Set in south west Australia this quaint little town has access to idyllic beaches, endless vineyards, stunning river locations, cute little seaside towns and great wildlife. Back in 2014 I decided to move here to work and live for three months initially to work the vineyard season. The early starts before dawn were tough especially with the danger of Kangaroos hopping across you in the road. As this part of Australia becomes extremely hot around 2pm most outside jobs are finished before then. I used to love getting up early, smelling the vines and their tasty grapes, driving large tractors and being in contact with the spiders. The town itself has a great hostel to stay in which is named Margaret River Backpackers and they help you with finding work, putting you in contact with local agencies and bringing you together with fellow backpackers who are there for the same reason. An awesome fish and chip shop ‘Squid Lips’ provides you with your weekly fix of fish and chips and it’s right next to a pub called Settlers for your local music, great alcohol and lively atmosphere.
Don’t get me wrong there are backpackers here for different reasons. I met this awesome American guy who was solely here to surf with a bit of work on the side, what a life. What is essential to this part of the world is arming yourself with a vehicle. This is the gateway to all the activities available to you and the regular road trips with your hostel buddies providing you with the best experiences and stories which will last you a life time. There are so many wineries in this region that you could pick a different one every day and they will have something different for you to try. One of my favourite wineries was House of Cards who made their own ice cream and chocolate, as well as the wine.
Spiders can cause people to have nightmares but I loved my little encounter with the Huntsman spider whilst netting on a vineyard. I was unrolling the net on the back of the tractor ready to place on the vines and all the sudden, whoosh! There goes a massive spider almost the size of my hand flying towards me, I dodged it and laughed. My friend who was working with me confirmed it was a Huntsman and was harmless as they can’t poison, relief.
The early starts can be a hazard when Kangaroos are hopping about. You can see them hanging around on the banks and grass either side of the road around dusk. As they are nocturnal they should be getting to bed but sometimes they might want to change location like they did with me in my car driving to a job. About 2 metres in front of me one casually hops across the road but make no mistake about it, if I hit the Kangaroo I could have injured it with the speed I was doing as well as my car being destroyed. That was a lucky escape.
The vineyard season can be sporadic with work not being as regular as you would like with the agencies in fierce competition with each other to get the work. There is a lot of people vying work every day but the key is to have a car, know the area by road, have good skills driving a tractor and being reliable. Personally, I was hoping to get my 90 days’ regional work done all in this season but looking back this was never achievable. Don’t rely on this season for all your days but it is good for maybe around 50 days’ regional work unless you can get a job selling wine at the vineyards. A job that pays by the hour, surrounded by wine, has a 9-5 routine and you get five days a week signed off, that is the dream job if you can get it, but stiff competition.
My most favoured part of this experience is the people I met and the solid group of backpackers which we had where we shared every day laughs and weekly experiences which will last a lifetime. Those lazy days of nipping to the beach for a cheeky game of football on the beach, a cold beer and dipping in to the sea are days I will remember for the rest of my days. Those casual conversations at dinner time, bonding sessions when picking grapes and early morning alarm calls brings you as a group very close together. These type of things will enable you to have a bond that cant be broken and one which you will always be able to relate too.
To sum up, this region was my favourite part of Australia and I had the best time here despite me not achieving my goal of getting 90 regional days signed off in time. I collected some great stories along with some awesome experiences which I will always share for as long as I live. An area where you can drink so much different wine that you will never have time to drink it all. A truly remarkable coastline where you barely see a human being and you can laze amongst the sand in true peaceful tranquillity. You meet fellow backpacking travellers like yourself who have probably been travelling around different parts of the globe and will have stories to share. The hostel is a booming atmosphere with people from all around the world and you can learn little bits of language you will never forget. All in all this region of Australia is a must for a truly awesome but unique experience of part of your working visa.