Leaving behind our luxurious Airbnb, we headed to the hostel, YHA Coffs Harbour where we were checked in by the lovely Brett. Whilst checking in, he asked us what we were doing in Coffs Harbour and when we told him we were there for the blueberry picking we were met with a sharp inhale of breath (it probably sounded more dramatic than it was) and asked "Who are you working for?" When we told him he very reassuringly said "Never heard of them - tell you what I'll just get you to pay for one of the two weeks you've booked just now in case it doesn't work out, eh?" And with that, we realised that maybe Coffs Harbour maybe wasn't going to go to plan after all.
After getting ourselves settled into our room we decided to message the member of staff at the "farm" we had been in touch with to ask a few questions. Where was the farm located? What time were we going to be collected in the morning? Was there any paperwork we were required to bring? Is it really a farm? And lo and behold, we were ghosted!
Feeling extremely frustrated, we decided to expend some energy (frustration), and headed off for a walk along the marina and onto Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve - possibly the steepest walk we have ever done (in flip flops). The reserve is known for whale watching however we didn't have any luck, although the view from the top was still pretty lovely despite the smoke from the fires.
After some time chilling out in the hostel and doing a bit of job hunting we grabbed dinner and crashed out for the night hoping that the next day might be a bit better.
Monday morning (although there was no messages inviting us to work, or, you know, asking us where we were or why we were late) and we woke up with a fresh view of things. After a breakfast at Twenty46 we decided, given we were in the area for at least the next week, we may as well see if there was any jobs going locally. Sadly our luck wasn't in, the local schools and universities have now finished for summer so, entirely understandably, summer jobs have gone to the locals. The afternoon was then spent online job searching, applying for anywhere and everywhere we could. We finally caught a break and were able to finally arrange our verbal assessment for our RSA's for the following day. Having previously thought we would need to wait until almost Christmas, this was a massive game changer for us as suddenly we could apply for jobs that involved serving alcohol which would massively increase the job pool!
Beginning to go a little square eyed (and we thought it was a childhood myth) from staring at screens all afternoon we headed to Marias for dinner. Their early evening menu was just as cheap as us buying dinner from the supermarket and hey, it stopped us having to cook in the hostels kitchen! After dinner we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset walk along the beach.
The next day we spent the majority of the morning practicing for our verbal RSA assessment. The markers were going to phone us and role play being an angry/drunk/aggressive/sad customer and we had to deal with them appropriately. Thankfully pharmacy has given us plenty experience with angry and aggressive customers so we passed with no issues! Phew! The rest of the day was spent, you guessed it, looking online for more jobs. Our evening then panned out much the same as the previous night, dinner followed by a walk, this time around Park Beach Reserve.
The following morning we woke to find that the hostel was having their wifi updated, so we made the decision to book into a co-working space, Toogetha. We spent the majority of our day there, searching for jobs. We made the decision that we weren't getting very far in Coffs Harbour so we would be better back in Sydney, just in time for the weekend to see if any bars would give us some trial shifts. So we booked an Airbnb for a week and a train back to Sydney the following day in the hope that, this time, we would be more successful.
After heading back to the hostel and confirming with reception that we would be leaving early the next morning we grabbed dinner and then headed out for a walk along the Jetty. Whilst there we got to see 4 sea turtles swimming, diving and feeding along with a dolphin playing in the bay which was a pretty incredible sight to see.
The next morning the alarm went off at 5am and we made our way to the train station in what felt like a ghost town. 9. Long. Boring. Hours. Later. And we were finally in Sydney where we hopped in a taxi to our airbnb and crashed out for the night.
Friday morning, we were raring to go and first on the agenda was collecting our copies of our CVs from Laura at IEP, with some words of encouragement - not to let one bad experience ruin our time here - and we headed off in search of a job. After a busy day, pounding the streets, with our happy smiling faces, Friday evening was spent with a quick dinner and beginning a new series on Netflix before crashing into bed! (Have we mentioned this Airbnb has the comfiest mattress we've had since we left, not quite up to the Simba standard, but an awful lot better than any others we've had!)
On Saturday we made the most of being back in the big smoke and headed to the cinema to see Last Christmas, Katy's choice (as I'm sure everyone would well imagine!) And it was definitely what we needed to get us in the Christmas spirit. We followed this with an early dinner at Darling Harbour, then enjoyed the walk back to the apartment passing all the Christmas trees that had suddenly appeared in Sydney (we even played the game of guessing if someone had used a cherry picker or gone out a window to put some up!)
Back at the apartment and in for the night, we pulled out the Monopoly board provided by the Airbnb hosts. An extremely competitive game ensued - Katy won, by a substantial amount (serves Craig right for being clever and mortgaging)! Various rounds of Connect 4 then followed - Craig won this time, by a substantial amount (Katy shouldn't have been so mean at Monopoly). We then settled down for the night with a bottle of wine and 'Christmas With the Kranks' on Netflix.
On Coffs Harbour: Although we had a negative experience, Coffs Harbour is actually a lovely little spot. It has a seaside area with beach, marina and jetty but also a bustling town centre with lots of different shops and eateries. We also got to see wildlife from the jetty which was our personal highlight.
For those wondering about our lovely ghoster, we have since discovered farmers will pay people around an extra $20 if they convince other people to come up and as this is capped (usually around $200) we arrived too late to be of any use to that. Pure speculation, maybe she was just horrible.