Something that inevitably comes with doing farm work is living in a rural part of Australia. For us, that meant living in Mooroopna, a small town in Victoria nicknamed ‘Fruit salad city’. Most of our days here were spent working or recovering on our few days off, but we tried our best to fit in visiting some of the local attractions to get out of our trailer park lifestyle when we could.
In terms of local events, we heard about the Mooroopna Farmer’s Market and the Shepparton Summer Market and decided to go along to both. The farmers market was tiny, and didn’t really offer anything unique in my opinion, so wasn’t really worth the trip. It felt a bit more like a car boot sale rather than a market. As for the Summer Market, that turned out to just be regular shops doing their summer sales, with sales racks placed outside instead of in the store. There was a couple of food trucks and some random inflatables, but that was about it. Both were strange, and definitely not what I’d hope and expect for in a local market.
For something a bit different, you can go on a hunt for the Moooving Art sculptures. Across the Greater Shepparton area there is currently a total of over 90 cow sculptures, each painted in a different style. They are pretty unique and cool, and I actually quite enjoyed taking my time to go visit a few of these.
Heading out in Shepparton isn’t really a big event, but we definitely had a great few nights out here. We had both Australia day and St Patricks Day take place while here, so had big crowds out for that. With little choice available, we always ended up in the same bar and same club every single time! Flanagan’s Irish Bar for a few chilled drinks, before heading over the road to Bullion Bar when everyone was up for a long night of dancing. Both I’d describe as okay, probably better than expected considering the location. The top floor of Bullion I thought was great, as a rooftop bar with a dance floor included. During peak fruit picking season the club was rammed full of backpackers, but definitely died down a lot towards the end of our time there.
Venturing further afield, we made two larger day trips. First was to Kyabram Fauna Park. This was a lovely little wildlife park, which allows many of the animals to be free roaming. We saw some adorable koalas and kangaroos, and this was definitely worth the visit. Our other day trip was to a couple of the local wineries; Tahbilk and Mitchelton. Tahbilk was a beautiful little winery. You could take a self-guided tour down into the wine cellars, as well as read about the history in the entranceway and enjoy some free wine-tasting samples. There is also a beautiful cafe overlooking the river, where we stopped for lunch. After visiting here and enjoying the authentic, family run feel of the place, we headed over to Mitchelton. We didn’t like this as much, it felt more commercial and not quite as nice an experience. However, they did have a tower view-point, offering 365 degree views of the scenic surrounds, so that was worth a look.
Really, when it comes down to it the best thing that helped us get through the pain and boredom of farm work is making friends. Many nights were spent just hanging out on the campsite or at the work accommodation, having dinner, a few drinks and complaining about the struggles of work! We were also lucky enough to move into a self contained unit for our last six weeks in the factory, where we got to know our work friends better and had some great evenings around the bonfire.
If I’ve learnt one thing from my farm work, its that rural country life is definitely not for me. The best thing about doing our farm work in the Shepparton region for me was its proximity to Melbourne! Now that farm work is over and my second year visa has been approved, its time to move onwards and upwards and explore what the rest of Australia has to offer.