So now I've been in Katanning for a few weeks and have some observations to share, I think I have the measure of the place. I got the coach down, a 5 hour trip although only 3 hours by car, all the while seemingly getting further and further from civilization. The town is relatively small, about 4000 people, 3 hours from Perth, 2 hours from Albany down on the coast, and is pretty dusty and hot. I arrived in the middle of a crazy heatwave, was like 39 degrees which is unusual and made it hard work for the first few days! Luckily now it's cooled down to a much more manageable 26-32 degrees or so.
Anyway I got picked up from the bus stop by Liz, my manager at the Federal hotel and bar. Now calling the Feddy a hotel is a bit of an exaggeration, it has a lot of rooms but they are shared bathrooms on each floor and it is probably about a 1 star, but then you'd not expect much more in a little town like this, it's not really touristy and definitely nowhere a backpacker would stop off on their travels. I was a little concerned when we walked through the door, it all looked a little rough around the edges and the clientele were a bit scary looking, but I got up to my room and unpacked and calmed down a little. I LOVE having my own little room again, with a tv and a wardrobe and just my own space to relax. There is one other backpacker here, a girl called Jo from Sussex who is really friendly and has been here 2 weeks longer than me.
Anyway my first shift was on a Tuesday and boy did my brain hurt afterwards! For a start the Aussies have 4, yes 4, different glass sizes for beer. Honestly, who needs that many! If you're interested they are a 'glass'(200ml), a 'middy' (or handle, half pint), 'schooner' (425ml I think) and a pint. Almost everyone drinks half pints, it's very rare that I serve a pint or a spirit. They also sell cans and 'stubbies' (bottles) which causes much hilarity when I say it in a Yorkshire accent. I'm really having to concentrate on my accent otherwise people can't understand me, and I really struggle sometimes to understand what people are asking for - honestly I sometimes wonder if they are speaking English at all. Australia also has really strict drinking laws which are followed a lot more closely than any we have at home. It is illegal to serve someone who seems drunk - seemingly making it pretty difficult to get drunk at all unless you're at home - and if you cut someone off (as I had to do the other day) they have to leave the premises immediately. Apart from that the work is pretty easy, except it makes my feet ache something rotten, I'm evidently not made for standing around all day.
What else is there to say about Katanning? It has a library which I found out to my delight on my second day here so I immediately signed up and got out a book I've wanted to read since it came out in November, hooray! There is a supermarket just down the road and a leisure centre a ten minute walk away, I managed to get to a body attack class after my shift the other day, making me extremely happy, tired and achey. Internet leaves a lot to be desired, makes Stanners look like the most modern place on earth, so I've had to buy a mobile broadband stick for my laptop, but it has made me feel a lot less isolated and a lot happier. I am most definitely a child of technology!
Lastly, the folk of Katanning. Well, where do I start. My coworkers are nice, Jaala is a local girl, Margaret is originally from NZ but has lived in Katanning for a few years, and Jo is a backpacker like me. The customers on the other hand…well put it this way, Katanning is a massively rural town with a brand new mine nearby. Thus it is mainly men in the bar, probably from the ages of 30-60, with the odd wife along for the ride, who are either farmers, shearers or miners. I think the average number of teeth is maybe 10, and mullets are still in fashion out here, as are vests, shorts and workboots. Appearances aside they are friendly for the most part, although there are a couple who are REALLY arsey if you don't serve them immediately as they walk through the door, there is no such thing as patience it would appear. I've been out for tea a couple of times to Trish's house, a lovely local woman who cooks me tea and rents out films for us to watch. I've even managed to steal a yummy pasta recipe from her! Another thing I forgot to mention is that there is a bookies in the bar…a very odd prospect for me to understand, drinking and gambling in one place?? For a place with such strict drinking laws it seems somewhat of a paradox. The air is literally blue with swearing, I have never been somewhere where every other word is a swear word and I find it a bit daunting, evidently I am a sensitive soul.
Apart from work, the gym and watching films there isn't much else to do around here, so on my days off I've started borrowing Jo's car so I can see some of the South Coast before I go back up to Perth, Albany and Denmark are my first couple of stops so I'll update you on those later!