Kelly Family – Nannies
Our first day in Perth we were lucky enough to land ourselves short-term live-in nannying positions with the Kelly family. Fortunately, the Kelly family were able to accommodate two people, one working as the nanny for wages and accommodation, whilst the other paid rent, or alternatively, both people split the nannying role and work for accommodation and food without wages. We opted for the latter, meaning we’d both have enough free time to get part time work at the local pub to fit around the children.
Oliver, 7, and Grace, 6, are hilarious and we became instantly attached to them, with us partaking in all manner of arts and crafts, dance performances, baking, computer games and gymnastics. In reality, it required a lot of energy and a lot of cunning. Grace loved arts and crafts, and we were constantly trying to come up with new ideas for her that wouldn’t destroy the house. Oliver was fairly self-sufficient, but trying to get him to take his maths problems seriously took military-type planning and attack. But the best thing of all was the affection; both loved hugs, climbing on us and whispering secrets to us. This was definitely the most rewarding of all our Australia work.
Then came the time for our regional work (to work towards our second year visas) and the new nanny arrived as we were bound for WA Sandalwood, Corrigin, WA. We were to work on the farm, for around 6 weeks, then return to the Kelly household as lodgers.
Wa Sandalwood – Kubota Drivers & Sprayers
Our new job as farm labourers required us to drive Kubotas (small tractor-type 4x4s) spraying weed killer between rows and rows (and rows) of sandalwood trees. We got what we were aiming for; we earned money, we worked towards our visas and we definitely got an Australian experience! The work rarely varied – we sprayed chemicals for up to 13 hours a day sometimes, and we started seeing rows of small trees in our sleep. Charlotte once awoke at 5am confused how we still had a full day of work ahead, having dreamt all night of driving her Kubota. We often power jetted utes, swept shed floors and demoulded the backpackers’ farm lodgings. However, outside of working hours, two days were rarely the same. We sheared a stray sheep, we caught yabbies in a dam, we barbecued kangaroo meat, we moonlighted as premium barley roguers and we played some serious table tennis. Not every second was fun, and we definitely had some days when we wondered why on earth we’d given up a warm house with phone signal and internet for living in a house half an hour from a shop and home to three hundred times as many flies as humans. However, the farm stands out as one the most challenging and interesting jobs we have ever done, and left us with many stories to tell.
Blue Cow Cheese Company – Warehouse Christmas Picker/Packers
Back living with the lovely family we nannied for, we were back on the job hunt and searching for something different to do. We saw an add that instantly appealed to us: packing orders for a luxury food company, Blue Cow Cheeses, leading up to Christmas. Discounted cheese and olives?! Yes please!
Ten hours a day we ignored the 35 degree heat outside and wrapped up warm in coats, scarves and gloves, and knuckled down in the chilled warehouse, and even sometimes the freezer. We worked as part of a team of ten to collect products from shelves, before boxing the orders from various WA restaurants, and printing delivery labels. It was repetitive and sometimes strenuous.
But our manager, Justine, often fed let us crackers and left over dips, whilst the other teams members kept our spirits up with stories and jokes. We were even invited to the the very fancy Christmas party (the unlimited alcohol had some outstanding effects on our co-workers….). We, of course, were angels.
The family we lived with throughout our time in Perth were so generous, very funny, accommodating and even allowed full use of a car to allow us to get to work. ‘Mummy’ Kelly took us out to the casino, and made us look like amateurs on the dance floor. ‘Daddy’ Dave was always full of helpful advice, and was invaluable during our campervan renovation project. It was a fantastic base whilst we tried to save more travels funds and will definitely keep in touch for life.
*If you’re a backpacker looking for work in Perth or WA, we strongly recommend a visit to The Job Shop, Northbridge. They were so helpful and got us both our regional work and Christmas role at Blue Cow.*
Charlotte & Sarah x