Hi Melissa, where are you at the moment?
I’ve unfortunately returned to the UK after two awesome, awesome years in Australia. I want to go back like you wouldn’t believe.

And what did you get up to while you were in Australia?
I did a stack of travelling and then did some work so I could do a stack more travelling.

What kind of jobs did you have?
Well I worked in a café for a bit in Sydney but I guess the more interesting thing I did was work on a strawberry farm. I LOVE strawberries. Adore strawberries, in fact. I now have back muscles I didn’t know I had though.

How did you get the job?
I wanted to do something in an area where not everybody goes, so my boyfriend talked to a few contacts he had in tourism and they gave me a list of different places. I gave each a call, some weren’t interested and others offered different things so I checked them out and I ended up in South Australia on a strawberry farm.

What’s the pay?
It was alright. I got paid by the hour which was good but they work you pretty hard and don’t let you slack off, it’s a pretty efficient kind of farm.

Why do it?
I did it because I wanted to stay longer in Australia. I had heard of people paying for the farmer’s ABN and stuff but I’m such a chicken when it comes to stuff like that, that I just didn’t want to risk it. I’m glad I went ahead with it though because it was a great experience.

What did you get to see of Australia?
I managed to visit every capital city and see all the big highlights. Uluru and The Kimberley were probably the best parts for me. Darwin was my favourite city – so much fun and a very chilled out environment, a long way from the manic fuss of London. Ergh.

What’s best about fruit-picking?
This sounds so disgustingly clichéd but you really do find yourself when you are alone, in a remote location, doing a mindless task. I’d spent a lot of my adult life going at the speed of a bull at a gate and I’d never really stopped. While the work was pretty taxing physically it gave me a lot of time to think about what I really want in life and where I’m headed. Are you throwing up yet?

And worst?
With strawberry-picking? The back aches. At the beginning I thought I would end up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame but I soon learned how to reduce the pain.

Is it worth it?
Obviously I got a lot out of it and before I got there I was prepared for whatever they were going to throw at me. A lot of people I know were dreading it before they left and ended up not getting much more from it than a visa extension, which is why a lot of people do it I suppose.

What do you do when you’re off duty?
I was pretty close to a lot of wineries so I checked a lot of those out and Adelaide wasn’t that far away either so I’d day trip there. There was plenty of different places to occupy my time.

Any tips?
If you can, take a car with you. The amount of freedom it gives you is invaluable. There’s nothing worse than being literally stuck in the middle of nowhere. It makes the time drag a lot longer.