we set off on time. After travelling for about 2 hours, the bus conked out in a place called Biloela. It took Macaffertys 3 hours to get a replacement bus out to us so we called Penny (our new employer) to let her know that we would be late. We finally arrived and Penny picked us up from the bus stop.

Penny and Harrod greeted us and welcomed us into their home. We had a double room with airconditioning, and the bed was very comfy! Off to a good start. Harrod drove us around the farm in the afternoon and we met their two sons, Kirk (25 and full time farm worker) and Mitchell (22 just left uni and about to start his first proper job in St George). We leart a bit about how cotton grows and saw the endless acres of cotton that we were due to pick over the following weeks.

Kirk lived in another property on the other side of Theodore with his girlfriend, Fleur. She was really nice and friendly. Kirk had had a bad car accident on Boxing Day last year and Fleur had been hurt in the crash leaving a horrendous scar on her arm. We saw the state of the car after the crash - couldn't recognise it as being a Commodore.

The first couple of days were spent preparing for the picking to commence. The weather was extremely hot and humid and even Harrod admitted it was hotter than usual. Mitchell had the job of training us up on the model builders as he was off to his new job at the end of the week. On Tuesday another guy from Visit Oz joined us. His name was Joost (pronounced Yoast) and was from Holland. He was nice enough - a bit young and silly at times, being only 19! He stayed with Kirk and Fleur at Willcania, the other farm.

Once the cotton is nearly ready to pick, it is first sprayed with 'Prep' which makes the top bolls of the plant open, then it is sprayed with 'Drop' which kills the leaves of the plant. Then it's ready to pick! If it rains at all during this process, then the next stage is delayed. Unfortunately we had a couple of big down pours whilst we were there so picking was delayed a couple of times. For us this meant sitting around the farm all day with nowt to do which was not all much fun.

Our jobs were to operate the cotton module builders. These are huge 'bin' type machines that are moved and powered by tractors. They are about 40 ft long and 9ft deep and press around 19 tonnes of cotton in each module. We were in charge of building the modules, ensuring they were evenly pressed etc, so they don't fall apart when they are transported to the cotton 'gin' to be cleaned and prepared for exporting. It was hot, heavy, dirty and pretty boring work and the days were long (12 hours on) but it was fun at times. It was a god introduction to rural working life in Australia and has prepared us for our next job.

After three weeks on the job, we packed our bags once again and headed off on the backpaacker trail once again.

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