24 April 2018

Wanderings in Tasmanian Fields

Harvesting raspberries in Tasmania and watching the days go by without realizing it.
Tasmania © Claire Blumenfeld

A month and a half ago, after my stay at Tiandi Wildife Sanctuary, I joined Tasmania to work again at Costa but this time in the raspberry harvest. After the blueberries in Tumbarumba, I wanted to continue in the fruit picking. Thanks to Angeline’s help, I was able to request a transfer and I got a job as an assistant directly. It was still necessary that I harvest raspberries the first day to familiarize myself with the small pink fruit but on my second day in Costa Devonport I resumed the work that I knew well. My first week was spent in the Kilo team, supervised by Antonella and then Raul, two Italians, to learn the specificities of assistant and supervisor work on the farm. Although very similar to Tumbarumba, Costa Devonport does things a little bit differently (including a lot more paperwork to complete). It was a very nice week where I juggled between different positions and sympathized with a lot of people. And I moved for the first time into a sharehouse in the center of Devonport which was very pleasant to live. The rest of the roommates were all Taiwanese but they were very friendly. I had the impression of rolling on a cloud, to accomplish satisfactorily everything I wanted.

And Tasmania enchanted me from the first moment. Located 200km off the southeast coast of Australia, the island is accessible by ferry and plane from Melbourne. The Spirit of Tasmania, the ferry crossing, a big red liner, landed after an afternoon at sea in the tiny port of the small town of Devonport and it only took me a glance to fall in love with it. A small port town, the mountains in the background and an atmosphere of simplicity and well-being. My definition of paradise.

The second week I became supervisor and everything changed. Bye happiness, hello problems. The big difference with Tumbarumba is that the teams are much bigger here and they need cinq to six assistants plus the supervisor as well as the use of a laptop to record the picker’s harvest. The work in Tumba was done on paper and pen and as I quickly realized it, much more pleasant and better organized. The days passed, similar, monotonous and exhausting. In the end, I spent cinq weeks doing very long and tiring days, having to deal with a team of disrespectful managers and trying to do a good job while filling a ton of unnecessary paperwork every day. And during all this time I did not have the time and motivation to go explore Tasmania nor really forged friendships with my roommates or backpackers in the fields. I went through the days without realizing it. I was there without been really there.

But despite this disappointing aspect, Costa Tasmania was not such a horrible experience. Although the work was difficult, I continued to develop my experience as a supervisor and manage a team. I also met two, three really interesting persons (Japanese, French, Taiwanese) with whom I sympathized and I signed up at the sports center five minutes from my house to go for training and gym classes every day. Around mid-April, the harvest began to decrease and the hours were reduced. So I left Costa like many others to work at Premium Fresh in the vegetable harvest. And then that’s it. From these (almost) two and a half months in Tasmania, I just keep the feeling of a vague memory. To have flown over all that. No great memories, very few photographs, missed relationships and a slight sense of failure.

I do not really understand why I feel this way. It is quite strange because Tasmania, I like it a lot. And I like it more and more since I started two weeks ago exploring it during my days off. There is something in the landscape that makes me feel good. That gives me the impression of being in the right place. This island, a mix of New Zealand and Australia, it is the environment I love. Mountainous, countryside, cold, beautiful. And the sunsets and sunrises are superb. I think I have never seen so many sunsets since I arrived in Tasmania. And then recently I feel creative again. I want to practice photography more and more. I want to surpass myself, to improve myself.

The days are becoming colder and the winter is getting closer. And with it will come the snow and its white coat, the fields covered with frost and a pure light. Perfect photographic opportunities. So I decide to stay a little longer. I was thinking of leaving Tasmania around mid-May after spending a dozen days exploring it and then going on a ten-day meditation course, but I decide to change my plans. The island seems to hold me back, push me to stay, to continue exploring it. And the possibility to continue saving by working at Premium Fresh for about two months made me decide to stay here. It is like a second chance. Two more months in front of me to fully enjoy Tasmania, to meet people, to open my eyes and to anchor in reality.

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Chapter III. The wondering continent

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