Mildura by the way could be also be referred to as hell.
For most of my time in Australia I have spent countless hours having a conversation with myself about how to tackle Australia. What a beast it is. I knew I wanted to see Darwin, was vaguely interested in Perth and definitely wanted to spend a fair time in Sydney. As it were I became hooked on Melbourne – before Melbourne started to ravage me. I was poor, becoming poorer in fact before I even knew it and knew some farm work could be the break I needed to work out the next move.
So I went to Mildura. With my bitch of a suitcase for company I realised I was going to a rural city. Everything was going get smaller, from the people’s minds to the lack of places to visit… but at least I would be with my fellow backpackers. For better or worse, I had yet to work out. Anyway I got to Mildura and had a variety of odd, depressing conversations with the backpackers from the outset. Downing cheap goon (‘wine’ made with a mixture of fish, wine and rotting grapes) they told me to leave almost immediately. This naturally frustrated me because I had literally just got there and the outlook couldn’t be more depressing. The rent, they informed me, was just about managable from working at the place for three days a week, meaning they were getting violently underpaid. An example – one person was earning $10 an hour and paying at least $4 on transport to get to the farm… others managed to earn $22 for six hours work, lower than the hourly wage I’ve been offered for a job in Melbourne. What stuns me is that several people have been here for up to four months. I’ve spent four days here and have managed to crawl the walls more times the flies hovering around the kitchen. If there wasn’t a library here I could see myself ploughing head first in to the Murray river.
In desperation, as I wasn’t working and was stuck in Mildura, one day I resorted to accidentally engaging myself in a 8km walk to a gem shop – which I had heard was both tacky and brilliant. It was tacky but certainly wasn’t worth a ninety minute walk along dusty motorways. The place was dubbed Aladdin’s Cave because it had the private collection of the family’s who owned the joint. It also had a ceiling of fake stalagmites to give the feeling you were in a vault followed by several stands full of amber, tiger eye, amethyst, cubic zirconia and other vaguely expensive stones. I didn’t really know if I were expecting Snow White exactly, but I would have enjoyed the idea of seven small men (very possible in a place like Mildura) to show me around. Perhaps that is why the walk didn’t quite live up to expectation.
And I write this on Monday, having slowly managed to lose my sanity. Mildura is surprisingly a dangerous place (maybe because there is nothing to do here expect engage in criminal activity) so at nights you are literally trapped in your dorm room, unless you go with others to the outrageously awful nightclubs that seem to have ‘Oooh I heard you were a wild one’ on repeat. The backpacker trap has never been so tragic. I’ll keep you posted.
Update: On the evening I wrote this, a man high on ice begun to attack people with a sharp butchers knife because he thought someone had stolen his (used) shoes: Mildura – what a city! Conversations have continued along the same vein, although I’ve heard some particularly entertaining stories recently alievating the boredom. One girl was almost tearful because she was told she was terrible at picking grapes, only to be told later on she was also terrible at taking the leaves off the grapes. I also heard of the girl who was so desperate for attention here that she faked a seizure on the night of the sandstorm pictured above, and once unzipped her top only then to say ‘oops, how did that happen.’ The need for entertainment, as you probably guess in Mildura is a continuing issue. Just this morning I watched a variety of lads engage in drag for no apparent reason at midday. This was also on the ANZAC day honouring war heroes, and was thus deemed wildly inappropriate by the locals.
Realising I needed to leave the hostel immediately I went on the famous Paddle Steamer boat, which is based on the mighty Murray river. It was two hours, which should have been a little bit more exciting… I ended up reading my book. Mildura for the 22 year old crowd doesn’t exist. It goes from about 6 to 66 with no room for vaguely stimulated people in the middle.
And so I left, with joy and happiness in my very being to leave the place. To add to my excitement at taking the last coach out of Mildura, I was treated to reviews like this, from Tripadvisor:
I have never written a review for any hotel/hostel I have stayed in previously however good or bad but I feel that the severity of the way this hostel treats its occupants, warrants a warning to anyone thinking of staying here. DON’T!
The saga begins before you even arrive. We phoned the hostel to inquire about the likely hood of a room but more importantly work. We spoke to a lovely lady called Eve who informed us there would be 3 spaces available and that work would take around 2/3 days to find and would entail either picking grapes or watermelons consistently for 3/4 months.
This turned out to be a complete lie and we waited for 2 weeks before any form of work was available, never even seeing anyone called Eve or hearing of a water melon crop in the area. No staff of any importance were available throughout the day to request further information about work. You had to wait until 4 o’clock to crowd around them and beg for work along with another 50 backpackers in the same situation. The 2 gentlemen available to speak to were Vince and Frankie, unfortunately 2 of the rudest most unhelpful almost cretinous humans I have ever met. It seems every week they would promise that the grape season would start the week after effectively encouraging people to stay for an extra week EXTORTING another $150 from them. I appreciate that they are not in control of the seasons but apparently this happened 5 weeks previous to our stay and continued once we left.
When work was available it was on a pepper farm and lasted 4 hours for one day only; know one minds working hard to earn money but at $20 a box, with a box taking around 1 hour for 3 people to fill there was zero scope to earn any money let alone enough to live. The gentleman who owned the farm was called Nittan (using the term “gentleman” extremely loosely). He never paid anyone for the work they completed on time if at all; as he kept no records of who worked and when; using the excuse of you were never here to not pay you! One of the guys managed to do a weeks work for him and is still owed around $500 to this day.
There is work available in the area of Mildura at other more legitimate hostels some even having more work than they have residents in their hostels, even when at capacity! The only reason I can assume this hostel is incapable of getting work for residentS is that with they’re holier-than-thou attitudes they loose contracts with farmers very easily. In response to the garlic work comment below, i asked about this work and the contract has now been lost. Surprise surprise!
We left after foolishly staying longer than a week, the hostel had they’re $300 rent and were more than happy for us to leave; along with the 25 others that saw the light that day. They are fully aware that however many people leave they will be able to replace immediately with a new batch of positive hard working back packers looking for money and/or their 2nd year visa.
I could continue to discuss stories of our stay here but i would smash up my laptop in anger at the memories.
Do not stay here, you will not work, you will not have a good time and you most definitely will be wasting your money!!!! You have been warned!
If I had a dollar for everytime I was told I would be given a worthwhile job – on grapes, garlic or watermelons – I would be a very rich pomme.
We rang quite a few hostels in Midura and only Oasis promised us work on either the grapes, garlic or watermelons, which seemed great. Every other hostel asked us to phone back in a few weeks when they would have work for us. When we arrived their lies began to unravel. On the phone they stated that they needed lads to work on the watermelons, as it was a too demanding job for girls, however we were told later that they could not remember saying this. We had heard off other people at the hostel that there were pepper jobs going and told not to do it, but we were so bored with not working that we thought we would give it a try. It isn’t the most demanding work, although the pay is shocking and the contractor probably will not pay you for weeks – unless you threaten him. As for the garlic picking and packing we were informed by one of the owners that this contract had been lost – tbh if I was a farmer I wouldn’t want to deal with these cowboys. To top this off we rang other farms and hostels who said they had loads of works, the only stipulation was that we would have to move from Oasis as they “do not like dealing with them” – so there are jobs around.
The hostel itself was actually ok – however, the hobs, pool table, x-box and air conditioning were broke. There was a pool which is decent, not very big though. The place had potential as there were a lot of nice backpackers staying there but a lot – including us – were leaving due to lack of work. The owners and staff are pretty offensive and do not value you at all. The only real ways to get a job here is if the grape harvest is so busy the farmers have to use Oasis, be in the right place at the right time (what happened to the waiting list and people getting jobs in the order of when they arrived), or to pester Vince and Frankie until they either get aggressive with you or cave in. It’s pretty laughable also that the office is only open when the rent is due and they actually gave me a job picking peppers (because no one wants it) the day before my rent was due to give me false hope that I would be earning money – JOKE!
…and that’s Mildura for you!