So once more I have found myself behind on blog posts. So much so I’m writing about arriving in Coffs Harbour and my time here three weeks after I arrived! Poor effort, right?! 😉
But, the fact I’ve been so busy and not had the chance to regularly update my blog surely says something positive about my experience so far, wouldn’t you agree?
So, let’s rewind to three weeks ago to Saturday 22nd November at approximately 7.11am at Sydney Central Station and you would have found myself and my fellow BUNAC-er, Verity, boarding the train that would take us to Coffs Harbour. To say we were a mix of emotions would have been fair – excited to be embarking on an adventure, but nervous about going into the unknown! And what better way to deal with these emotions than an eight hour train ride?!
Thankfully the train really wasn’t that bad. First Great Western could learn a lot from the trains in Australia – I had so much legroom, my seat reclined and I was provided with a Devonshire Tea for the measly cost of $6! And look how big the scones were!!
Once we’d arrived we made our way to the hostel we’d booked in to – Aussitel Backpackers. The booking of this took place after a lot of research on my part a few weeks previously – I wanted somewhere friendly and welcoming, and according to the reviews on sites such as Hostel World and Trip Advisor this was the place for that in Coffs Harbour! The selling points for me in particular were the free hire of equipment such as surfboards, kayaks, snorkels and fishing gear, as well as free WiFi. (I’ve become something of a WiFi vulture since I started travelling!) An added bonus was that this hostel boasted contacts with local farmers who recruit casual workers, and as Verity and I would be looking for work in the area this was a massive selling point.
I’m happy to report that the hostel has turned out to be all that was promised, and everything I was hoping for…without wanting to sound too corny! After a nervous first day or so where we kept ourselves to ourselves a little and explored the area at our own leisure we’ve since settled in and made this place our home. There are plenty of others staying here long term who you can’t help but to make friends with as the hostel staff ensure there is a morning and evening activity every day. These range from trips out to neighbouring towns to kayaking the nearby creek, jumping off the jetty and snorkelling to having a bonfire on the beach. As a result I now well and truly feel as if I’m in Australia, and properly making the most of every day I’m given here.
The area itself is lovely, it’s great to be so close to the beach but still have all local amenities within walking distance. Life is here is incredibly different to the city life I experienced back in Sydney a few weeks ago – as cities go Sydney is a relaxed one in comparison to somewhere like London, but there is still an element of hustle and bustle that isn’t present in somewhere like Coffs Harbour. I also have some friends from the UK who have old friends here who emigrated back in the ’70s, and so I spent one evening being treated to good company and a proper home cooked meal. As the hostel only has hobs and no oven this was a proper luxury as far as I was concerned!
The only downside is the work element – fruit picking is not fun. I don’t even want to write about it, that is how much I hate it. Annoyingly, in order to get my second year visa I need to do 88 days of farm work, fruit picking or some other sort of regional work. I’ve managed five days so far, and on day five I cracked, took handfuls of berries and threw them to the ground whilst screaming about how much I hated nature.
I don’t hate nature really. I just don’t like picking blueberries, and I like it even less when the guys I’m with spend the day throwing the dud berries at my head! It seems guys don’t change even on the other side of the world…! 😛
All in all I love it here. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have stayed for three weeks let’s face it. The people are great, the weather’s not too shabby and I have at least now worked a few days, even if I did hate it! 😉 The plan now is to stay here until Christmas and then potentially somewhere else for New Years – not entirely sure where that’ll be yet though!