The Wild West
The unbent highway flanked by boulder sized termite mounds dissolves into the distant horizon.
A white Toyota Hiace roars into view, a cloud of black smoke trailing in its wake.
The slightly sun burnt driver grips the steering wheel with white knuckles, whilst his future wife hovers above the passenger seat which is spewing black smoke from the under-seat engine. Fear in her eyes and a fire extinguisher in her hands.
“How far till the next town?!”
“200km, give or take”
“Hold it together, we can do this”
That was the reality of our adventures north along the majestic west coast of Australia. It is a picturesque place to travel, with ‘Wild West’ invoking scenery that feels almost like a movie set. All it took was a small oil leak to completely unravel that fairytale, needless to say I am better at making coffee than I am at mechanics.
Our only soundtrack in the camper was a triple disc 90’s hit compilation album with Seal, Mr Big and Vanilla Ice as highlights, it provided endless entertainment. The journey was dramatic but fun, there were so many amazing sights including the Pinnacles Desert, home to thousands of limestone pillars, the alien-like space scape they create is breathtaking.
Another astonishing sight was less planned, as we drove a long stretch of straight road there appeared to be an effervescent shimmering cloud in the distance. It mesmerised me, and my intrigue urged me to speed up towards this glittering mass. My wonder turned to horror in an instant as the sight I had assumed to be an angelic trick of the light turned out to be a swarm of locusts. As hundreds upon hundreds of them crashed against the windscreen both me and the future Mrs Hatch Coffee screamed. Another stark reminder that we were still in Australia.
Now the immediate dilemma we were facing was actually two fold. One, we were running out of money and two, we were running out of time. We initially tried to kill two birds with one stone by acquiring agricultural work along the way, this would have allowed us to extend our working holiday visas. We kept being in the wrong place at the wrong time, too early or too late in the season for the areas we were passing through. We made it as far as Broome and decided to settle there for a while, a remote town with epic beaches, the tourist season there was just beginning so it was an ideal time to find work. We quickly moved into a campsite and after a brief safety talk about the sea crocodiles we were off on the job hunt. Claire instantly secured a unique role as a camel photographer. I was also able to secure a fantastic and exciting job as a barista with Kimberly Coffee, however it was only part-time so I was forced to top up my income as a kitchen hand in the Australian version of KFC, a takeaway named Chicken Treat! I’ve avoided entering chicken restaurants since this trip.
Working for Kimberly Coffee Company gave me great insight about the multifaceted world of coffee. I learnt about the roasting processes, from green coffee all the way to the perfect espresso, this job taught me a lot. I ran their market stall outlet on busy market days, working clean and fast was essential as the stall was manic and every customer had a unique order. These days when you see me working in Hatch Coffee you will notice there is a smooth and precise order to everything I do, being able to chat to customers whilst making perfect drinks at high speed takes a lot of practice. I learnt those skills on that market stall, totally exposed in temperatures pushing 40 degrees it wasn’t an easy job but it continued to ignite my interest in coffee.
We had some great times in Broome and were able to save up enough money to fund an amazing time in South East Asia before heading back to the UK. Looking back, when I arrived in Australia I was seeking adventure, what I actually found was an interest and knowledge in coffee that has changed the course of my life. I still had a great deal more to learn before I was ready to open Hatch Coffee. Stay tuned.