May 2015

As I still want to have some kind of diary here – for me and anybody who is interested – I post monthly updates of what we did (including pictures), what we are up to and what our future plans are. Ideally that will also show a bit how much our plans change and how our progress and planning goes for the near future. You can find all entries until now here and for a bit more frequent reports you can head over to Agnès Blog or her short updates.

What we did

18-P1080840The first two weeks we stayed on Farewell and helped a bit with the sheep work, which involved mustering the sheep, drafting them and then marking nearly 1000 lambs (lifting each in a cradle, giving them an earmark and tag, cutting their horns and castrating the rams). During that time we also adopted a little lamb that lost its mother; like a human baby it had to be fed regularly and it demanded somebody to pay attention to him.
We decided to leave in the middle of May as we found an opportunity to work on another cattle station, west of Rockhampton; the idea was to see a different kind of landscape and how other people manage a property. At “Mimosa Park” one of several properties that belonged to the family of Alicia and John, we mainly helped with the cattle work, entertained the two little girls and did a bit of gardening. The whole setup of the properties was pretty different to Farewell so while we knew already quite a bit, there was a lot more that we haven’t seen or heard of before. We weighed hundreds of cows to decide which ones should be sold, we helped drafting the cattle to spay (sterilise) some of the cows and we helped to muster a bit.
John seemed quite happy with the skills that we had learned on Farewell, so before we left we replaced him when his Dad and brother in law wanted to draft 600 cows.

cattle drafting

cattle drafting

After 10 days we left to go to Brisbane to catch up with a few more people and to organise ourselves before going back to New Zealand. For one weekend we stayed at one of the host families that hosted me 4 years ago and then moved to a hostel in the centre of Brisbane.
Before we left we also caught up with Steve and Garrett who hosted me for a couple of months.
Now we are back in New Zealand, trying to find a job and settle a bit.

What we plan to do

For now the plan is to go back to Warkworth to stay and work in the lodge where we already stayed in December. From there we will apply for jobs and see what will happen. We might have a look for another HelpX place (most likely on a sheep property) for a bit of a change in case we don’t find anything in the next couple of weeks.

Problems

Stauder and Erna

Stauder and Erna

As I explained last months, I managed to break the only Stauder bottle that I had in Australia. Thanks to Radio Essen, that problem was solved when I arrived in Brisbane. As they asked me in the interview, they send a red rubber duck to Australia and luckily enough they hadn’t send the package when I broke my bottle so they were generous enough to include a new one as well. Thanks again for that!

Most of the problems I had this time were somehow related to my NZ visa. While staying on Farewell we had limited or no internet which made it a bit complicated to apply for a visa online. I eventually got my visa a couple of weeks before our departure, however 2 days before the flight I saw that, for whatever reason, the visa was registered under my old passport number and not the number of my new passport. After a short discussion via email, immigration NZ told me that they would change the passport number, however that would take a couple of days to go through all their systems. Great!
At the airport the check-in didn’t work because I tried to leave the country with a different passport than the one I used for entering it (they couldn’t find the new one in the system – of course). The supervisor who checked me in because the “normal” staff wasn’t allowed to, solved that problem fairly quickly. He then called immigration NZ to enquire about my visa status, which left me a little bit nervous in front of the counter. Luckily they seemed to be aware of the problem and I was allowed to board the plane. So far so good!
At the immigration counter in NZ I was told to wait while one of the officers left with both my passports. After waiting 10min or so I was told that everything is fine and I could enter the country with my intended visa.
It was kind of impressive to see the flexibility they handled all these issues, considering that there is probably a huge bureaucratic body behind all of this. Even more impressive was that it took us less than 30min from leaving the plane to standing outside of the airport (compared to more than 2hrs when we arrived the first time).

What I learned

  • A different perspective on life on a station
  • What other jobs need to be done on stations
  • A lot about different cattle yard layouts
  • How to light a bush fire

To Do List

  • Get a new passport
  • Get a long-term visa for NZ
  • Catch fish for dinner on my own
  • Get a job in New Zealand
  • Arrive in Brisbane
  • Fly to New Zealand
  • Apply for jobs

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