You never know where you’re going to end up.
I left Sydney last Friday and took a train to the newest spot in my Australian journey: a place called Wagga Wagga.
Wagga Wagga (pronounced Wah-guh, Wah-guh) is a hot, dry, primarily agricultural area in New South Wales. In the summer months it regularly hits 40, and occasionally close to 50, degrees Celsius. I’ve arrived at the tail end of fall, and the weather so far has been lovely: 20 degrees during the daytime, dropping to about 5 at night.
I’ve got a job here as an au pair. To be honest, child care isn’t something I ever imagined myself working in; but in these crazy times, I’m happy for something to occupy my time. Jobs in Australia are slim pickings these days. Part of the reason I got this job is actually thanks to horses (once again). The family I’m working for has a small hobby farm with four horses, and they thought it would be nice to have someone who – in addition to child care – could help out with the animals. I was the only applicant with horse experience and with experience living in remote/rural areas.
Some of the neighbour horses. The landscape around here is mostly flat:
Every morning I start by feeding the horses – the most peaceful time of my day! Throughout the morning I supervise the two kids, aged 8 and 10, as they do their schoolwork. The kids don’t love school, so sometimes it’s a bit of an effort to get them to focus.
In the afternoons we do fun stuff: outdoor time, art projects, and nature scavenger hunts. I’m also learning the rules to playing “footie” (Australian football). From what I’ve learned so far, it’s nothing like American football; the pass is different, as is the ball. You can still tackle, but you can only tackle the player holding the ball, and everyone wears a lot less protective equipment.
In the evenings and weekends I have free time. I live with the family, so sometimes the kids are asking me to do things and hang out after work. It’s sweet, but at the end of a day spent fully with them, sometimes I just want some alone time. The parents are really good at making sure I can get away if I want to.
I find my escape usually with the horses. Of the family’s four horses, two are suitable for riding, and I’m allowed to ride whenever I like. Since I’ve been here, a couple of the neighbours have also offered me horses to ride, which is lovely. I have no shortage of ponies to work with, which is good. It’s pretty much the main thing keeping me sane lately.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Wagga Wagga; until the kids are allowed back to school or I’m able to travel around again, whichever comes first.
It’s not terribly exciting here but I have food, a job, kind employers, a safe place to sleep, and horses to ride.
For now, I’m good.