Backpacker Report - West Australia Nov 95 to Jan 1996

Hi this is Stewart Green (stewart@ftech.co.uk) I've just been on a working holiday of WA and I thought you guys might like some feedback.

Work

Most people said the CES were pretty useless and uninformed about the availability of work.
There seem to be a lot of people looking for work in Perth so casual work appears to be much easier to come by in the countryside where there is plenty of manual agricultural work. There is work on the fruit farms in Donnybrook and Manjimup (in fact there are two hostels in Donnybrook and the farmers usually phone the hostel owners when they need workers so most people didn't have to wait more than a couple of days before working). The farmer I worked for claimed that there was an unofficial deal with the tax office regarding farm work in that you coulee tick the box marked resident on the tax form and therefore be taxed at 15 % (instead of 29%) and providing everything else was in order the tax office wouldturn a blind eye.

In January worked in Manjimup. There are two backpackers there one at the caravan pa rk which is only $12 a night, but a bit scruffy and you get no help finding work (though when it was busy the farmers collect workers every morning). The other backpackers Tobacco Park is better even though it's 10 Km out of town. It's like a hostel cum employment agency. They arrange work with farmers each day, wake up the backpackers and deliver them to the different farmers. It costss $13 a day if you work and $11 if there isn't any for you. (I had work every day) The owners really look after you. Work varies from cauliflower cutting, apple thinning and various planting , pruning and picking jobs; so there's work most of the time.

The other main area of work appeared to be in the wheatbelt during the harvest season (Mid Nov - Jan). The main job appeared to be working in small groups to drag tarpaulins over the top of stacks or railway trucks full of grain. met people earning serious money 7 days a week at $120 a day.

The owner of the Albany backpackers received a lot of stick for sending out posters proclaiming that work was guaranteed there. When I dropped in the only work available was badly paid strawberry picking and there was a list of 15 people who had been waiting days for work.

Hitching

This was pretty good especially in the South West of the state where a lot of hippies seemed to have moved to.

Hostels

PERTH There are now over 30 backpackers hostels in Perth filled with a variety of people though there appears to be a majority of British young males in search of work (and booze). So most of the hostels appear to be jam packed most of the time and work is not easy to find.

Most of the hostels are pretty rough but some of the best I've stayed at are
The White Lodge $11 a night friendly, cleanish and not too crowded.
Hay St Backpackers $15 new clean and with a pool.

CountrysideAgain in the main tourist areas where everyone goes to since there was a limited choice of hostels most were busy all of the time (Margaret River and Albany). Other people said they preferred the campsites and I found a much better atmosphere in the smaller town hostels.
Bunbury The Wander Inn $11 was busy but still adequate especially enhanced by Gordon the owners good value tours he runs a free tour every morning around the town and to the Dolphin Centre. Donnybrook- both were definitely workers hostels and pretty adequate.
Margaret River- Thereís only one hostel which could be good but because of the number of people it has the same factory atmosphere of the hostels in Perth.
Nannup- I found this great hostel in an old logger's cabin called the Black Cockatoo $12. A great atmosphere and setting as well as a permaculture garden with Leonard the sheep. (worth keeping a secret) a lot of the books appear to have the wrong address and phone numbers ( in particular the YHA guide has the address of the hotel next door)
Dingo Flats - apparently this hostel is pretty similar in atmosphere to Nannupís.
Denmark - I met a lot of people who complained about the youth hostel being pretty ropey. I found that the Edinburgh House ($15 for a room if you have a lonely planet guide book , though his wife wants to put the price up) in the centre of town pretty good.
Albany- The YHA $12 is pretty good. It has a very friendly manager who put's on free BBQ's and videos and organises tours. The Albany Backpackers $13 is pretty adequate but must get a blackmark for lying about the availability of work. (They put out flyers saying work guaranteed ! when of course there wasn't much
Bridgetown , York these hostels have closed down, though there is other accommodation available.
Mundaring WeirIt's surprising that this hostel only 30 KM from the centre of Perth doesn't get many backpackers. It's a pleasant enough country break from, the city though a little isolated.

Copyright Stewart Green 1996
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