So Mildura…. The online reviews were mixed, the stories from other backpackers were mixed all well- some said plenty of work available, and a good place to go, others said hell on earth- stay away. Considering my one night in Redcliffs Oasis Hostel caused me to book a HOTEL room for the first time in Australia I would have to agree with the latter.
On the train I met 2 backpackers from Taiwan who were on their way to the Mildura Oasis. Since I wasn’t having any luck finding a hostel with availability I decided to go with them when they got picked up at the station
. The confusion started the minute we tried to phone the hostel to pick us up. Apparently there are two Oasis hostels owned by the same people, but none of us knew that. I was on the phone to one, making sure they had room for me, and Lin and Nick were on the phone with the other asking for a ride. Someone named Vicki (a Man, which added to the confusion) was supposed to be picking us up, and with all of us on our phones trying to figure things out, some random guy walks up to us and in a thick Aussie accent and low voice attempts to ask us which hostel we are going to. I could hardly hear him, and my Taiwanese friends, English being their second language, had not a clue what he was saying. Plus his appearance and manner had me thinking “who the hell are you?” He eventually was able to inform us he owned a hostel and I guess he pops up at the train arrivals to lurk for victims… I mean look for people to stay at his establishment…. We are all still on the phones trying to coordinate a ride, when our new friend, Larry has decided that he will be driving us to our hostel. Now, having travelled this long, I feel like I have become a good judge of character. I have been able to read people, and if I am being offered a ride, or help, I have been able to discern if I am in a safe situation or not. I did not want to get in the car with this guy, but he had already called Vicki, who was going to pick us up and told him he would be doing it. We all looked at each other, and none of us wanted to. This guy was creepy. He’s getting agitated now because we aren’t “cooperating” (more on that later) and I’ve sort of become the “leader” of the group cause I’m the only one who can understand him. I say to my friends “well there’s 4 of us together, so we’ll be safe” and we load up his filthy van. And he starts driving… then he starts bullying me. Yes, that’s right, I am being bullied by a 40 year old
. He asked me what I did back home, and he’s not making friendly conversation, he’s being a complete dick about it. “are you a teacher or something?” he says.. I replied with actually I’m a gymnastics coach. ”Huh, I knew it.. A teacher… ugh..” He then tells me I’ll need a coach for myself out here, and I ignore him. I've learned to pick my battles and driving out into the middle of nowhere with this creep is not the time or the place. We finally arrive and when we get out, he says it again.. This slime ball is picking a fight with me!!! He made several more cruel comments and said it was because I didn’t “cooperate” with him when he was trying to “do us a favour” by driving us…. Welcome to Mildura, enjoy your stay. These will forever be my first impressions of the town, thanks to our “chauffeur”
When that nightmare ended a new one began. The hostel was horrible, filthy, dried vomit in the washrooms, and out in the middle of nowhere in Redcliffs when we all thought we would be in downtown Mildura. A lot of talk about how there as room for me and my French friends joining us at the other Oasis in town and I would be moved. That never happened. Communication breakdowns between hostel management and workers or outright lies, I’m not sure. All I know is that the situation had us all feeling like S%$t!!! Lin and I left the next day, Nick, Marie and Alex left 3 days after that, only one of the 6 of us stayed
. By some miracle they gave me my money back minus the first night (they don’t usually do that, although they should) and I didn’t know where I was going to go, I only knew I needed to leave. It wasn’t really even a conscious decision, I just knew this wasn’t my place. No problem. I came in not knowing where I would stay, I can leave not knowing where I will stay. We all took the bus into Mildura together and I found a cheap hotel and a ticket to Barossa Valley (Adelaide SA area). I immediately began to enjoy myself again. Mildura itself is fairly nice. A cute downtown area and great riverfront on the Murray. We avoided the 35 degree heat by spending the afternoon in the pub, and met up with more friends from Mooloolaba who also had made it down to Mildura. My night in the hotel was pure luxury with my own bed, tv and a clean bathroom! The next morning I hopped on the Greyhound and travelled 5 hours towards my back up plan, the Barossa Valley in south Australia.
Now having said all of that (and thank you if you are still reading) I look back on this situation and at first part of me thought “well that’s what you get for not planning it out better”, then I realise I don’t need that negativity and I can look at it in another way. Yes it was a shitty experience, but look what I did with it. I overcame it, I rose above it and I left for somewhere that was better for me. And the best part is, it means more travel!! More exploring in places I have never been before!
I hesitate to write this entry, only because you’re all going to be thinking that this trip is full of misadventures and bad luck. And for a little while I felt like that that too. But I must write about my adventures whether they be positive or negative, and since I promptly removed myself from the situation, I feel perfectly fine.