After our Great Ocean Road stint we had a job lined up to work at the Yabby Lake Vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. While back in Canada my sister in-law introduced us to a wonderful Australian wine, Cooralook, and I thought it would be fun to get a job on the winery that made this beautiful wine. Well, when the managers at the winery heard we came all the way from Canada to work for them they loved the idea and hired us for fall harvest.
We loved it! If I can recommend a harvest job for a backpacker looking for their second year visa requirements, it would be to work on a vineyard. Not only are the fruit small and light (compared to the heavy watermelons we had to lug around at a later job) but there is just something so peaceful about watching the sun rise over the rows of dewy grapes and seeing the kangaroos hop between the vines with their joeys close behind. And for the guys, there are 4 wheeler ATVs and tractors to boot around on all day. It was gorgeous and peaceful, the people we met will be friends for life and we learned a lot about grapes. One day I even hope to grow a few vines and make my own wine.
The days were long but I can’t complain that they were hard. We got up early and started as the sun rose. We had 3 solid brakes a day. The weather was either unbearably hot or raining (this is March-May). But if it rained we stopped harvest not only till the rained stopped but also till the grapes dried, so as to not dilute the juice (good to know). There were a few spiders, no snakes and lots of kangaroos. We did an assortment of jobs from the actual picking to laying out the empty buckets before the pickers then picking up the full buckets after the pickers. Lifting the nets that protected the grapes from the birds and pulling out the thousands of sticks that got caught in them was by far the hardest job. The group of us had a lot of time to talk on the job (as we worked of course) so we really got to know each other. We had 2 French girls, 2 German girls, 4 Aussie guys, an Irish dude and us the Canadian couple. At one point the majority of us all lived together in a summer cottage on the beach with a pet rabbit. It was the best summer (fall) job I’ve ever had!