a Harvest Holiday

I’ve had a great time riding around on my beautiful big red tractor.file112622391
With 485hp and 3,5 meter high it’s easily the biggest thing I’m ever likely to drive.
And, over the past six weeks collecting roughly 15.000 ton grain, I’ve made a good amount of money doing so. A nice side-effect….

There’s few things you must think about when operating a machine this size.On the chaserbin
First of all, and obvious, don’t hit anything. I’m a 20 ton tractor with a 30-ton trailer, if you hit something it’s not likely to survive… I’ve managed that one alright,
Another rule is not to drive into the crop. Ever. I’ve managed to stick to that one too.

Farmers can do everything right, but if the weather doesn’t help they’re pretty much buggered.
Like when it starts raining during harvest.
The moist-level in the grain is a measure you have to take notice of. When it gets too high you need to stop working.

It’s a beautiful sight to see the dark clouds rolling in over the paddocks, with lightning and thunder… that’s another problem though. If lightning strikes on dry land a fire is easily started.from fieldbin to truck
Every farm has to have a fire-fighter car in the corner of the paddock they’re working in. And when a fire is detected everybody has to stop work, ‘cause if another fire starts there will be real trouble.
All surrounding farms will send their fire-fighters to the blaze and try to control it. It’s a real threat so while working you keep an eye on the horizons for smoke.

It’s a good job; actually it’s a great job! I’ve spend up to 90 hours a week in my comfortable cabin where I’ve got all possible luxuries, from air con to a DVD player. It’s truly glorious.
Funny how you spend a lot of time working with a few people, but you never actually see them outside the machines. Apart from 1st thing in the morning and last thing at night…Daniel

I am staying in Tony’s and Judy’s house, the farmer and his wife. They’ve been like a mum and dad to me while here. They’ve got 4 kids of which the three sons work out here on the farm. Daniel and Tim both live on the property with their own families while Jerome, the youngest, comes home for the busy times and has been travelling the world over the past 5 years.Harvest finished!
Then there is Barry, Tony’s 73 year old uncle who operates the other chaser bin and Connor, on the header, Conora 18 year old English lad who’s just over for the harvest and will go straight back home when we finish.

My job is to chase the boys around the paddock and offload them before their headers overflow.
We’ve got a bunch of guys carting the grain to Geraldton in Road trains.
Mike and John come in most regularly.Mike

On one of the rare days off John figured I should see a bit of the area.Batavia coast So we took his car and cruised up the ‘Batavia-coast’ towards Kalbarri. along the pink lakeA very scenic drive passing some peculiar pink lakes, beautiful windy coast roads, and cliffs. John and MeClimbing up a hill to have a look at this statue of a man on a bike we got a bit stuck in spider webs… lucky they weren’t dangerous ones…. (the spiders, obviously the webs weren’t)Dont forget to enjoy ;-)

John had told me he got me a birthday present, but I needed to come to Geraldton to get it…
So after work on the 8th I hopped onto his truck and off we went.sunset at the farm

I happened to have the Best birthday Ever.
Better than cycling in pouring rain in Indonesia (29th).
Better even than sharing pizza with 14 strangers including a Buddhist monk in Kathmandu.. (28th)
Better than building a snow-lady in Sweden …(26th) Although the bicycle-birthday cake I got there deserves a mention…
Better than getting my hair & make-up done and be all pretty and girly in Derry (25th).
Better than hiking across Spain (24th) and most definitely better than sitting around on an airport (23th) or living in a closet in Edinburg (22nd) …

still standingIt might be because it was my first birthday in summer, or it might be because John took me to the airport and in a tiny little plane we took off to the Abrolhos islands.Plane It was a beautiful trip and from the air you see all the coral reefs and small islands where fishermen and pearl farmers are trying to make a life in harsh but pretty surroundings.Flying!
We could even see dolphins from the air!where the fisherman live

It also happens to be the exact spot where the 1st Europeans set foot on Australian soil back in 1629 when the Dutch VOC-ship the ‘Batavia’ hit the reef and sank, leaving the passengers and crew stuck on those desolated islands where they stayed and survived till some of the crew rowed to Indonesia to get help. Most were brutally murdered, but some survived and made their way to Indonesia and eventually back home. Some were punished for their crimes and either hanged or let loose on the mainland. Where, so the story goes, they might have mingled with local aboriginals. From the 341 people who set sail from Holland only 77 survived…Abrohlos
A small fort still stand on the island these days and I flew right over the top to see the first European building in Australia. 1st European building 1629I find it funny to think that the first people here were Dutch and at least for this one day, the last one was too….

Then we spent half a day snorkelling around the Island and after my first worry to encounter sharks or other deadly creatures that live in Australian waters I thoroughly enjoyed watching the little (and not so little) fish, sea-cucumbers and stars and even a stingray. I stayed well clear of that one… we all know what happened to Aussie legend Steve Irwin….the island

Back on the picture perfect white beach our pilot/tour guide set up a table full of rolls, fresh salads and seafood. Even a bottle of champagne wasn’t missing! Wow! Happy birthday to me 🙂pilot..tourguide.. waiter

After a stroll around the island where it kept amazing me how people could’ve survived with the lack of fresh water and… well anything really. I did spot 3 of the small wallabies that inhabit the island and have done so forever, they were a food source for those first shipwreck-survivors as well.

On the way back to the farm there was a bit of a hold up as half the country seemed to be burning, we’d already seen the fires and the smoke from the plane.
After some time and with a police escort we were taken down the road where the glowing trees and burning fences were quiet a spectacular and rather Christmassy sight.
Shame it does so much damage…. 3.000 hectares just went up in flames in no time at all…

Now I’m 30 and since there seems to be no signs of settling down mum & dad gave up hope of me ever walking down the aisle. So instead of buying me a wedding gown, like they did for my sister, they decided to give me the money.. That means I can keep cycling an extra half-year at least with the rate I’m spending! Hurray!gonna miss that tractor....

I’ve got another job lined up straight after harvest, its back with the crew I worked with just before I landed myself on the tractor.

It means getting up around midnight to go and cover the grain in bulkheads. It’s hard work and the reason we do it at night is it’s cooler than the 40 degrees it reaches during the day. Also the wind settles down a little. Last year a guy died when the tarp he was working with took off and sent him flying…
Wading knee-deep through grain while dragging a 360kg tarp with 5 others is fairly heavy. That’s a good thing after sitting still on the tractor where I seemed to expand at an alarming rate… 😉

Can hardly wait to get back on two wheels.
It will probably be just after new years.

So for now I wish you all a merry Christmas.
We’ll see what the New Year will bring.we keep going...


19 thoughts on “a Harvest Holiday

  1. Hoi Mir,
    super verjaardag gehad zeg!! Lekker hoor. Leuk te horen hoe het gaat, krijg zin om even langs te komen; hier is het koud en vandaag alles wit. Verder alles goed. Alvast een gezellige kersttijd gewenst. En weer veel nieuwe, leuke, spannende momenten voor 2010! Take care -xxx-

  2. Mirjam,

    Ik volg je reisverslagen met veel plezier. Je schrijft leuk. Ik ben een Europa fietser geweest en nu op leeftijd. Santiago de Compostella was de laatste tocht. Ik schrijf en spreek luisterverhalen over mijn avonturen. Maar ik reis nu met je mee , in gedachte, op de fiets en ik vind het heerlijk om te lezen wat en waar je nu bent.Voor 2010 een goed fietsjaar toegewenst.

    Met hartelijke groeten,

    Robert Starrenburg

    weblog luisterverhalen:

  3. Hi Mirjam,

    Zo’n tractor is toch wel meer kick dan courgettes plukken in Carnarvon (wat ik deed 10 jr gelee)

    Wat een bevoorrecht mens ben jij om dit allemaal te mogen doen. Enjoy the fun.

    And welcome to the 30ties

  4. Hallo Mirjam

    Sinds mijn dochter in 2007 op reis is geweest volg ik ook jouw avonturen via deze site. De foto’s die je maakt vind ik ook prachtig ik wens je hele gezellige feestdagen en een goed en gezond 2010.

  5. hoihoi, leuk verhaal weer. Maar ik zit nog wel met de brandende vraag waar je dan was op je 27e verjaardag. kus uit wit winters wesepe!

  6. Leuk verslag, bijzondere verjaardag, leuk werken op de boerderij, lijkt me schitterend daar, je mist niets in NL.
    (denk ik)
    groet uit Khon Kaen en fijne kerstdagen toegewenst !

  7. Happy birthday!! Wow, ik denk dat iedereen wel kan dromen van zo’n verjaardags cadeau, het ziet er prachtig uit! Heel veel plezier met je nieuwe job, een hele fijne kerst en een happy 2010!!

    Groetjes vanuit Sydney!

  8. Hee Mirjam!

    Weer een verhaal vol leuke belevenissen en prachtige foto’s en ook nog een stukje Batavia-geschiedenis…
    En die temperaturen…hier kunnen we alweer bijna schaatsen (net als in januari) het schiet niet echt op met die opwarming hier.. .
    En straks in de weer met die grote lappen over het graan…blijf maar op de grond (of op het graan…)

    Kus van ons!

    pap & mam.

  9. Hi Mirjam, Hope you enjoy your Aussie Christmas. Heat, beer, prawns and the beach. A bit different to your European Christmas. You’ll miss the family though.

  10. Hallo Mirjam, allereerst nog gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag alweer 30 geworden ja zo gaat de tijd nog sneller met al die belevenissen, en wat een leuk cadeau die rondvlucht wat is het toch een prachtig land.
    Verder weer genoten van je belevenissen ik zou zeggen keep going. Ik wens je gezellige Kerstdagen en voor 2010 heel veel gezondheid en plezier voor je volgende (fiets)tocht door Australie. Groetjes van Riet S.

  11. hallo Mirjam,Ik had eerst een mail willen sturen maar die heb je al wel ontvangen.In ieder geval willen wij je heel goede kerstdagen toewensen en een goed gezond nieuwjaar,en weer veel veilige kilometers.Hier gaat alles prima er ligt een dik pak sneeuw dus we hebben een witte kerst,ontvang ook van opa veel lieve groeten en een knuffel liefs oma.

  12. Hoi Mirjam,

    Dit keer even vanuit Litomysl de hartelijke groeten, ook van Zlatka en Jiri. Vanmiddag zijn we wezen skieen…weer even wat anders dan bij jou..
    Veel liefs van ons en leuk trouwens dat je nog wat langer down under mag blijven.

    pap en mam.

  13. Merry Christmas to you too.

    In the Uk they have the white christmas that I have dreamed of for many, many years – how unfair is that!?

    I will just have to suffer the pool, the salads and the heat. Oh well.

    Good luck for 2010 – keep on enjoying and writing your wonderful stories.

    Linda xx

  14. Awesome, Mirjam. Looks like you’re having a beautiful time finding the beautiful places in Australia. Don’t forget NZ though!
    Hope to see you over here soon.

  15. Hi Mirjam,

    I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best for your exciting life! Many people in Austria admire your braveness when I tell them in my photoshow from my trip with the VW bus from Austria to India the story of you and Wilbert in Iran 2007!

    Take care,

  16. Happy New Year!
    Hope 2010 will bring you the great experiences and adventures you’re looking for!
    Enjoy the life in Aussie, cause everybody here’s just complaining about the snow, cold and an eventually to be ride Elfstedentocht…

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