To be honest I only remember hearing the name “Walabadah” and thought it was some kind of joke. I don’t reckon I’ve even spelt it right there you know. But the fact is there is a farm close to Cressy called Walabadah and I worked there cutting broccoli.
It happened to be the last field where I manually cut broccoli (after working at Walabadah, I did only one further day of broccoli harvesting – on the harvester at Formosa farm.
Walabadah was on the edge of Cressy, probably the closest broccoli field to civilisation that I worked on – it was just a 10 minute drive from Cressy village centre (if even that) – Cressy pictured there.
While working on broccoli we had a visitor from Taiwan – it was Gwen’s sister Alice. She was over on holiday and is a keen photographer, so while we slaved away on the fields of Walabadah, Alice did us all a favour of catching the best actions photos of the broccoli harvesting.
My friend Pierre parked at Walabadah.
Early morning frost and loading the tractors at Walabadah.
The main broccoli field at Walabadah, taken during a break from the “car park” section.
All aboard the tractor to be taken to our starting point.
Broccoli briefing from Rebecca, the boss.
Rebecca joins us for broccoli harvesting.
A rainbow at Walabadah.
Less than an hour later – it really doesn’t take much time to fill the boxes.
View from the tractor’s wing mirror.
Temperature, weight, orientation of tractor etc.
Irrigator and the loneliness way down south of Walabadah.
Lonely fields at Walabadah.
We worked from dawn to dusk. Sunrise when we began, sunset and moonrise when we finished.
A good shot of my co-worker Vincent throwing the broccoli.
Me searching for the next bit of broccoli.
Find it, cut it, de-leaf it and throw it.
Throwing another piece of broccoli into the boxes.
Finding more broccoli, smiling and listening to iPod at Walabadah.
Our team of 10 covering all the rows of the tractor path at Walabadah.
A lift back to our base after work. The car park wasn’t always far away – sometimes maximum of 10 minutes walk – but believe me getting a lift on the back of a truck was a Godsend in those days. I often needed a rest.
Working with the Taiwanese often meant treats. Ginger Tea, a home made speciality at Walabadah.
Ginger Tea at Walabadah, it was absolutely gorgeous.
The full team at Walabadah.
Back row from left – Alice Hsieh, Jison Lin, Jed Chuang, Joe, Terry (all Taiwan), Clement Mansot (France), Ling (Taiwan), Jonny Blair (Northern Ireland), Gewen Hsieh (Taiwan), Pierre Renard (France), Jenny Chen (Taiwan), French Lady, Rebecca Gaby (Australia – our manager), French Guy, Vincent Lee (Taiwan).
Front Row from left – Christy (Hong Kong), Damien Parmentier (France), Connie I-Fan Chen (Taiwan)
* The French couple I cannot remember their names, rarely did I work on the same team as them.
Our team – me on the right throwing it in the box.
The true solitude of Walabadah.
Me all alone in Walabadah with a piece of broccoli.
The last ever day at Walabadah – we had a wee celebration. Free Johnnie Walker Scotch tins and free XXXX Gold beer tins as well as pizza delivered to the farm! All paid for by Joe Cook – our employer.
The free alcohol boxes at Walabadah on the last day. We deserved that. Sheer bliss. A cold drink in the middle of nowhere!
Darkness has fallen on our last ever shift at Walabadah – pizzas and beer all alone in the wilderness.
Me with my manager Rebecca Gaby on the final day at Walabadah. I have a lot to thank Rebecca for in life. Firstly she promoted me to level 2, which meant a pay rise and also meant I became one of the first to work on the world’s first broccoli harvester. Rebecca also gave me the hours I wanted and needed to confirm I would be able to qualify for my visa extension but also moneywise, this meant that I could afford my trip to Antarctica. Indeed I booked that very trip whilst living in Poatina – on a day off I called into Longford Library and booked it online. In early May, I ended 6 weeks of life in the wilderness and next up was pyrethrum planting and cauliflower harvesting.
Goodnight Walabadah. We may never meet agai – ain so shed your skin and let’s get started.
Key Song –
HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS – THROW YOUR ARMS AROUND ME (we may never meet again):