Aussie urban sophisticate meets noxious Kiwi pest

Caption: And I thought we had gorse bad in Tasmania. Nuke the site from orbit.

Way back when I was a bright-eyed high-schooler dreaming of a career in science, I did a work-experience jaunt at a CSIRO research farm just outside Melbourne. On the advice of my careers teacher, I showed up in my smartest threads, shoes freshly shined. Waiting outside the office was another work experience candidate, a proper farm boy. Kitted out in gumboots, old jeans and footy jumper, he looked me up and down, shook his head and chuckled softly.

In hindsight, I can?t say I blame him.

I can also sympathise with the following tale of woe from a naive young Aussie gap-year traveller. Quote:

When I was an Australian university student travelling and working around New Zealand, I landed a job with a forestry organisation. I was young and naive, and work was plentiful. I paid scant attention to the role description.

Reporting to the depot in Nelson, on the north of the South Island, I should have suspected the day ahead might confront a soft city boy with a challenge wholly unconnected to study in English, history and philosophy. End of quote.

Planting trees: how hard can it be?

Now older and marginally wiser, I?ve seen many people rock up to jobs like vineyards, expecting a casual stroll among the vines. The aching backs and cramped hands are a tough lesson. Quote:

The first of four unconsidered clues was the transport. The rusted, battered, mud-spattered four-wheel-drive looked like the victim of an Indy race pile-up. The second was the appearance of my colleagues. Clad head to foot in mountain gear (checked woollen hunting shirts, canvas twill trousers and calf-high boots), they made Deliverance look like a fashion parade. One fellow smote me a rib-rattling clap on the back.

The third, as our ascent slowed to a first-gear groan, was the angle of the landscape. To label it steep would be like calling Einstein average. The fourth, on reaching our destination, was my tool of trade. A jovial Goliath thrust a wicked, long-handled blade into my delicate hands. Its origins were, if not biblical, at least medieval. But for my tattered Levi?s, army disposal shirt and Dunlop Volleys, I might have passed as a Swiss halberdier. End of quote.

Gorse is a noxious weed in much of Tasmania. Along with blackberry and possums, it?s what us rural folk call a ?bastard?. Quote:

My task, I was cheerfully informed, was to release seedlings from the reach of gorse, a botanical evil. Gorse is thornier than a porcupine and grows faster than hothouse bamboo. Turn your back on it and it will strangle you in a full nelson quicker than a WWE wrestler.

I was willing, but I faced an impediment. My weapon demanded two hands to take an effective swing at the menacing weed. I had only one. The other was engaged in a white-knuckled clutch for life to the side of the mountain. If the gorse didn?t get me, gravity would. I lasted a day. I never went back to claim the pitiful wage I?d scarcely earned and was too ashamed to collect. End of quote.

That first day is usually where the wheat gets separated from the chaff. I?ve seen blokes on their first shift in a car factory just take off their gloves, mid-shift, and walk out the plant door. On the other hand, I?ve seen people get covered in mud and cow poo, and kicked by stroppy heifers, and cheerfully come back for more.

Anyone can be a lightweight on their first day at a tough job. The true test is if you hack it and come back the next day.

It gets easier, and it?s well worth it.