Why Every Backpacker should work in the Australian Outback

Why Every Backpacker should work in the Australian Outback

As I travelled up the east coast of Australia it became clearer that one thing was lacking from my adventures so far. Actual Australians.

Don’t get me wrong, I was really enjoying meeting people from across the world. However, I’m in Australia and I kind of wanted to meet some actual Australians besides the very lovely tour guides.

I’d seen jobs advertised on several of the backpacker Facebook groups looking for backpackers to work in pubs in the Australian Outback. To me that seemed like the perfect way to grab a slice of real Aussie culture.

A little while later, which included a drama-filled road trip, I was walking into my new home for the next 2 months – The Injune Hotel.

Injune is a small town of about 400 people slap bang in the middle of the Queensland Australian outback. It’s about an 8-hour drive west from Brisbane and 100Km from its nearest neighbouring town.

Besides the pub, it has a roadhouse, café, Spa shop, a school a swimming pool and that’s about it really. All the houses are clustered around one main road and there are no traffic lights.

Injune is surrounded by cattle stations. However, the main employment (for those that do actually work) are the saw mills and the gas works (a.k.a. fracking). The pub, I would quickly learn, held a key place in the community. Much like, country towns back home, only far more isolated.

I really enjoyed my time in Injune. It was actually really hard to leave in the end, even after only a couple of months.

It helped give me a totally different view of Australia. I will definitely be dipping my toe into life in another Australian outback town soon.

Hhere are just a few of the reasons you should head to the outback too;

It’s a great place to save money

If nothing else can persuade you then do it for the money.

Most Australian outback pub jobs that I have seen advertised offer free (or super cheap) accommodation and meals plus a regular wage.

This is one way that they ensure they can staff their pub. It also means that you can save really easy. With no (or little) rent and food to worry about pretty much all you have left to spend your money on is drinking.

Even that can be difficult though. You’re either working or those locals who you have made friends with want to buy you a drink (OK so that might only be true if you’re female, but I hope not).

Either way, by the time you leave you will have so much more money for your next adventure than if you had worked in a bar in one the big cities.

The People

In general, the people of Injune were great. They were easy to chat to, and always making sure that I was OK. Plus, super patient as I figured out the whole working behind a bar thing (this was my first ever bar job).

You’ll even find yourself with a whole lot more new places to see. I lost count of the number of places I “just had to visit” that were recommended – some of which I have since gone on to visit.

There were obviously a few that were still living in the last century. Believing that they could take liberties especially when drunk, but I had been warned about that and shut it down quickly.

It wasn’t long before I knew the regulars’ orders and could even predict when some would show up.

This is a town that likes to drink. For some it’s a quick drink after work and for others it’s an all-day thing.

injune hotel bar macaw
Shawry, one of the locals, posing with the resident macaw, Sarah (no the pub is not owned by a pirate)

There was one particular day when it had rained all night and was still raining at opening up time.

I went to open the front door and sat on the bench outside was one of our regulars, D. I’m not sure how long he had been waiting there but he came in, got the fire going in one of the grates and sat there drinking pretty much all day.

The people of Injune made me feel welcome and at home almost immediately and I made some good friends.

I was invited round for dinner; a couple of different people took me out to see the surrounding sights I was even asked to go pig chasing – but that I turned down.

For those not in the know pig chasing is basically a form of hunting. They go out with dogs (and beer) and go chase down wild boar. It’s also a euphemism.

Friday night is Injune’s big night out.

The end of the working week when they all come out to play and we catered for them. From the weekly raffle where you could win anything from a free drink to a meat tray to karaoke nights and live bands Friday’s were always an interesting night.

Unfortunately, there are always those who don’t seem to know what their limits. Making your shift that little bit more difficult. However, they mostly apologised in the following days.

It’s Something Completely Different

One of the most common questions I was asked by both locals and tourists passing through was some variation of “why Injune”.

Yes, I know it’s in the middle of nowhere. I know it’s probably the last place you would expect to find a British backpacker but here I am, living the Australian outback life.

The truth, I’d tell them, was partly for the money and partly because I wanted to experience something completely different.

Injune was definitely that.

I mean where else have you been where a guy rocks up with a young horse he is training and sits out the front having a drink while the horse gets used to being around people.

Welcome to Injune.

injune hotel pub bar australian outback
View of the bar

I remember describing it like being in an Aussie Shameless (the TV programme).

You’re that far away from anything that life become this little bubble. Sure, I had access to the outside world via the TV and internet, but I might well have been on a different planet!

The nearest town to Injune, Roma, is an hour drive away. When you don’t have your own car the town becomes your world a little bit.

It’s off the beaten track

I don’t know about you, but for me there only so much of the tourist trail I can follow before the need to wander off and forge a new path overtakes me.

I guess this also partly explains how I ended up in Injune.

Despite it being “tourist season” (and by that, I mean the time of year when people pass through the town heading north to warmer climes) I only met one other backpacker besides my replacement and this guy was working on one of the cattle stations.

The chances are when you head out to work in an Australian outback town you’re going to be leaving behind the backpacker scene too.

Now you might be lucky and find yourself in a big busy pub where there is more than one backpacker employed. Even still, I’d bet that you’re unlikely to come across anyone else.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing though.

The total opposite in fact. I think it allows you to immerse yourself in a culture in ways that you just can’t in the big cities.

You may also get to see and experience that you would never have even known about if you hadn’t ventured into that particular area of the world.

This was definitely the case for me. For unbeknown to me, Injune lies on the edge of the Arcadia valley. A valley that is vast and beautiful and home to many a cattle station.

In fact, from the lookout point just outside Injune Arcadia valley looks like something straight out of a western. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that John Wayne was going to appear at any time, complete with theatrical score.

Lonesone national park australian outback
the stunning view across Arcadia Valley from the Lonesome national park lookout

I later got to drive through the valley in search of lake that had been mentioned to me by several locals. Apparently in spring it gets covered in blooming lilies and looks stunning.

I unfortunately didn’t get to see that.

In fact, I didn’t even get to see the lake.

We must have missed the turning and ended up at the other end of the valley heading for the town of Rolleston where we grabbed a quick hot beverage.

A 2-hour drive for a coffee and a hot chocolate! They were worth it though.

The plans for that day quickly changed and we headed to another natural wonder which I had never heard about before getting to Injune, Carnarvon Gorge. Created by water erosion and around 30km long this national park is one for those of you who love to hike.

There are several different trails of varying length. None of which were much use to us as we only had half a day.

Luckily there are a few shorter walks and areas to chill out in if you’re not a hiker or, like we were, are short on time.

It’s also one of the few places in Australia where you can see real, aboriginal artwork painted on the rocks. This was pretty cool to see, especially considering how old the paintings were.

I would never have even known about these places had I not come to Injune and they are experiences that make my Australian trip a little bit more unique to everyone else’s.

Sure, you can still so the must-see things but adding that little extra into your journey gives you those stories that no-one else will have.

Until Next Time

Keep Adventuring

sunset through window australian outback, Injune pin
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2 thoughts on “Why Every Backpacker should work in the Australian Outback

  1. I love this!!! I actually relate to ALL of it!! I worked in an “outback” pub in the middle of nowhere too (in fact, I just looked up Injune and you weren’t a million miles away from where I was – Cracow!). The place was crazy, full of locals and miners, I had free accommodation and drinks almost always bought for me, so I saved almost every penny I earned. And I had SO much fun. The amount of nights I was up until like 6am and then working again at 8. I was in this total bubble, and I was so sad to leave at the end. Lots of people also did pig hunting there too, which I also never joined… it honestly sounds like we had very much the same experience! And I totally agree that everyone should do it. 🙂

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