I have seen farmers weep for joy and for pain, I have seen big harvests and small, floods and droughts and the anguish of them working for years of 7 long days a week only to end up with nothing much to show for it. I have wondered how a farmer can work those sort of hours to find a product that they get $0.10 a unit for, which then sells in a supermarket for $3.00. Yet theyl get up the next day to work in his paddocks.
I have seen sheep farmers from NSW Southern Tablelands and Victorian pastures do really well with wool production in the 50s and 60s as wool was the flavour of designers only to see wool’s favour fail against the move of man made and other fabrics took the ascendancy.
In the vineyards of South Australia, the Great Western region of Victoria, Hunter Valley and more where a good vintage can actually flood a market and create a glut that drives returns downward.
Yes, I’ve seen it all, the great food bowls of Queensland lush with produce only to be smashed by cyclone.
Who am I? I am Australia, I’ve seen it all.
Today, I know, that being a farmer in this country is more a vocation than a job. That despite the toughness of the life, the often small financial reward, farmers in Australia, do it because the love to grow stuff, they are contributors to this country far beyond what many see.
And so to backpackers, if you’ve made it to Bundaberg, you’ll see why people love the area, sitting at the start of the Great Barrier Reef it is a region that grows most fruits and vegetables, but everything in season.
At the North Bundy Backpackers (Link please), we work directly with farmers to help them fill their casual workers. If you have made it here, you need to understand it can be tough work, not everyone can stick with it. There are early starts, so you need a clear head and it can be hot, so you need to keep hydrated.
But if you pitch in, the rewards are great, you can do your 88 days regional work to extend your visa. But you will also be rewarded with a feeling of achievement. I can’t explain it to you, however, so many of the North Bundy Backpackers “graduates” talk of great working experiences and the amazing friendships they have made.
So why not come and see us?
For those travelling from overseas here is a poem by Aussie poet AB (Banjo) Patterson, he is one of my favourite poets who espouses the tongue in cheek humour that I believe is an intrinsic part of the Aussie character.
The Man from Ironbark
It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,
He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,
Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop.
`’Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I’ll be a man of mark,
I’ll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.’
The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,
He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar:
He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,
He laid the odds and kept a `tote’, whatever that may be,
And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered `Here’s a lark!
Just watch me catch him all alive, this man from Ironbark.’
There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber’s wall,
Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;
To them the barber passed the wink, his dexter eyelid shut,
`I’ll make this bloomin’ yokel think his bloomin’ throat is cut.’
And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:
`I s’pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark.’
A grunt was all reply he got; he shaved the bushman’s chin,
Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.
He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,
Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim’s throat;
Upon the newly shaven skin it made a livid mark —
No doubt it fairly took him in — the man from Ironbark.
He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,
And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear,
He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murd’rous foe:
`You’ve done for me! you dog, I’m beat! one hit before I go!
I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!
But you’ll remember all your life, the man from Ironbark.’
He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout
He landed on the barber’s jaw, and knocked the barber out.
He set to work with tooth and nail, he made the place a wreck;
He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.
And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,
And `Murder! Bloody Murder!’ yelled the man from Ironbark.
A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;
He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.
And when at last the barber spoke, and said, `’Twas all in fun —
‘Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.’
`A joke!’ he cried, `By George, that’s fine; a lively sort of lark;
I’d like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark.’
And now while round the shearing floor the list’ning shearers gape,
He tells the story o’er and o’er, and brags of his escape.
`Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, By George, I’ve had enough,
One tried to cut my bloomin’ throat, but thank the Lord it’s tough.’
And whether he’s believed or no, there’s one thing to remark,
That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.