Darwin - reunion with friends and working on a mango farm

Sunday October 4th 2009 - Tuesday October 27th 2009

Our time in Darwin was spent reuniting with old friends from our Melbourne hostel. Apparently most people that come to Darwin stay in the same hostel - Frogshollow Backpackers - so every morning you see lots of familiar faces that you didn't think you'd see again. Darwin tends to be the last stop for a lot of people before they fly home so we spent time reuniting and then saying good-bye again as everyone from our road trip and other friends flew back home since their visas were up. Kelsey went off to Asia for some travelling and meeting up with her friend, Ciaran flew back home to Ireland to prepare for his PHD starting in November and the only ones left from our road trip were Steve, Tyler and myself. Steve is still trying to sell the car, but is living and working in Darwin in the meantime to save some money before leaving Australia and doing a bit of travelling before going home.

We did a lot of job hunting only to find that the agency that works for the Harvest Trail doesn't actually get a lot of business and they were telling us that the mango season hadn't started yet, but we knew it started weeks ago. Not many people in the area go through the agency. We spent a lot of time in the water since it's so hot in Darwin, and a lot of time in the air conditioned library looking for jobs and phone numbers to contact for farm jobs. Very frustrating! In the end we got a phone number from a French girl in our hostel who got another job while she was laid off from her mango farm for 2 weeks and now they had called her back to work so she was trying to find replacements.

Enter me and Tyler. We called the farm the next day and they wanted us to start immediately. Luckily we had Steve to drive us to Humpty Doo (a nearby little town) and we got a little lost but managed to find the plot of land that was our mango farm. It was run by a Chinese couple (Mr and Mrs Siah) and they showcased the free accomodation in little bunkers that had air conditioning. We were so happy! We had a crash course in mango packing and were just left to work things out ourselves and get to work with a team of 4 other workers. Some days the machine would be at maximum speed and the bins would be close to overflowing, but Mrs Siah liked to work us hard and we did pick up the pace. It was good work, we probably ate our weight in mangoes and papayas (so delicious) and we had tons of hours (we worked 86 hours in 7 days). The work was hard and we were sore every night - very stiff fingers and thumbs from making boxes and sore backs from lifting for 12-13 hours a day. Everything was going great, we even got a day off after working for 14 days.

Then there was an overflooding of the mango market as all the crates of mangoes got shipped on the same day from all the farms in the area and there weren't enough places to buy them. About 60 skids arrived in Melbourne at the same time - too many! We were let go from the job since they weren't making enough money from selling the mangoes so we were dropped off in Darwin and set about on the job hunt again. We are not happy campers.

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