A Travellerspoint blog

Chloe's answering service

red pandas, wallabies and wombats oh my

sunny

Hello. You've reached Chloe's answering service. She is not available right now, as she got one-on-one time with a pair of red pandas the other day and hasn't snapped out of it yet.
Guys. I got to feed/pet/fawn over a pair of red pandas. My fave. And before you can ask yes they are in my bag ready to begin their life with me in the United States.
Jane and her family gave us gift certificates to visit Billabong, a zoo and wildlife park near here. It's small but they have a lot of talks you can go to and feedings and stuff to watch. Or in my case you might get the opportunity to feed them yourself---luckily early enough in the morning where there aren't a lot of guests to watch you squeal like a child when the red pandas start climbing out of the trees and heading for you and your plate of food.
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Aren't they the cutest?? Rato and Tito are sisters, normally Tito is the shy one but she must have been hungry because she came right down to me and Rato was coy for a while. They each have their preferences (both like grapes and avocado but Rato is the only one who eats the hardboiled eggs and Tito takes the apples. They both try to snatch the dried figs). Everything is dusted in protein powder as the girls have a sweet tooth and don't always get enough protein. Tito would take an apple chunk from me with her mouth but then hold it in her paw and munch off of it just like a human. Rato preferred to wolf hers down and stick her face in the tray for the next tidbit. If I held a piece of food over my shoulder, one of them would tentatively stand on me to reach it, leaving sticky fruit footprints on my shirt. I am never washing that shirt again.
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We also saw a few dozen koalas and finally got to pet one. They don't feel anything like what we thought. They always look so velvety so we thought their fur would be dense but super soft. We were right about the dense part but really their fur is coarser, more like wool. We also finally got to see a koala joey with her momma.
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Her name is Denise. I will assume she was named for a benefactor and her keepers aren't just terrible with baby names. A tiny koala named Denise?
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I also saw my first wombat, which looks like a giant guinea pig with the head of a chinchilla. They are about the size of a bulldog and a weird mix of ugly and cute. We made our way to the dingoes, meerkats, snow leopards, a giant croc named Shrek, tons of birds, etc etc, finally working up to the kangaroo/wallaby feeding. This is where Gina was in turn beside herself.
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They are in a big open paddock with double gates, so you can go in and walk among the several dozen roos and wallabies and feed them from little bags of food for sale at the entrance. Kangaroos are more of a solid dusty color, their ears are bigger and their faces more muleish. They are bigger overall and we found them to be slightly meaner---punching the little wallabies in the face to get them out of their way to get to our handfuls of food. But they were also less likely to get up from their naps in the first place, which gave the wallabies more of a feeding opportunity. All of them are soft--softer than koalas even.
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these are wallabies
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These are roos.
There was also an emu separated by a fence, and he was slightly terrifying. If you got too close he would make a dive for the food so we just threw some over the fence in the interest of keeping all ten fingers.
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About half of the wallabies seemed to be pregnant, their babies getting quite big by now for such small little mommas but still they managed to cram into those pouches.
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We spent hours feeding and petting them all before Adam picked us up. I felt a bit like I needed a shower, because the wallabies were neat eaters--holding your hand with their tiny paws and nibbling off of your palm--but the kangaroos slobbered all over you, drooling and licking your hand. Slobber or no slobber though it was still awesome.

Posted by Chloeah 19:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Art of Herakovic Cooking

winging recipes in kitchens across the globe

sunny

Welcome to the cooking edition of our blog. I talk about it enough, so I suddenly realized maybe I should post a few of the ones we have described (that I have access to). Cool right? Okay well I thought so.
The night before last, Gina and I were tasked with finding a purpose for a handful of rhubarb. Mom's rhubarb pie immediately came to mind. Catch? Adam and Jane are gluten and dairy free. And trying to watch their sugar as well. Plus we are way out in the country so no shopping for more ingredients, only what is already in the cupboard/fridge. Challenge accepted.
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Turned out quite lovely, right? And it was delicious. Tart filling with sweet merinque balanced by a salty crust. Plus it was super simple. Literally just something we whipped up. The best part though was that it didn't taste like sacrifices were made, as gluten-free items tend to do.
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Gluten Free Dairy Free Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Crust:
1c gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4c coconut oil
1/2 egg
Mix flour with sugar and salt. Cut in cold coconut oil. Add egg. Stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough forms. Roll out on parchment paper and flip onto pie plate, crimping edges. (We used an 8" cake pan, no harm no foul)

Filling:
I pint strawberries, hulled and cut into pieces
2c rhubarb, diced
3 TB maple syrup (optional, in the end it would have been fine without it)
starch (corn or potato)
1 - 2 tsp lemon juice
Simmer rhubarb in 1/4" water until a line drawn through it with a spoon is not immediately covered. Once this happens, add strawberries and maple syrup. Cook until reduced to an applesauce consistency. Add 1-2 tsp starch as needed if it's still not thick enough. Add 1 - 2 tsp lemon juice. Pour into crust. Preheat oven to 375 and bake 10 - 20 minutes until crust just begins to brown and filling is set.

Meringue:
3 egg whites
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 caster sugar (fine grain baking sugar)
Remove pie from oven and heap with all of the meringue. Use the back of a spoon to make peaks all over the top. Bake at 475 for 4 1/2min or until peaks are toasted.

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We cut corners by using frozen dough circles because it was last-minute, but hey they also save time. Prepare to make a lot of empanadas as one person usually eats several in a sitting. Amounts are all to taste and according to how many you want to make.
Mirjanovic Carne Empanadas
ground beef
onions (lots)
olives, chopped
hardboiled egg, chopped
scallions
salt, pepper, cumin
Saute onions and brown the ground beef. Add olives and eggs. Add salt, pepper and cumin to taste. Sprinkle mix with fresh scallions. With a dough circle about 5" in diameter in one hand, spoon 1 to 3 tablespoons of filling into the circle, Wet your finger and dampen the edge of half of the dough circle. Fold circle in half, completely encasing the meat filling, and fold over the edges again and pinch to seal. Alternately, you can also press with the tines of a fork. Bake at 375 until golden. Serve hot.

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Mirjanovic Humita Empanadas
onions, chopped
corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
scallions, chopped
flour
butter
milk
Make a bechamel sauce by melting butter in a pan and stirring in flour and milk. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Saute onions and cook with corn. Add bechamel sauce, top with scallions. Wrap in dough circles and bake the same as carne empanadas.

Steve's Birthday Carrot Cake
4 eggs
1 1/4c vegetable oil
2c white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3c grated carrots
1/2c butter, softened
any nuts or dried fruit according to your preference (I used walnuts, dark and light raisins, and a few dates)
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x13" pan. Beat together eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Incorporate into first mixture. Fold in carrots and nuts/dried fruit. Pour into pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out of pan and cooling on wire rack.
icing:
butter
milk
vanilla
powdered sugar
Melt butter in saucepan and add quite a bit of powdered sugar. Add a teaspoon or two of vanilla. Thin just a little bit with milk. Icing should be consistency of a light glaze. Pour over cake while warm.

If there is anyone out there who likes receiving recipes (as I do) please let me know, and I will do this again as the opportunity arises. <3

Posted by Chloeah 00:01 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Port Macquarie is for koalas

Koala hospital and wine tasting (but not at the same time)

sunny

Port's main tourist draw, apart from the beaches, is the koala hospital. It's a cute little thing, run solely on donations and volunteer work. Port has quite a high koala population in and around the city, and apparently the grumpy little fuzzballs meet with hard times quite often. People from the city and surrounding areas can call the hotline 24/7 and a volunteer will come and scoop up the koala and take it back to the hospital. Their #1 enemy is man but their most common cause of death is from bush fires. if a poor little koala can manage to avoid people and open flames, it can still be attacked by a dog, hit by a car, or even catch chlamydia from its little koala liaisons. Life is risky and full of hazards for the little guys.
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They keep a chart of all the patients and their ailments and treatments. There's lots of chlamydia, which can lead to blindness.
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These ladies are permanent residents because they lost their sight. The hospital also has a few other permanent residents who suffer from lost limbs, mental handicaps or just extreme old age. They have 200-300 koalas admitted every year, and they are very specific about releasing them back into their particular area once they are well again. There's just a few that are permanent guests.
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Like this one, she is doing okay at the hospital but wouldn't be able to climb a regular tree because she lost a leg, an eye and several claws. They have a guy who brings in fresh eucalyptus according to each bear's preferences every day, and some also get supplements fed to them with a syringe. It's all quite adorable, a little sad, and very admirable. It's a hospital, not a zoo, and the tour is free in the hopes that you will donate (how could you not).
We also saw the Roto House, which is a traditional Aussie house built in the 1890s. They are sprawling but one story, with a huge verandah and tall ceilings for the heat.
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We have been spending quite a bit of time with some of the other people from the hostel. Jalisa is from New Brunswick and is in our room because she's a worker too. There's also Adam and John from England, Tim from the Netherlands, and Oliver from Germany, plus other people who come and go for one or two nights. Adam pretty much lives here, Tim might start working here and John must just really like it because he keeps extending. Yesterday we went wine tasting out of town to Cassegrain winery, which wasn't bad.
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I was the only one who had been to a tasting before so the woman walked them through how to do it, then we went to the restaurant and ate cheese and charcuterie with a pretty hefty buzz. The brewery we went to next was a disappointment though. The Black Duck had one beer I quite liked (they call flights "paddles" here, probably because the tray looks like a paddle) but most of them were so/so. The highlight was the biggest Great Dane I had ever seen, named Murphy, whom Gina and Jalisa both wanted to steal. As if he would have fit in the car. D5378D2CE90F4305602626DD7B53E2DA.jpgD4828369A265E9E82B3348BF4D7300D0.jpgD4851C1BC2A4BCD5385FEE8D1A6A624A.jpg
She doesn't look ready to let go though does she?
When we aren't working at the hostel we go downtown or to the beach, or just hang out and play pool or watch movies with people. It's really rough 😉. We have continued to clean for Jane under the table but jobs pretty much just aren't going to happen in Port. So this afternoon we are moving in with Jane and Adam and we are trying to focus less on money and more on the experiences themselves.
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P.s. Here's a wallaby with a Joey in her pouch. In her freaking pouch. She was just casually hanging out in Jane's yard. IN HER FREAKING YARD.
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Posted by Chloeah 17:59 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Holeing up Beachside

Trying to appear like desirable employees in Port Macquarie

sunny

Hello strangers. Thank you for all of the expressed concern after the last post. It's lovely to know we have supporters!
So after all of that drama, we are now safely ensconced in Port Macquarie, on the east coast. It's as different from our last situation as it can be, in that people staying here don't want to leave and Nick is giving us a place to live in exchange for really very minimal work, instead of holding us against the wall like the last guy.
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Beachside Backpackers is a mid-size hostel on a residential street in Port Macquarie, 5 minutes walk from downtown and 5 minutes walk from the beach. Gina and I each work three mornings a week , 8-1, in exchange for accommodation. The morning shift is the cleaning shift, three bathrooms and the kitchen and making sure all the sheets are changed and everything is vacuumed, not hard. The hostel itself is quite bohemian and adorable
There is a pool table right as you walk in, and a surf board bench by the computers. Our room is sort of behind the kitchen. Standard hostel bedroom really, with bunks and stuff.
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This week we have focused pretty much exclusively on trying to find jobs (although I did visit some bars with some Germans, eek). In the afternoons we paper this town with our resume and fill out application after application online. It's not really doing much though. This is a smallish Australian town, without much call for backpacker work. Not much tourism, plus it's the off season. All of this spells disaster. We are supposed to be putting away money to continue our trip. Plus the locals are quite rude about it. Well some of them. When we ask about hiring they look down their noses or literally sniff at us. Nick as well as several other people from Beachside said it's almost impossible to get a job here if you are an outsider. Which totally sucks because we really like the town and the hostel and don't want to leave.
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I mean, it's right on the beach! Winter or no winter!
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Not all of the locals have sniffed at us though. We have been sent an angel named Jane. Nick gave me her number, saying she rang and asked if there were any backpackers that wanted a cleaning job for the day. UM YES. Us please. So Monday morning, Jane's brother Adam picked us up super early and drove us out to their house about 25 min from town. It's a sprawling, single story house with high ceilings and lots of windows. Jane lives in one half and Adam lives with his wife and two small children in the other. There's also two outdoor dogs, two cats, a mythical snake under the shed, and kangaroos and wallabies running wild all over the property. KANGAROOS GUYS. LIKE, BOUNCING ALL OVER THE PLACE. There were some in the side yard (near their laden orange trees, sigh) and we saw some out by the long driveway, as well as the two that scattered from the road as we left.
Adam's wife and two small kids are in England with his in-laws for a few weeks so we helped them do a huge spring cleaning. Jane's mother also came by, and was washing toys out on the lawn while we scrubbed baseboards and wiped down blinds inside. We did a lot of work but the day went by quite quickly really. Jane and her family are simply delightful, and wonderful to chat with. Both Jane and Adam work with people with disabilities, and Jane also works in the foster care system and Adam teaches drama and music workshops for people with developmental disabilities. See what I mean? Angels. Jane even baked a cake and frosted it before we got there at 8am. We had lunch on a table out on the lawn, there we could hear kookaburras "laughing" and if you don't know what this sounds like I suggest you google it because it is so unique. (Did anyone else have to sing that song in school? Because it has been stuck in my head for literally three weeks now). During lunch we told Jane and her mother about Mildura and they were disgusted. Jane has been helping us in many ways to find local odd jobs to tide us over, and gives us her input when we look at places online. And her mother was already on the phone with her council person, trying to bring down Mr. Mildura.
We've been adopted.
Jane even fixed us up with some mystery shopping gigs. We've walked to a few malls and secretly filled out questionnaires based on the mall's cleanliness, friendliness, etc. It's pretty simple and they're thirty bucks a pop, so not bad for two people who can't even get housekeeping jobs in this town. We are going back to the house tomorrow to try and help them out all of the furniture back now that the carpets have dried. Jane pays us but I would do it for free. They even gave us a gift certificate to the zoo! They are so nice, and, emotionally, we kind of needed to be taken under someone's wing at this point. Jane did a lot of traveling too so she knows what it is to try and make your way through the world. It means so much to us to have a sympathetic heart here, I just wish there was some way we could repay her kindness.
Fingers crossed guys, that we figure out this job situation. Because I will literally go home before I go back to Mildura.
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Posted by Chloeah 02:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The grape vines of wrath

Escaping Mildura with our dignity

semi-overcast

Okay so this time our digital absence was deliberate, and I'll get to why in a moment. Just know that we are okay now.
So the plan was to take a train and then a bus to Mildura, in the outback, towards the northern end of Victoria. We had been in contact with a woman about a job picking oranges. Compared to other agricultural jobs we had seen, this one seemed competitive. Rent was average, no charge for transportation to the farm each day, and though the pay was by the bushel, it wasn't as low as some of the other ones we had seen. We felt pretty good about it.
Oh no. Oh no no no.
Our first warning sign, in retrospect, was the woman emailing us the night before we left Melbourne, saying by the way you have to pay for two weeks up front ($300). We had already bought our tickets and so we shrugged, mildly irritated, and decided to proceed. Fast forward to the next day, when by 7pm we were met by this woman (girl, really) Emma at the bus station, and she ushered us into a large, unmarked van.
Never get in the van, guys. Never get in the van.
We got in the van. There was about eight people inside, young travelers like us, only sullen and silent. Warning sign number two. The only talker was the driver of the van, who yelled questions back to us and chain smoked as he loaded YouTube videos on his phone while driving. He was portly, tattooed, be-jeweled, with stripes buzzed into his short black hair, except for the curly tuft at the nape of his neck. I instantly disliked him, but not because of any of these things. I could care less if you are tattooed or wear bracelets or a pinky ring. I care if you're an asshole. His questions were too frank and invasive, and his jokes were inappropriate. But Emma was friendly and we had struck up a conversation with a Canadian guy who had also arrived that day. It seemed okay.
He yanked the van into the driveway of a small ranch house on an unremarkable residential street. Everyone clambered out and we started to follow with our packs but he and Emma stopped us. We had to pay, and suddenly it was $400 each. "A hundred dollar deposit," that had never been mentioned. And we had to sign contracts in the dark van, and give him our passports to copy. The passports were expected, the contracts stated we were paying for the job service, that rent was included, and the deposit was a surprise. We fought a bit on the deposit, $400 up front was too much, who is working for whom here? But in the end we reluctantly handed it over and got out of the van. It was dark, late, and we now didn't know where we were in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The inner voice was starting to say "I told you so."
There were fifteen people in the house, and we were instructed to just go inside and share a room with an Italian couple. So we had little choice at that point but to drag our stuff into the house and ask who was Italian. Our only stroke of luck in Mildura was the Italians. Federica and Max were sympathetic souls who, like us, holed up in the bunks in our room rather than participate in the loud drinking in the common room. The four of us would later stick together and find safety in numbers.
They said the tattooed man's name was Dom and he would be back with the van at 6am to drive us all to the farm. In the morning nine of us packed into the van with our lunches and several layers on. It took an hour to drive out to the farm, which proved to be a vineyard and not an orange grove. He pulled up to a corner of a field, dumped us, and left. The sun had no even risen yet. There were only five pairs of shears though. With a lack of leadership or instruction, the Italians and three others eventually drifted into the rows to start work, but that left four of us without any tools. So we stood and waited. And waited. And waited. By 9:30 the farmer drove up and asked why we weren't working. A guy spoke up and said Dom's cohort Simon hadn't shown up yet to show us what to do, and besides we didn't have pruning shears. The farmer shouted that this was 'bullshit' and got on his phone, yelling. Simon was there within ten minutes, complete with shiny new shears. These, we were informed, would come out of our pay. The group said we weren't paying for shears, that's ridiculous. What are a bunch of packpackers going to do with hedge clippers? No. But he shrugged us off and unwrapped them anyways. We took them grudgingly--what else were we going to do?--and followed him down a row.
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He informed us that we would be rolling grape vines, which is tedious work consisting of trimming the vines and wrapping the stubborn bastards around the wire leads that ran the length of each row. It was a lot of reaching and stretching to grasp the tall vines, which usually slipped out of your gardening gloves and thwacked you in the face or annoyingly whipped over to the other side of your fence. But it wasn't the work I minded. This was farming, we weren't expecting to make daisy chains. It was the new information that they would pay us 30c per tree for vine rolling, and you would only be paid for completed rows. An average person working quickly finishes about a row and a half in a day. About $18. Minus the shears.
Fuck. No.
This Emma person had said that her boyfriend earned about $500/week at this job. Now I don't know which vines he rolled or which oranges he picked but it was immediately clear that no one was making $500 a week in this town with their clothes on. The bitch lied. Said boyfriend was out in the vineyard with us and he didn't finish any more than anyone else. GIna and I were already panicking. $18 a day before taxes doesn't even cover food here, much less rent (I'm sorry, "job finding fee"). We worked to stay busy but already our brains were tumbling through the possibiliities of how we could get out of this. It was already apparent that we were going to have to take it at a loss.
At 4:30 he came careening down the dirt road, horn blaring. We all begrudingly got back in the van and sat sullenly in rows as he drove like a maniac for the hour back to Mildura. Dom blared Jason Mraz and Eminem and yammered on about a barbecue that weekend but not a single person responded. When he skidded next to the house and came to a stop we rushed out of the van and silently went to our respective rooms. I tried to wash the bark chips out of my hair and talked to Ryan for a bit. We tried to call Mom for advice but wound up just huddled together on my bunk, weighing the pros and cons of various ideas. In the end we decided to email the owner of a hostel that had offered us free accommodation in exchange for three shifts a week, and then we could look for jobs in that town. He wrote back immediately and said we could come asap. Thank God! We had already struck an agreement with him earlier, so luckily Mildura was only supposed to be a temporary thing, and even better, we could leave for the hostel as soon as we needed to, rather than waste our time rolling vine for beans. Before we could look up tickets to Port Macquarie though, the internet cut out and I heard shouting.
I froze. Our room was dark and the Italians were sleeping. I could tell GIna was awake in the bunk above me, but we both lay still as the voices grew louder and louder. Dom was yelling. It was after 11pm and he was in the house, yelling at a French guy who hadn't gone to work that day. Something about YouTube and being spoiled and not knowing what hard work is. Dom screaming that he was disrespectful and ignorant and a piece of shit. The French guy firing back that this was bullshit and he wants his money back. More voices chiming in until the house was full of screaming and I felt like any second it was going to come to blows. I braced myself for the sound of pounding flesh but it never came. The Italians were awake now and we all barely breathed in the darkness as the voices came closer down the hall, Dom shouting for the French guy to get out, the Irish girl rushing to his defense, everyone chiming in about how these jobs are fucking bullshit and they don't want to live in this fucking house and give us our fucking money back. The front door slammed and we heard the van roar down the street.
Emma burst in our room, saying that security was coming and everyone was being kicked out. "Maybe not you guys though. I don't know. You weren't out there so I am not sure."
Everyone was running around, cramming things into their packs and shouting for vengeance. People came in and out of our room, speculating on whether or not we too would be kicked out and giving us bits and pieces of what had transpired out in the common room. Apparently the French guy had googled Dom, aka "the don," and watched a YouTube clip from a few years ago where a news channel had investigated Dom and his "business" and had run with the tales of downtrodden and swindled backpackers. But then Dom had showed up to the house, yelling about disrespect, and ripped the internet router out of the outlet. He was screaming about how it is all slander and then Emma' boyfriend muttered something about "where there is smoke there is fire" and Dom just lost it. We pretty much heard the rest. Especially the Irish girl, who is about three feet tall and full of piss and vinegar. She was all wound up and ready to take the huge Turkish Dom with her bare hands. "I don't understand her when she talk," Max said when we were all finally alone. "All I understand is fuck and shit. That's it. Fuck fuck shit shit that's all she says."
The tension escalated again when the van rolled back up and Dom got out. Luckily he didn't come in the house, calling instead for Callum the English guy to act as go-beween. Callum came back in the house and said no one is kicked out, but if anyone is unhappy they are welcome to leave. There will be no refunds or deposits back.
The news that they would not be cast out into the darkness engergized the others, and they quickly turned to alcohol. It was getting rowdy out in the common room and kitchen as they drank liquid courage and rehashed the whole evening, the Irish fucks and shits blasting all the way down the hallway and into our ears. Gina and I had a powwow with Federica and Max and we agreed that no one was going anywhere tonight, that we might as well try to sleep. Drunk people kept coming in our room though, and it was after the Canadian, formerly so nice and chatty, laid down in the middle of our floor and started taking off his pants that we finally barricaded the door.
Sleep was pretty futile though. My heart was in my throat and I feared every little noise outside was him. Emma had now informed us that she had been contacted by other backpacker hostels in Mildura, warning her of Dom and his scams, naming him as a con artist and liar, even a possible sexual predator. Emma said even the farmer had told her to watch out, that he was "dodgy." I wanted to shake her. Yes, we had fallen for it, but she had lied to us. To the Italians, To the Canadian. She got paid for every person that got in that van and signed that form. And before her, it was someone else. And someone before that. Dom hides behind backpackers he hires to do his bookings, telling them to say whatever they can to get bodies to Mildura, and pays them per head. His own named has been smeared too much for him to do his own dirty work anymore, but still the cycle continues.
I was angry about the money. We worked hard and spent our savings on this trip, and working in Australia is a key part of the whole plan. I was angry at myself for not smelling a rat via email. I was angry that all of us, and so many more before us, had been so successfully trapped by this cologne-soaked charlatan. But I was scared too. I am not used to open conflict. To dealing with people who would con you as soon as look at you, who have a laundry list of lawsuits and formal complaints filed against them. I was hostile. At Emma, for lying to us. At Gina and myself, for falling for it. At the othe hostel, for not getting the information out there sooner or better. At the farmer, for doing business with a man he knows is untrustworthy. And above all at Dom, for his immoral and selfish treatment of travelers and young people. I am not surprised by the lawsuits. I am not sure about the sexual predator allegations. But I am sure of one thing. Come near my sister and I. WILL. FUCKING. CUT. YOU.
It was scary too how vulnerable we were with no internet. We had no phone but Federica and Max had two, but none of us even knew where in town we were. We didn't have long to worry about it in the morning though, as Dom himself was filling our bedroom doorway by 6am. He spouted a bunch of crap for about 45 minutes, about how everyone else was electing to leave, he hadn't kicked anyone out, and the YouTube and news clips were all lies taken out of context, and he was suing. Whatever. He came seven times that day, yammering on like a broken record about how he hasn't done anything wrong and the world is against him and how our money is nothing to him, it's a drop in the bucket of his business expenses.
SO GIVE IT BACK.
Everyone else left very early, shouting expletives over their shoulders as they dragged their stuff down the street. Dom growled that he was going to call immigration and get their visas revoked, as well as every hostel in town so they would have nowhere to stay. But based on the fact that the hostel were the ones warning people against him, I'm guessing they did okay. The house was trashed though, with garbage and forgotten items everywhere and beer spilled all over the floor, red solo cups and boxes of wine coating every flat surface. Gina, Federica, Max and I cleaned it all up in an attempt to win our deposits back, as that was the only scrap of money we had a chance of getting back.
We wouldn't have made it through all of it without them. It was nice to have compatriots who had come to Mildura with the same illusions, and witnessesd the newest crumbling of Dom's empire. He tried to sweet talk us into staying, offering us two weeks "on him" (shudder) but the answer was always no, no, for fuck's sake no. We just wanted out of that stupid town. The scariest part though was the suspicion that he was watching the wifi. He didn't come storming over to the house that night until someone opened that YouTube video, quite the coincidence. We never felt safe there, but feeling like you're being watched online is very very unsettling as well. Hence my blogging absence. And why I am not putting his name here, because I know he follows himself online and I don't want any connection to that man. We didn't tell him where we were going or anything.
Federica and Max took a bus to Sydney and Gina and I flew to Port Macquarie (mah-QWAH-ree), on the east coast, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. When we finally arrived at Beachside Backpackers, everyone including the owner were laughing and talking, barbecueing together and drinking wine. The polar opposite of the sad ranch house with all of the sullen workers and the arrogant asshole of a big boss. No, here they shouted welome and poured us a glass of wine, making space for us at the patio table and leaning over the huge plates of food saying, "hey, you came from Mildura? Have you heard of this guy out there? The don?"
Oh. More than we ever intended to or care to remember.
For any of you who is curious, here is a link to the best of his worst. Gina and the Italians have looked him up since we left that Big Brother house but I can't bear to yet The sight and sound makes me sick.
https://www.google.com.au/#q=the+don+of+mildura+

Posted by Chloeah 00:41 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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