Sparky Travels

April 26, 2010

Carney times

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 11:19 am

While leaving the hostel one day I spotted a job posted on the board at reception.  Someone was looking for people to work the first 14 days of April. I’d had no luck with agency or direct applications so had a convenient 14 day gap in my calendar and a real need of money. I phoned the number and got an interview for the Monday. After a short interview informal interview at the site of the upcoming Royal Easter Show I was given the job. Mark Abrahams is now master of balloon bust.

My first day working on a showground stall at the huge Sydney Royal Easter Show was aptly the first of April. I was the April fool doing a 13hr shift standing at a ‘Balloon Busting’ game stall trying to entice punters to “have a game mate”. In between there was the endless task of blowing up balloons and re-stocking the prizes. The game is simple:

  • Throw the darts at the wall of balloons
  • Burst a balloon
  • Look at the number underneath it
  • See what prize you win
  • Add up your numbers for bigger and better prizes

2 darts for $5 or 5 for $10 and some low numbers under most of the balloons ensured high scores took time and money to reach. Even so, everyone went home with a prize of some sort. The owners and permanent staff were all very welcoming and there were four backpackers working the stall. Vince (England), Rebecca(German) , Nadia (Swiss) had all responded tot he same advert. The girls were quiet and not particularly good at the job but Vince was a good laugh. The girls would finish early and then me or Vince would stay late to help Chris close up the stalls.

Sometimes I would be helping the two mad old ladies on the ‘Pluck a Duck’ stall, a pair of sweetie-wives with microwave cooking tips and a comical hatred for each other. The days didn’t exactly fly by, though I did get into a rhythm and was surprised that by the end I’d done 163 hrs. In 14 straight days of working and no drinking. The wad of cash at the end including paid breaks made it all worth while. I got the last train from Olympic Park to the hostel for the final time on the 14th and looked forward to some time off.

I continued to stay at Sydney Backpackers till the 18th of April. By now I had checked in (using the 4 nights for 3 introductory offer) & out many times and been in almost every dorm room on every floor. I did a bit more unsuccessful job hunting and caught up on everything I’d neglected for the last 2 weeks.

On Saturday 17th April I met Grandma, Uncle Martin & Auntie Janis, cousin Michelle, Rebecca and Jack at Sydney Opera House.  My Gran is 89 and has come on a month long trip to London, Singapore, Australia and L.A with my Uncle and Aunt. Impressive!  It was great to see everyone at such a picturesque location though I dumbly forgot to get photos.

I checked out of the hostel again and after dumping my stuff in Michelle’s car we went on a walk round Darling Harbour. A scenic ferry to Circular Quay brought us to the Rocks markets which have some decent stuff for sale. A bite to eat there, ferry back and then a 2hr drive up to Metford finished the day.

I stayed at Michelle and Craig’s until the 22nd of April. In that time we went to Tea Gardens (where I lost my sunglasses in the ocean) just North of Nelson Bay and out to dinner at Hunter River in Maitland. The house was packed to the rafters with Abrahams’ for these days and I’m amazed that everyone - not least Michelle and Craig - managed to stay sane.

Returning to Sydney, I stopped off at the Sydney Backpacker’s Hostel again for one night on the 22nd before catching a train with Vince to Clarendon (North West of Sydney) for a weekend stint at the Hawkesbury Show.

Our free accommodation for the long weekend was comical. One of the stockrooms in the back of the Balloon Bust trailer had been emptied and a couple of mattresses put on the shelves. This 6′ x 6′ x 6′ box was our home for the next four nights. The kitchen was a microwave in the corner and the camp toilets were 500m away through the showground.

We help set up on the Thursday and then worked the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the show before leaving on Monday morning. What little spare time we had was spent chilling with Vince in our box. When I say chilling, I really mean it. The nights were cold and with no blankets or insulation we were frozen from around 4am. Over the weekend we managed to watch some movies on my laptop… Superbad (funny), Gran Torino(awesome), Watchmen(cool) and some episodes of Skins.

There were no shops around so dinner consisted of whatever we could get at the petrol station which could be cooked in the microwave. Egg-fried noodles with tuna and vegetables was our most impressive culinary feat but normally it was super-noodles or macaroni cheese sachets.

We caught the said our goodbye’s on Monday morning and caught the train back to Sydney. The people we worked with were really good to us and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again if our paths cross in Australia …. though only if I’m really desperate for money.

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