Australian government reminds backpackers that bushfires are no excuse for avoiding farm work

A British lass driving at 140 km/h to escape a catastrophic bushfire on the outskirts of Sydney better not be trying to get out of her farm work, the Australian government has confirmed.

Ky-Lee, a 22-year-old from Barking, is on a working holiday in Australia. She’s currently living on a farm a few hours from Sydney to complete her three months of rural work and get her visa extension. Or at least she was until this morning, when the whole property was engulfed by one of the country’s worst-ever bushfires. Which are happening like a month before summer has even begun, by the way.

Now, Ky-Lee is frantically driving east to avoid being caught up in Mother Nature’s all-consuming fury. But despite the stress of fleeing for her life, the thought of not being able to complete her farm work in time is somehow more daunting.

“I’ll admit it’s not ideal to be a few hundred metres away from dying a horrible death,” Ky-Lee told The Tragic Traveller via satellite phone. “But at least I know that once the smoke clears up, I’ll see the sun again this year.”

My poor folks back home are living under perma-cloud until May next year. That’s much worse.

“I’ve done 80 of my 88 days of farm work and I only have two weeks left before my visa expires. During that time I’ve been overworked, underpaid, starved, sexually harassed, and bitten by more bugs than I can name. If the Australian government sends me back home after all that because of a bushfire it helped cause, I will literally have a breakdown.”

Shortly before publication time, Ky-Lee checked in to let The Tragic Traveller know that she’d arrived safely in Sydney. Now feeling the symptoms of shock after having survived a fair-dinkum Australian bushfire, she decided to go to a police station to report just how bad the situation on her farm was and see if they could help her arrange emergency accommodation for the evening.

The cops were quick to inform her that she’d picked up three speeding fines on her mad drive to escape the fires. They also reminded her that she needs to return to the smouldering wreckage of the farm by tomorrow morning at the latest if she wants to complete her 88 days of rural work.

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