As part of our ultimate goal of having enough money in our bank accounts to return home, our plan for Australia includes finding several weeks of gainful employment. It’s part of the reason we came to this part of the world in the first place— Australia and New Zealand are some of the few countries that grant one-year working visas to Americans. Nine months ago, we applied for Working Holiday Visas online, and it seemed like an excellent way to extend our budget and our travels.
Nine months later, in the midst of a cool, cloudy week in Victoria, the idea of working for the first time in more than four months was less appealing. Still, we took advantage of Australia’s amazing National Harvest Guide and found the nearest town with ripened fruit. A few phone calls and a drop by the employment office later, we had signed up to harvest apples for a few days in Cobram. It is a very small town on Victoria’s northern border where not much happens and, incidentally, there is little else to do but pick apples. Perfect.
As far as monotonous manual labor goes, it was a remarkably pleasant way to earn some cash. We showed up at 8 in the morning, slung a picking basket around our shoulders, and got to work. The apples were cold from the night’s chill and dripping with dew, but the broken morning sun soon warmed them, along with our fingers. We filled enormous wooden crates— worth $35 each— with crisp, tart Pink Lady apples as fast as possible. Before long, we could swiftly pluck two apples per hand and fill a crate an hour with ease.
Each night, backs and fingers sore from the day’s work, we’d return to our campsite and reward our efforts with tasty food and a $3 wine called Bowler’s Run, surprisingly good for the price. After two and a half days, we’d filled nine crates, and snagged more than a few tasty apples as bonuses for ourselves. Not bad for our first return venture into the working world. It felt good to be a contributing member of society again, and we look forward to mastering the harvesting methods of other crops.
Once the last of the fruit had been picked, we headed back south towards the ocean and soon merged with the Great Alpine Drive, another of Australia’s scenic roads. After watching the sun rise over a fog-filled valley, we entered Alpine National Park, home to some of the country’s tallest mountains. As the road ascended into the Australian Alps (nice, though not nearly as impressive as the European or Japanese versions), a few inches of snow materialized on the ground.
Near the top of the pass, a trail snakes off the road along The Razorback, a long, undulating ridge headed for the distant Mount Feathertop, 11 kilometers away. Though the trail was covered in snow, the sun shone down in a clear sky, and soon we were hiking in our t-shirts. The open ridgeline provided extensive views of blue rolling mountains as the trail wound its way past alpine heath and snow gum skeletons, leftover from fires years ago.
It was an ideal way to spend a sunny day, and an excellent warm-up for our next adventure: a four-day backpacking trip along the Wilderness Coast in Croajinglong National Park.