Note to reader: this post used to be called “Any goanna can do that” after a phrase my friend told me he and another mate had invented to describe something anyone can do. I’ve since changed the name, but still really like the educational introduction to the post, so I’ve left it here for posterity:
Goanna: the name given to any of the various Australian monitor lizards of the genus Varanus, as well as to certain species from Southeast Asia. There are around twenty species of goanna, fifteen of which are endemic to Australia. They are a varied group of carnivorous reptiles that range greatly in size and fill several ecological niches.
I am nothing if not entertaining and informative.
Now, back in the early life of my blog, when I was young, carefree and brimming with optimism, I fully intended to churn out regular posts. A month later, however, sitting in the truck on my third back-to-back tour with only one blog post under my belt, I realise that I might have been a tad over-ambitious.
There are very few jobs in this world where I would consider working thirty-four days straight but this is certainly one of them. I’ve seen some absolutely incredible sights and been blessed with three groups of wonderful passengers. It’s a bit of a trial by fire at times (sometimes literally, but now at least I can add cooking dinner on a campfire without poisoning anyone or burning down the Kimberley to my CV).
You might wonder how I could possibly enjoy a job where at one point I simultaneously had a bruise on my right elbow after an altercation with the truck door’s hydraulic arm, scrapes on my legs from swimming down Manning River, a pretty stunning bruise over my right knee where a table decided to fall on me, mozzies bites dotting my legs like Dalmatian spots, a plaster on my middle finger where the fridge lid shaved off a good chunk of skin, a plaster/bandage concoction on my right hand after clambering up a metal ladder sitting in the midday sun (I didn’t do that twice), bruising on my arse after I fluffed a 13m cliff jump, and a spine irrevocably mutilated by the wonder that is the Spring Creek Track (heavy use of sarcasm)… But I do.
Call me a glutton for punishment (or clumsy. Either/or would do), but it’s a pretty incredible job and it certainly has its perks, including but notwithstanding the aforementioned swim down Manning River and Lake Argyle cliff jump, and a helicopter ride over Purnululu National Park. I know, I can’t believe it either.
And through my infinite wisdom (and many mistakes) I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks. I don’t know how many potential hosties will actually end up reading this, but I enjoyed putting the list together anyway.
For anyone interested in what I do or how I do it, this is my rudimentary attempt at ‘Hosting 101’:
- Keep the guide happy (they can drive the truck. Odd’s are, you can’t, and you need a way to get home).
- In all seriousness though, you’ll be travelling, eating, living, working together for days at a time. If you don’t get on, not only will you be miserable, but the guests will notice pretty quick and feed off that energy too.
- You are the buffer between the guests and the guide (aka, sometimes you’re gonna have to take some heat).
- It’s generally worth remembering that both of you can’t always be in a good mood.
- You might have the odd domestic, such as about how much water to put in the rice, but you’ll both be stronger for it afterwards (NB. I was right).
- It will help both of you to have a good moan once in a while about your passengers. They’re like your kids; you can love them and be briefly annoyed with them all at the same time.
- You’ll find very interesting ways to entertain yourself.
- For example, counting roadkill wallabies to pass the time (18 so far) or seeing how many songs from the Wicked soundtrack you can recite in your head from memory (pretty much the whole thing and I am unashamed to admit that).
- There’s a knack to everything.
- Whether that’s working out that you need to use your knee to unfold a table, or knowing which door needs a good kick to get it closed, or how best to hang your washing line in the truck.
- Finding these knacks will make your life ten times easier. And make you look far more capable than you probably are.
- You will need to find spare moments to have time to yourself (because entertaining, feeding, helping, and socialising with fifteen other people is, surprisingly, pretty exhausting)
- For me, this is a pretty important one. To the extent that I have hidden in the dark in the back of the truck after dinner just for five minutes to recharge.
- And that’s fine. It saves someone else finding you about a week later in a dark corner, rocking back and forth muttering to yourself about dinner times, charging facilities and where the cups are.
- Patience is a virtue. Simple as that.
- Delegating is a fine art.
- The key is to make people think they want to do what you tell them.
- Lots (and I mean LOTS) of people will assume you’re not strong enough to do things. Oftentimes you can prove them wrong.
- Make friends with the staff (especially when they have access to free scones – shout out to Ellenbrae!)
- And really, there’s nothing better than feeling like you’re a part of the Kimberley community, and you’ll have friends all over the place by the end of the season.
- Really get to know the people on your tour.
- They often have some pretty amazing stories up their sleeves and (for the most part) they’re lovely.
- You’ll have to make peace with the fact that capsicum, zucchini, thongs, eggplant etc. will become a part of your vocabulary just so that passengers know what you’re on about.
- You know you’re right but it’s hard to convince all of Australia that that’s the case.
- Nothing goes to plan in the Kimberley.
- Faulty generators, broken arms, burst tyres, leaking fuel tanks, Mother Nature (impeccable timing with the rain by the way…) – I could go on. I’d say be prepared, but that’s pretty much impossible unless you also happen to be an oracle.
- Just learn to go with the flow and be ready to improvise.
You’ll get into a rhythm quick enough and have a system for everything. Your passengers are almost always willing to muck in and very quickly you’ll be able to navigate the back of the truck with your eyes closed. It’s an intense job and it can be pretty exhausting, but it’s well worth it.