• Joanna

Back in Bundy

Updated: May 30

Back in Bundaberg.

I think I'd been on the bus for over 20 hours.

Not a cent to my name and under STRICT instructions from Ethel that there were to be no parties for me until I'd paid them back for the bus ticket.


My journal entry;

"April 5th...

I think Ethel is losing it... but it's good to be back home."


Odd... considering she had only just helped me get home (Bundaberg) from Sydney. I was probably just upset I wasn't permitted to party... yet.


Bring on the tomatoes... again.


As you can rightfully see, we had all landed our dream job.

Full of laughter to and fro the killing fields...

You know... it wasn't always tomatoes we had to pick.

And we weren't always in the picking tractors.

Sometimes we had to walk the rows, with buckets... hunched over and picking the fruit... and carrying the heavy buckets to the end of each row.


We picked watermelons, mangos, green peppers, zucchini...

Sometimes we didn't pick at all. Our entire day would be spent weeding, building fences, planting seeds, pulling twinkler systems and plastic out of the ground...

Yep.


It was a lot of HARD work.

Back-breaking hard work sometimes.

Man, did we come home filthy every single day.

BUT...

I have never laughed so much in my entire life.


I. Remember. That. Above. All.


I think we actually took pride in how dirty we got. Sometimes we were so disgusting that it almost seemed wrong to shower. Disrespectful in regards to showing off our work ethic. Our filthiness was a sign of our drudgery and the backbreaking sacrifices we'd endured in order to survive the day.


Sarah and I got in to a lot of trouble in the tomato fields because we were having too much fun. I fail to see how ‘too much fun’ and ‘picking tomatoes’ can go hand in hand, but obviously they did. Sarah and I were separated.


Then all we did was sing the song, “Gotta keep ‘em separated.”


I don’t think they appreciated that either.

Ang & I were addicted to singing old show tunes, theme songs and commercials in the tomato fields. We never seemed to tire of trying to remember the words and then belting them out across the farmlands.


I think everyone really enjoyed that about us...


We thought we were cool because we were filthy.

Ethel made us shower because we stunk like a brewery.


When I first arrived in #bundaberg, I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the prospect of picking fruit.

Ya... it was a quick and (somewhat) easy way for travelers to make money... but it was hard work. After my first day out on the killing fields, I arrived back at City Centre Backpackers, determined to pack my bags and venture off to find a job as a nanny somewhere.


That plan didn't really work out.


I spent... on and off... MONTHS in Bundy... and then even took off to pick grapes and apples in #mildura and #batlow with people I'd met.

While we were in Australia, the Flaming Lips had a big hit with their song, "Vaseline." We liked it too... but re-wrote the lyrics to fit our tomato-picking lifestyle at the time.


I have only included the first verse in this post, as I think the second & third, perhaps, contain language much too inappropriate for the likes of a respectable blog :-)

#shepickstomatoes


Heading back to Bundaberg was probably one of the best decisions I ever made.

NOT in regards to the work... but the friendships made. Some of which still stand today.


This is where I met Ang, Sarah, Charlotte and Dara... and of course, was reconnected with Azhra, Ashlynn and Donna. They ended up broke and had to make their way back to the killing fields as well.

We were inseparable, absolutely hilarious... and BIG trouble when we all got together.

#bundaberggirls

Ang and Sara were from Powell River and are still friends of mine, to this day. We hit it off immediately. I can't exactly remember how we met, but it probably went along the lines of;

- They probably walked into the hostel.

- I might have said hello and asked they were they were from.

- Chat... chat... chat... discover we were all at the Rolling Stones concert in Sydney.

(a mere 4-5 rows apart too! Both Ang and I were both equally annoyed with some random in the crowd yelling ANGIE to Mick Jager... )

- I probably offered to show them our fun beer garden.


This is probably EXACTLY how it happened. In fact, I'm willing to bet money on it.


They allowed me to glob onto them, thought I still fail to see how Ang had the strength to put up with the excessive and frequent drinking Sara and I did.


Had Instagram been around in 1995, these photos would have skyrocketed HIGH with likes.

Definitely a couple of my favourites...

I shared a room with Ang and Sarah.

Sara was on the top bunk, I was in the middle and Ange was on the bottom.


Ang (and her boyfriend, Terry) used to wake me up (mornings, naps... etc) with a song and a show.


"Give me Hope, Joanna" by Eddy Grant.


It was the first time I'd ever heard the song... and then suddenly the tune became a daily feature in my Bundaberg life.


Little did I know it would become my theme song 24 years later, when I was on my way to Johannesburg.

The infamous #bundaberg beer garden and our discovery of Nikov seem to go hand in hand. It was definitely alcohol with an attitude. Orange and vodka flavoured wine in a box. Orange rocket fuel.


Ethel quote ~ "If you ever come home that drunk again, you're out!"

Lethal. Deadly. They were trying to ban it while I was there... so, of course, we had to drink it.


This is what happens when you get between an abusive husband and his submissive wife... drunk... at the Bundaberg nightclub.


She spent all night in the bathroom in tears... and I sat on the floor, beside the toilet, and sang "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" to her...

... on repeat...

... all night long...



Bundaberg memories in one of my precious memory books...


One of my greatest regrets is not giving MORE description as to some of my funnies.

Yes, a lot of them, I do remember...


But some of them are just sentences... lost, without meaning now...


These two used to annoy us because they were inseparable.


None of us could understand their relationship because we went from the tomato fields to the bar and back to the tomato fields.


That was the extent of our commitment and we had zero room for anything else.


Ashlynn from Northern Ireland.

Simon from the Andreoli farm in Bundaberg.

STILL married to this day.


AND... funny enough... Simon's family farm was one of the farms I was fired from in Bundaberg.

Bet they regret that now...

Now that I'm a famous Internet blogger with 7 followers.


Kicking themselves now, eh.


Memories:

Tequila Jelly. Chickie Doll. Sarah lost a shoe. Easy Tiger. Gigolo Matt. Back in Black. Say No to crack. Ken and his 10 years of Judo. Passion Pop Night. The blind leading the blind.

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