To give you a rough idea the small town of Yuleba consists of a pub, a roadhouse and a few residential houses along the motorway. About 200 people live there, 5 hours away from Brisbane by car, close to a town called Roma. I arrived in Yuleba right at the beginning of the summer in October, it was already more than 30 degrees every day and the heat was overwhelming.
Eureka Roadhouse in Yuleba
Pammy, the owner of the roadhouse was a very imposing woman who was about as tall as me and 5 times bigger than me. She was the boss and she made sure that I understood it:
“No one steals from me, no one lies to me and if you have something to say you come to tell me and no one else. Now you go and shave!”
"You go and shave!"
That's pretty much how she introduced herself as I was standing in her office a few minutes after I arrived in Yuleba. My bedroom was right behind the roadhouse, a small and basic room with a bed, a wardrobe and a TV. I was the only backpacker who was working in this patrol station. Only two local girls living in the area worked for the boss, an older couple and Doris, the boss' associate and the most unpleasant woman I have ever met. The work consisted of a variety of tasks such as stocking, serving, helping preparing meals – mostly burgers. I was starting either really early in the morning – 5 o'clock! - or at twelve.
Inside the guesthouse
I was working between 45 and 50 hours a week but I didn't mind it as it allowed me to save money faster. I was payed 17 dollars (roughly £10) per hour, cash in hand – the boss was deducting 80 bucks (about £45) every week from my pay for food and accommodation – so I easily managed to save more than 2000 dollars (£1160) in three weeks! A perfect place to save money! But I had to deal with those agressive and nasty people. I was quite motivated when I arrived but my good mood and motivation faded very quickly. After three days of training, I was not allowed to make mistakes anymore. The boss' random bursts of rage were unpredictable and it was better not to be on her way when she was suddenly getting really angry for no apparent reasons. Everyone was scared of her and there was a permanent tension in this roadhouse from hell . The way she was talking to her employees was just unacceptable. I should have resigned and left straight away but at this time I really wanted to hold on and keep going for a while to save up some money. I'm not quite sure why but Doris absolutely hated me and I'm convinced that she was doing everything she possibly could to make me lose it.
One day I asked her if she wanted me to cut some tomatoes, she replied to me very sharply:
“No it's all right I'll do otherwise it will be done like shit and I don't want to have Pammy on my back for the rest of the day!”
Another time she came to see me with a big smile on her face: “Oh Morgan, I have a good job for you! I've just dropped 50 cents in the bin, can you find it?!”
I'm smiling as I'm writing this but at the time I felt really humiliated. I've probably never been put down so much in my entire life. Even a dog would have been treated better than me! Welcome to Australia!
Another time she put a sandwich in the toaster. After a few minutes I took the initiative to remove it. She came screaming at me, breaking down each word:
And you know what I'm sure that if I had not removed the sandwich from this bloody toaster she would have blamed me for having left it there! Again, I should have packed my stuff and politely told them to shove off instead of taking all that crap!
Chasing the sunset every evening
As soon as I was finishing work I was running away from this horrible place to watch the incredible sunsets and look for kangaroos that all come together in the evening. I'm pretty sure that most backpackers who go around Australia remember the first time they've encountered a wild kangaroo. For me it was a morning in Yuleba before going to work and even after that moment I kept being amazed each time that I was seeing one.
Some wild kangaroos hiding in the fields
Finally 3 weeks after my arrival, I got fired because of a piece of meat that I had not properly put in the freezer!
This first working experience in Australia was so difficult and really disappointing. I had been told so many good things about this country. So many times I had been told about the Australians' kindness and open-mindedness. My foot! I wasn't expecting living such a bad experience especially after having travelled for 8 months in the US, South America and New Zealand where I had always been amazed by the kindness and the generosity of the people I had met. I was so disillusioned, what a poke in the eye! This was not the Australia I had come to visit. Unfortunately, even though I met some incredible people later on during the rest of my journey in Australia, racism, people's hostility and lack of education were very recurrent – especially in rural Queensland.
Another spectacular sunset after a rain shower