A Travellerspoint blog

How to cure Homesickness

A step by step guide

overcast 10 °C

Today, one week short of having been on the road for a year, I was struck by the not-so-familiar feeling of Homesickness. After spending about 2 hours on the phone to my lovely parents yesterday they, and home, filled my dreams last night. I woke up with a pang of missing something, or a lot of things.

For the first time since I left home nearly a year ago I realized I actually miss it. I miss the food, though that's hardly new, but further I miss my family, my friends, going to visit grandma for Sunday Roast - preferably moose. I miss blackcurrant jelly, lingonberry jam and ostkaka. I miss getting in the car to drive to my friends' and just hang out. I miss Stockholm in the summer and I miss the closeness to other European countries. Damn, I even miss snow, though it's the wrong time of year for that now.

Overcome by feelings of emptiness and despair I decided to get over it, I'm not in a financial position where I can just fly back and forth across the world at will and the funds won't magically appear anytime soon, so I'll just have to suck it up, be a man and get over it. Here's how I did it.

Step 1: Go about business as usual.
Have breakfast, go to work and listen to music. Don't avoid music from your home country, it's good therapy to face your feelings.

Step 2: Break the routine.
Spill food on the floor and have the cleaning lady suck it up with the vaccuum cleaner. Eat alone by the fire-place instead of at the table.

Step 3: Talk to a friend.
Not one from back home, but someone you love and trust in the country you are in right now. If you know some other traveler, great. If not, just go with it anyway. For me it works especially well if they try to push me towards going home for a visit; I always want to do the opposite of what people tell me.

Step 4: Have some whiskey ready for occasions like this.
Sip it gently. Take a good swig, or skull the whole damn thing; whatever floats your boat, man.

Step 5: Research further trips.
Now that you're a bit tipsy and have your inhibitions lowered, as well as your adventurous spirit off its leash, you should start looking at fun things you want to do where you are currently at, or where you will be heading in the near future. Get the excitement over the road to come back to you.

Step 6: Remember why you left in the first place.
You probably wanted some adventure in your life, ie your life at home sucks! What would you do if you were home now? I'd probably just eat lots of food, have a kebab pizza and go into a coma for a couple of days. Then I'd see all my friends and family and within a week I'd be bored out of my mind again, acheing to leave that boring place once again.

Step 7: Send me $100 as thanks for curing your illness
Not really part of the cure, but hey, I need the money so I can go back for a visit!

So what have we learnt today kids? A blog without photos is boring.

Beppe Karlsson, Harcourt

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 23:27 Archived in Australia Tagged australia homesickness homesick beppe_karlsson farmwork farm_work specified_work_australia Comments (1)

Bye bye bushlife

Hello old life

overcast 8 °C

Time passes by quite quickly. Before I knew it my three months were almost up. In only another two weeks I will again be free to roam this country for a year. One more year. We'll see if I make it away from Victoria this time.

Truth be told I've loved it here, and I've come to terms with my own existence as a nomad, not a traveler or explorer. I go from one place to another, stay as long as I like, and move when I need to. I still love Melbourne, so I think I'll stick around for a bit more.

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I'm buying a van so I can go on weekend or sometimes week-long get-aways. So I won't be completely stuck. In fact, it will be my part-time home, I might even get a minifridge or something for it, to keep my beers cold.

It also looks like I am going back to my old job at Richmond Oysters, though I keep forgetting to call and confirm. We'll see what's changed there by the time I get back. Hopefully the core of all the good people will still be there, I know a few have left, and I hope they've been replaced by new "friendlies" to make work more enjoyable. Not that pouring beer and wine is that ardous anyway, although the clean up after is far from fun.

Even though I've been eagerly anticipating the end of my farm work I have enjoyed my time in rural Victoria, and I have met lots of good people and interesting characters. I have done and seen a few really cool things, like prospecting for gold with Ken and Jock.

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Sometimes they got lucky and found a few pieces, though I think there's a lot more to it than luck. A certain amount of skill and experience gathered over the years proved to be quite useful. It kinda pains me to admit that I never found anything at all, other than a few bullets and old tins and buckets of course.

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Now I'm sitting on my last farm, an orchard with 5,000 trees. Since we're not in fruit picking season I do all the other winter jobs, like cutting grass, pruning (a skill Katie will teach me tomorrow), cleaning out the cooler and all sorts of odd jobs around the farm. Sometimes you get rewarded for your hard labour, like when Hugh asked if I wanted to go watch the footy, Collingwood vs Carlton. An offer I couldn't turn down. So I went, along with 75,755 others, to watch Collingwood lose for only the third time this season. Since I didn't really have any kind of ties to any of the teams I didn't really care and was more excited to watch my first game of footy at the MCG. I think I will go again sometime this year.

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Sometimes you catch the neighbours goat as he goes to check out the greener grass on the other side.

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Other fun, or not so fun, things you get to see in the bush include skinks and wolf-spiders. Neither are any dangerous, and the only reason I'm wearing a rubber glove when I'm handling the skink is because I was playing around in dirty water when I found him.

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I thought I'd compensate for an extremely poorly written, and long overdue entry with lots of crappy pictures from my cellphone. Dunno if it worked really.

Beppe Karlsson, Harcourt

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 00:46 Archived in Australia Tagged animals melbourne australia gold goat orchard skink miners beppe_karlsson farmwork farm_work specified_work_australia gold_fields wolf_spider Comments (1)

Navigating with the stars

A journey through time

semi-overcast 15 °C

About a thousand years ago my ancestors, the mighty Vikings, navigated across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of the stars and discovered North America, some 500 years before Columbus. They called it Vinland.

The early farming communities that seemed to appear out of nowhere sometime in our pre-history all used the changing of the constellations as a guide to know when to sow, and when to harvest.

Countless ancient structures are aligned with constellations and important stars. Some ancient cultures knew what the stars really were: other suns, just like our own. How did they know that? Beats me. For all I know they could've had visitors from intergalactic civilizations.

Yet today we hardly ever take notice of the stars, if you're lucky enough to even be able to see them at all. Their faint, distant light stands no match for our city lights. Even far out in the suburbs and smaller towns you only see a tiny fraction of the magnificent skies we have above us.

Now that I'm out here in the bush the skies are clear of all light-pollution. The stars and the moon light my way at night when I walk from the house to my caravan, some 20 meters away. Well, that and my flashlight. This is the 21st century after all.

So I've found myself rediscovering the mesmerising effect they have on your mind. You can easily get a stiff neck from looking up into the skies for too long, losing yourself in thoughts about the universe, looking for UFOs that never seem to want to show themselves to you, as if you're not worthy (or crazy) enough to see them.

However, this night-time sky is different to the one I'm used to. I can't find the Pole star, I can't see the Big Dipper and a whole bunch of other ones. Instead I find myself looking at the Southern Cross as the only constellation I've identified. Though I'm no astronomer and need to have them all pointed out to me to see. I have been able to catch both Mars and Venus as they make their way across the black canvas. The Aboriginals have at least two of their own constellations: the Emu and the Serpent; good and evil respectively. Their fighting was, according to Aboriginal lore, responsible for the shaping of the land with mountains, lakes and rivers; all results of their struggle.

These things and more cross my mind now that I find myself in the tranquility of the country-side, out of the stress under the constant light of the cities. Among other benefits I've noticed: my sleep is a lot better and I wake up more rested than usual, even after less sleep at times.

Wildlife is abundant with kangaroos hopping around, drinking from the irrigation damm a few hundred meters from the house. There are some 30-60 species of birds nesting in the bush around the property, depending on the season. There are spiders everywhere, like my pet Huntsman Olle. The other day I saw a Praying Mantis just outside the back. Sadly my real camera is broken at the moment, but I snapped a shot with the camera on my mobile phone and that will have to do.

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I can only say I'm glad I'm not a male Praying Mantis as the female bites it's head off while mating. The headless body is still capable of completing this act of necrophilia. They're a strange lot these animals and bugs...

Beppe Karlsson, Bromley

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 02:53 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes animals sky night australia beppe_karlsson farmwork farm_work gold_fields Comments (2)

Creepy-crawly things in the bush

My new pet is a Huntsman

Keeping warm out here in the bush means you've got to wrestle Huntsmen and Scorpions for your firewood.

Me and Ken took the ute out into the forest to find some logs to cut up and bring home for firewood. As he starts up the chainsaw and cuts into the first log I see something crawling away and up the closest tree, a big spider that hid behind the bark, startled by this strange activity. Soon I started gathering up the newly cut-up pieces and as I was carrying one of the to the ute I saw another fairly big Huntsman sitting on the log. He was watching me as well, we had a moment together before I decided I'd rather get rid of him than have him crawl up my arm. So I threw the piece of wood onto the ute and ran up to see if I could get rid of the damned thing with a stick. He was upside-down on his back and his legs were twitching, soon he was dead.

I heard Ken shout and saw him whack another big one off his shoulder. It had crawled all the way up his leg and was steadily making it's way toward his neck, probably to give him a nibble. Apparently we'd disturbed a nest and I saw many more of those little things before we were finally done. I kept turning every piece over before picking it up and soon enough I'd even seen a tiny Scorpion crawl around. Of course I did the usual boy-thing and poked it with a stick. It didn't move. I quickly bored and went back to gathering up all the cut pieces.

Yesterday I was hanging out outside my caravan and noticed I'd got mysel a new pet: a Huntsman has moved into an old bottle right outside. I thought he was dead first as he refused to move when I hit the glass with my fingernails. So I let him be and went about my business as usual. When I checked on him a couple of hours later he'd moved slightly to a different spot in the bottle. Now everytime I see him he's moved a little. I don't know if he's stuck in there and can't get out, or if he's just found an awesome spot for catching little bugs, but I'm sure he's not happy with me shining my flashlight on him after sunset and hitting the glass with my fingernails. I just hope he's not prone to revenge, though his bite would hardly kill me. For now I'll just keep him as my pet and call him "Olle, the lame spider" as he is very uninterested in my activities.

Another week has passed and I've now done 22 days toward my second visa. With 66 days to go I feel that time is almost flying past and I've been offered to stay at my current farm for a while longer. I said "yes please" as I like this place and my hosts.

Australia is not getting rid of me just yet.

Beppe Karlsson, Bromley

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 01:29 Archived in Australia Tagged farmwork farm_work specified_work_australia gold_fields Comments (0)

Bushmen and Goldfields

The story of farming for your second year visa

Since I've now been in Australia for over eight months, and still love this red continent to bits and pieces, I need to do 88 days of 'specified work in rural Australia' in order to extend my visa with another year. So far I am fifteen days into it, leaving me with 73 days to go in the bush.

To some people this might feel like the ultimate chore, especially while traveling. Who wants to go to small rural towns, and God forbid: the bush? For three months!

To other people it's hard to get the amount of days necessary for the second visa application to go through. That's because they can't see past their money-bags.

A much more sure thing if you want to get the number of days needed in a short time is WWOOFing, Willing Workers On Organic Farms. This of course means you don't get paid for your labour. However it has it's perks: you get food and accommodation in exchange for your blood, sweat and tears. Yes, I've given all: blood on fences, sweat while working, and tears from dust in my eyes (or so I'll have you believe). Another perk is the fact that you will not be told there is no work for you today as you're not getting paid anyways, they've got nothing to lose.

On top of that you actually get a taste of true and genuine country-life, as the family takes you into their home, and show you around the country side.

In my case that has meant two different farms to date, the second one far exceeding the first as far as I'm concerned. I get along well with my hosts Ken and Lisa. They run an organic herb farm, we've been busy at work, planting garlic all week. However, that's not interesting enough to be writing in a blog, so I'll just skip ahead to all the interesting stuff.

The farm is situated in the area known as the "Golden Triangle", the location for the Victoria Gold Rush in the mid 19th century. In the 1850's the closest gold-reef to this farm kept some four-thousand miners busy, digging holes in the ground, looking for a shiny yellow metal, precious amongst our kind for millenia.

Ken has a hobby. He has a metal-detector and a miner's right. Yes, we go looking for gold along the old diggings on our spare time. So far I've found a copper wire and a bunch of old cans and buckets. There is gold out there though, still, just the other week someone dug up a 46 ounce piece, worth some $70 000. I don't really hope to find a nugget of that calibre, but I wouldn't mind finding a small one, or at least some bullets and old coins.

I'm currently the resident of a caravan that I have all to myself, going over to the house to get my meals and social interaction. I like this place, I think I'll stay here for a while. Not the whole 73 days though, my hosts are going away in July. I'll find somewhere else by then.

For now all I need to think about is that I am counting down the days until I can apply for my second visa, so that I may stay another year in this country I have taken to my heart. Sadly, to all the people I've left behind, it means I won't be coming back anytime soon.

Beppe Karlsson, Bromley

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 02:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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