A week ago we started working at a hotel in Western Australia in the middle of nowhere. We will stay here for a few months to save up more money and use it to travel further in Australia and eventually to go to Asia. We will keep you updated on our experiences here through our personal blog.
The Outback – Kimberley Region
To get in the middle of nowhere, we had to drive through the outback for one week. First, I actually thought the outback was in a certain location – somewhere in the middle of Australia. But actually, there isn’t a precise location. The term outback is used to refer to the remoteness, emptiness and huge distances of the inland. According to Outback Australia Travel Secrets the outback is about 6.5 million square kilometers and inhabited by less than 60,000 people. In the outback you have The Red Centre, The Deserts, and The Top End. The Top End is located up north in Australia, where the climate is characterized with the wet-dry tropical seasons. Here you also have the Kimberley Region, which by some is called the “the Outback of the Australian Outback”, because it’s so remote. And we are somewhere in that region at the moment.
When we told locals from Australia we were going to Western Australia (WA), they told us that we are crazy, as they can’t even handle the extreme heat in WA at the moment. And we were going to drive through WA for a week? We eventually did handle the heat during the drive, but only after putting a cool box with ice and bottles of water next to our seats. The first day driving I immediately got a cold sore on my upper lip, probably because of the intense heat – ironically, because it’s called a cold sore. Our air-conditioning in our car even just gave up. Suddenly something was leaking underneath our car and a nice Australian bloke at a gas station told us that it’s too hot for our air-conditioning. Too hot for our air-conditioning? That’s what it’s for isn’t it; to keep us cool from the heat? So we drove on with the air-conditioning on, ignoring the leaking, and eventually our car just turned off while we were going 110 km per hour. The plus side of being in the middle of nowhere is that in that kind of situation you don’t easily bump into another car. So we just stopped aside the road and luckily after a few tries our car managed to start going again. This time we did turn off the air-conditioning.
Six days we drove through nothing, always happy when we saw a gas station, and each night we stopped at a little town for a good night’s rest. We could’ve slept in our car, but after driving 6-8 hours each day in the heat, you really want a nice bed and an air-conditioning that actually works. The places we slept in (motels, hotels, hostels) were all pretty decent. Just one hostel was awful. We didn’t even shower there, as there was mold all over the place. The toilets had spiders everywhere. One spider was right above the toilet and I’m almost sure it was a poisonous spider (always just assume it’s poisonous in Australia).
Working in the outback
Our first week at our new job is just over and until now it seems to be mostly hard work. Until now I’ve worked as a bartender and in the beginning I was the worst. Jeffrey had to do housekeeping the first two days, but he eventually started at the bar as well, and seems to be more talented. I couldn’t even tap a normal beer, didn’t know the meaning of “pint” (the biggest beer glass), “schooner” (a medium size beer glass), and “middy” (the smallest beer glass). Also, Australia has a lot of drinks/beers that both Jeffrey and me never heard off. But, after 5 days of working behind the bar we keep getting better and better.
What is very interesting here is that there are actually two bars; a sports bar and a saloon bar. The saloon bar is only opened from 12pm to 3 pm, and only Aboriginal people come there. They seem to do nothing but drink all day, and try to get as much beers as they possibly can. When looking it up online, I found that Aboriginals do suffer higher rates of substance abuse, domestic violence and unemployments than other Australians, and also have a 17-year gap in life expectancy. Often they don’t have enough money to buy a beer, because they already spent everything on… well, beer. They also try to steal each other’s beer, and borrow money from each other without intending to give it back. It feels rather bad to be the one to provide them with the alcohol. Of course once they are drunk you have to deny them any beer, which seems to be their worst nightmare.
Luckily I’m getting into a certain automatic pilot behind the sports bar and sometimes even already know what the regular customers want. But, still not everything is going very smooth. Last night I was cleaning some glasses behind the bar and a guy was calling my name to order something. But I just didn’t hear him; only after he raised his voice I looked up and walked up to him. “Your name is Liz-Ann, right?” And he pointed to my nametag. I smiled and said, “yes, but actually it’s a Dutch name, so it’s pronounced differently. So I didn’t hear you there, sorry.” He smiled as well and asked me how it is pronounced, so next time I do hear him. “It’s Lees-an-ne.”
“Lasanja,” the guy tried. I smiled again and told him he can call me Lisa.
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