I was twenty-three when I moved to Australia. I couldn’t speak English and I had just 3000 euros in my bank account.
I decided to leave Italy because I always dreamed of traveling and seeing the world. By this time, I had already had two short living abroad experiences, one in Spain and one In England. Also, living in Italy was an unpleasant experience. I was working like a donkey for very low wages and worst of all, I felt like I wasn’t learning anything about life.
A few of my friends were already living in Australia and all of them seemed very happy. Their pictures, their Facebook profiles, everything I saw from them was so freaking interesting that I couldn’t resist anymore and I bought a one-way ticket to Perth. Edo one of my life-long friends was based in Fremantle. He suggested that I come to his place so he could help me start my new life in Australia, and I accepted!
I arrived in Perth with very poor English but I managed to get a lift to Edo’s place from a family that was going in the same direction. I remember it was late in the night and Edo was in Bali. I had his housemate’s number. I was going to my friend’s place to share my life with someone that I didn’t know, in a car filled with strangers.
Edo didn’t describe the way he was living but because of our friendship I knew I would like it, so I didn't even ask. The nice family dropped me off in front of his house. There was a lot of noise and music was coming from the place, clearly, my new housemates were having fun.
Edo came back a few days after my arrival. He gave me his bed while he moved to the sofa. He then helped me to get a tax-filing number and all the documents I needed to start working legally in Australia. In less than a week I was ready to find a job. While attending parties, walks on the beach and other fun things, I was delivering my resume to every restaurant in Freo. Unfortunately, everyone rejected me because my English just wasn’t good enough. After two months I had just 200 Euros left in my Italian bank account.
I was very happy my life had a twist that I was expecting. I wouldn’t give up because going back home wasn’t a thing I would consider. Fortunately, my housemates went on holiday together, two of them Monica and Ben worked at the same place and they asked me to cover both their shifts. I ended up making plastic cups for 10 hours per day for 7 days and I got paid AUD 1200, which is almost a month of work in Italy. After I received the money, I was super pumped and determined, ready to do anything to spend more time in Australia.
Soon after my plastic factory experience, Monica found a job in the Northern Territory, in the middle of nowhere at a roadhouse in the Outback. They were looking for two girls and she asked me if I wanted to go with her. I didn’t have any other choices and I was broke AF, the owner didn’t care about my English level so of course, I accepted the position.
The roadhouse was called Wauchope Hotel, situated in the heart of the Australian desert five hours north of Alice Springs and one hour south of Tennant Creek, right next to the Devils Marbles National Park.
Roadhouses in Australia are basically far from everything. Our first neighbor was 14 km down the road, but our place was always very busy. We had farmers, cowboys, truckers, tourists and aboriginal people coming and going every day. We were open until late, giving the best parties to the local workers, and opening very early in the morning to feed the truckers. We were always celebrating something, so life in the desert wasn’t boring at all. For that reason, Bruce asked me and the other staff members to work 7 days a week, with the promise of paying all the extra days cash at the end of the 6 months.
The staff was composed of me and Monica, both Italians, Nicole and Clare both Australians. All of us were under 25, a very young team! Sometimes, someone would stay for few months working a little in exchange for accommodation. And of course the two owners Bruce and Kerstin.
To show my gratitude for the position, I was always available. I really needed that job! Also routine kills me so I was always wandering around asking “How does that work?”’ “How can I do that?” “Can you teach me how to use the lawnmower?” I ended up speaking pretty good English in 2 months while I wandered all over the place. I learned how to everything from the garden to the kitchen.
Kerstin and Bruce were very impressed with my capabilities and I remember clear as if it were yesterday when he came to me and said: “Marta, we haven’t had someone like you in a long time and I need a vacation. I’ll teach you how to do the salary slips and I’ll take Kerstin to the beach for a month”. I became the manager of the roadhouse!
It was a crazy month, we doubled the number of parties, while the bosses were away, we really partied hard but because of that, we doubled also the income of the place so when they came back they were very happy.
Time flies and six months had passed. I was getting paid AUD800 per week with free food and accommodation, and on top of it, as promised by Bruce, I was paid the bonus for working 7 days per week. I left Wauchope hotel with AUD 23000. Yes, you heard it correctly, twenty-three thousand dollars in six months.
written by: Marta Sailis
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