I live in the middle of nowhere and it’s incredible.
I honestly never thought I’d be this happy and content with being a good hours drive away from the next town. But I am! Who knew that the girl who left the UK nigh on nine months ago loving her towns and cities could be converted into a lil’ country bumpkin?!
I arrived in Tullamore on Monday 29 June, having left Cairns the previous day. I flew from Cairns to Sydney, then stayed overnight in a hostel ready to catch the 6.18am(!) train to Parkes. (Funny story: I Facebook stalked the Tullamore Hotel once I got to my hostel and saw the most recent post was about someone falling into the fire! Not the most reassuring thing to see, and I made sure not to point this out to The Mothership or any other family back home!) The train took almost seven hours, and once I reached Parkes I was met by a friend of my new boss who had volunteered to pick me up. After running a few errands with her we then began the hour long car journey to Tullamore. All this travelling made me realise just quite how remote this place would be as there is so much space between one town and the next! A luxury that definitely can’t be said for England!
I was definitely plunged in at the deep end once I arrived in Tullamore on that Monday. I’m working for and staying at the Tullamore Hotel, and my first shift was to work behind the bar that evening. Having never pulled a pint before this was pretty daunting but as much as I don’t care to admit it that’s how I learn best, and so really it all worked out in my favour. It was here that I got my first taste for country life and was introduced to a few of the locals – all with names like Goob, Spike, Boomer and Snowy. I could already sense the community feeling and spirit around here as they were all nothing but kind, friendly, understanding and incredibly patient whilst I bumbled around behind the bar trying to make sense of everything! I’m living here at the Tullamore Hotel with my boss, her partner and their son who is 6. To begin with I was the only backpacker here, however a week into my time here I was joined by another female backpacker called Michaela. Michaela is Scottish and has been in Australia almost as long as me so we’ve had good fun sharing our experiences with one another. It’s great having another girl similar in age around here and we get on so well it’s like we’ve known each other for much longer than a couple of days! Then a few days ago another backpacker, Ben, arrived. He’s from Canada and has been in Australia for about four months so Michaela and I are having lots of fun imparting our worldly wisdom upon him – regardless of whether he asks for it or not! The days since my arrival have been full of firsts, and that is something I am incredibly proud of. Before I left home I found trying new things really hard and very daunting as I used to really struggle with the concept of not being perfect at something on the first go. It’s a really silly worry I know, but something really hard to let go of. However, since I got here I’ve been on quad bikes, I’ve fed a goat (that didn’t go so well though as the goat didn’t touch any of what I gave her!), I’ve shot a rifle and I’ve driven a ute! Up until a few days ago the biggest thing I’d ever driven was a Mini Cooper!
I spent my first day off out droving with a few guys who were in the pub the night before. Yes, you read that right, droving – not driving! Droving is the term for herding animals, not that I was aware of this beforehand and the guys had way too much fun winding me up about all the horrors that could potentially await me the next day. In reality there were no horrors at all, just incredibly friendly people and yet another way of life to learn about. They told me all about how they spend most of their time on the road, camping and travelling the country with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of cattle. It was all so interesting, and they already had my full attention but then they showed me one of the cows had feet coming out of its neck and my mind was totally blown! Look!
This whole experience is so surreal and full of things I never thought in a million years I’d be doing in Australia. The other night Michaela and I found ourselves behind the bar whilst the State of Origin game was on pouring schooners for $2 each laughing our heads off at how this had ended up being our lives. It was even funnier later in the night when two of the guys decided to strip down to their underwear…I’ll spare you the photos of that though!
It really is the people around here that are making the experience what it is. The people here are great – a bit zany, very funny, incredibly kind and generous, and the most loyal I have ever come across. A lot are born and bred from around here, and as a result everyone knows each other. There was a funeral last Wednesday and I have never seen a procession as long as this one, the whole town pretty much shut down for the day because everyone was wanted to pay their respects. It really feels like a proper community and one that they have welcomed me into with open arms. I can’t quite get my head around how happy I am to be here.