When I agreed to drive the one thousand miles from Mooloolaba to Dubbo I was only interested in one thing – the promise of regional work to qualify for my second year working holiday visa.
The drive down was amazing – so many great landscapes and views. One stretch was like Kangaroo city and I had never experienced having to dodge such an unintelligent species of animal. It almost felt as if they were playing kamikaze games with our vehicles as ‘Roo’ after ‘Roo’ bounced across our path and in our direction. So many times I swerved and narrowly missed them – I was very lucky as I had no bull-bars or impact protection on my old Ford Fairmont.
When we arrived in Dubbo I was very tired and we went for a “$10 dollar feed” in the Amaroo which seems to be the entertainment epicentre of this backward town. After our meal we returned to the car where I found my first parking ticket displayed on the windscreen. $100 fine – Dubbo council. Not a good start I must say. I am still awaiting this to be re-processed and sent to my new address.
Throughout the four months I was in and around Dubbo, I stayed at ‘Mick’s place’ – an awesome farmhouse set down a 2km track near Orana Mall (the poor excuse for a metropolitan shopping centre) which was much cherished by the locals at weekends. Mick is a super friendly guy, famous throughout Dubbo as the ‘party taxi’ driver – ready to pick you up after your big night out at the Amaroo.
There were many travellers living at Mick’s place and I soon had a new circle of friends including Aussies, English, Germans and many more.
For all it’s inwardness, Dubbo was actually a place where you could pick up a lot of decent work if you knew how to speak to the right people the right way. I soon signed up with a couple of different agencies but the bulk of my work came from Skilled agency. A nationwide personnel specialist – these guys were very well organised and had a really great thing going.
I was in Dubbo for the regional work and I was getting decent hours doing qualifying jobs for my visa. At first this included working at Australian Pet brands making and packing dog food then picking and weeding canola and other crops as the harvest had slowly started to begin as we arrived.
I was guided by the three English guys I met on the Sunshine coast as they had been in Dubbo for the harvest the year before and knew exactly what was going down with each agency.
For anyone looking to not be exploited with shit pay or given false promises by the hordes of conmen farmers around Australia I highly recommend going to Dubbo and signing up with Skilled or RMS or any of the local agencies for work. If you are friendly, can communicate and work hard then this place will reward you.
The local hostel ‘The Kurranjong” also has double rooms for $120 a week and a great atmosphere. We spent alot of nights getting drunk here and making friends with the travellers that came through.
Dubbo itself is like the last chance saloon of the midwest. The last big town – if you venture any further west you are basically in the bush and start to have very limited options with food, water and fuel on your journeys out.
The beginnings of the town were built on the site of a gaol and the main historic draw of the town is now ‘The Old Town Gaol’. I did not visit it myself but I can certainly tell you that people in Dubbo are slightly feral and very different from the people in the big cities. You get this kind of small town arrogance / closed off mindsets. A lower intelligence and an underlying tone of desperateness and unfriendliness from some of the locals. With a high rate of unemployment for NSW there is also a lot of racial tension amongst some of the unemployed Aboriginal and Caucasian members of the community.
People in Dubbo drive recklessly; pulling out without given care or attention, drink driving swerving and boy racer types racing around the strip in the evenings.
There is a lot of bad fast-food here but nothing opens after 11.00pm and thereis not even a Seven Eleven anywhere to be found. They do however have a large zoo which my pals said was not as good as it should have been.
After a lull in work from the agency, I ventured down to Orange in search of mining shutdown work at the Cadia Mine. No sooner as I had started signing up for this and attending the inductions I got a call from the Dubbo Skilled office who offered me 5 weeks worth of full-time labouring work on the Wilpinjong Peabody mine site. I bought a cheap camper and moved from Dubbo further East to the Ulan area. I was still visiting my pals in Dubbo on weekends but spent December 2013 living in my Starwagon campervan at local campsites in Gulgong and Mudgee.
I appreciated Dubbo for its stark contrast to the bigger cities. Miles of farmland views and rich red soil is amazing, but venturing into town will prove frustrating to those who want their sushi with brown rice and soya latte with cinnamon . When I left, I was over the red dust being everywhere, I was over the flies that go for your eyes, I wanted more choice, more opportunity, more races of people. I needed the city.