Please leave your backpacks at the front door, that’s a sign at the entrance to the only supermarket in town. The backpackers have arrived to pick the apples.
Not the normal sign you would expect to see. Backpackers please leave your backpacks at the front door. We reserve the right to search customers bags, that’s the language of the city supermarkets. Donnybrook has many town icons bearing the apple. The Apple Fun Park , the largest free-entry playground in Australia, opened in Easter 2008 in time for the Donnybrook Apple Festival. The Donnybrook Apple Festival is held annually during Easter. The citizens of Donnybrook gather at Egan Park to celebrate the apple. The festival includes agricultural displays, sideshow alley, the crowning of the Apple Queen and a parade. During the street parade the Catholic Church of Donnybrook blesses the holy apple, assuring a good harvest in the year to come.
I have moved to the city now, I have been here a couple of weeks. Shopping at the local supermarket prompted me to think of the backpackers in Donnybrook. How many backpackers hostels there were in a small town, five that I can remember. Also how much these young people’s spending, helped swell the local businesses bank accounts. I never thought of it at the time but I hiked every morning with my small backpack, starting off in the forest and often ending up going to the local supermarket. The sign on the front door didn’t apply to me, it never even crossed my mind that it did. I wasn’t young of course, desperate to steal food!
The majority of backpackers spend most of their time interacting with other backpackers, and any interactions with locals are seen as “secondary importance.” That’s a criticism often voiced, but most of these backpackers come from Asia with poor English language skills. Living in dormitory style blocks isolated from the locals, of course they will interact with each other more. I know they were often confused with this strange country town ritual of leaving backpacks outside on the pavement. They can’t go into the supermarket without someone looking after their backpack, because someone might steal it.
An extensive inquiry by the employment regulator found widespread exploitation of backpackers working in regional areas. The two year investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, surveyed more than 4000 foreigners with 417 visas working in regional areas, has revealed alarming results, particularly for the agriculture industry, which rely on the backpacker workforce to fill critical labor shortages. The word “backpacker” has come to symbolize an itinerant person, who alternates between working and wandering. Also, anyone who doesn’t settle in one place for any length of time and is usually foreign. There taking our jobs is another backpacker criticism. Maybe these are jobs, we no longer want to do.
No luck, Australia: Irish backpackers heading elsewhere. The number of Irish backpackers in Australia has dropped by more than half in three years. Startling tourism operators and farmers who rely on working holidaymakers in busy periods. Danny Keenan and Jonny Jamieson are in no rush to return to Ireland. But while cooking up lunch in a St Kilda hostel, the two friends have found themselves among a dwindling number of Irish backpackers who were willing to make the long trip to Australia
“When I was a teen, every second week there was an Australia-leaving party. It has slowed down now you get maybe one every two months.” Danny Keenan said, many of his friends back home are now considering other options, such as a working holiday in Canada, with its proximity to the US, a shorter flight from Ireland and football-friendly time zone. This is part of a story in the Sydney morning herald January 2016.
I have worked in the construction industry with a number of “Irish backpackers” they never seem to have a backpack though. Their here for a perceived better life, with more opportunity, many of them settle here. I’m a hiker and I carry a backpack. I don’t do any of the perceived things that would define me as a “backpacker”. When I set off on the track with the intention to hike to a certain place with my backpack, the only label attached is Gregory Baltoro. Its packed carefully with everything well researched for weight and functionality. I live in a house surrounded with furniture and commitments, to me my “backpack” represents a different life that’s there when I want it. I only have to commit to staying fit and healthy.