You may have noticed a lack of posts over the past few weeks, which has mainly been due to lack of Wi-Fi and terrible phone signal where we are at the moment. Where is that, you ask? Kununurra, Western Australia.
Way up towards the top of Australia – 3319 km from Perth, which took us just over 2 weeks to drive. I’ll do another post with our adventures of the West coast, but for this one I thought I would update you with what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks.
Whilst we were in Perth in April, we were very lucky to apply for and be offered long term jobs at Acadia Farm, which is about 14 km outside of Kununurra. I applied for a job as a nanny / farmhand, looking after 2 little girls (2 and 3) and helping out around the house and yard, and Rich was offered the role of Pack Shed Coordinator. I am usually in the house with the girls, and he is based in the pack shed at the farm where he organises and sorts out the various fruits that are coming in from the fields. Acadia produces mostly watermelons, but they also grow pumpkins, squash, honeydew, and cantaloupe (or rock melon, as it’s called here). We were asked to start on the 30th of April, so we packed up car with camping gear and took a road trip north.
Kununurra is a fairly small town with only about 5000 people living here. It’s very dry and sandy; however, it’s very close to Lake Argyle which provides the area with water and irrigation, and there are a lot of farms surrounding it. Because of how far north Kununurra is, they don’t get the traditional Australian Summer and Winter seasons, and instead have a dry and wet season. From roughly April to October (winter) is the dry season and the rest of the year is the wet season. Because of this, the town is flooded with backpackers in the dry season hoping to get farm work, so it can get pretty lively at times. Although the locals would argue that the dry season is cold, it’s usually averaging between 33-36 degrees daily, and we’re lucky if it drops to 18 degrees at night. We’ve been told that during the wet season it averages around 43-46 degrees daily, with about 80% humidity, so I’m feeling alright about only being here until October and missing that!
When we arrived, we spent the first 4 weeks at one of the hostels in town before moving into a rented place with another couple we met in Perth, who are also up here working on a farm. It was so nice to move out of the hostel and into our own space, with a working kitchen and no one to share a bathroom with! As we have all agreed to complete the season, we’ll be here until the end of October, so it made sense to save money and our sanity by renting our own place together.
For the most part, both Rich and I have been working 5 days a week; however, there have been some 6 day weeks when it’s busier. As we get further into the picking season, it will stay busy, and we’re expecting July and August to be pretty full on, with some long 6 day weeks more often than not. We’re both enjoying what we’re doing, as I get to look after 2 gorgeous little girls and have fun all day whilst Rich gets to play with watermelons on the forklift and tractor in the shed. Much better than being out in the fields in the sun picking watermelons all day, that’s for sure! We usually start at 6 am, and are finished between 3 and 4pm, which gives us time to still do things in the evenings; although, getting up at 4:30am does mean early to bed for us!
The area that Kununurra is located in is called the Kimberly Region, and there are some pretty cool things to do around here. A week after we arrived, the Kununurra Rodeo took place, which draws people from all over the region. It went quite the Calgary Stampede, but it was still a good night and a lot of fun.
Due to the geography of the region, Kununurra is surrounded by a number of tall, rocky hills, and there a few you can climb up. One of the best lookout spots is from one of these which is called Kelly’s Knob (don’t know why) and we took some cheese and wine one weekend and climbed up to watch the sunset. It’s not terribly big, and only takes about 12 minutes to walk to the top, but it’s pretty steep and there are some great views of the area once you reach the top.
I mentioned before about Lake Argyle, which takes about an hour from town to get to. It’s the biggest manmade lake in the southern hemisphere, and it was dammed in the 70s to provide water and irrigation for the surroundimg farm land. Lake Argyle is approximately 703 km2 and most of it is accessible only by boat. There is a resort and campground on the north end of the Lake, and we went for a night of camping with our roommates over a long weekend in early June. We hiked a (very small) portion around the Lake, relaxed in the infinity pool, and spent an evening eating and playing card games which was incredibly fun. It’s so close, and we’d like to go back again to do some sort of boat trip around the Lake, but we’ve got plenty of time for that before we head off in October.
We had a slight change of plans by agreeing to work until October, rather then leaving farm work at the end of August as originally intended, but we decided that, as we like the jobs and we have the time, we’d farm until then before moving on. When else will we get an experience like this? Although the work isnt easy, we’re having fun and meeting lots of new people, and it’s been nice to break up the travelling a little bit by staying in only place slightly longer. The paychecks are a nice bonus too!