Charity, Electricity and Oil Paintings

The plan was to leave Mexico, get to Oz, earn some money and then sack it to the Grampians. I had managed to secure a ‘job’ selling oil paintings door to door so felt in a most fortunate position arriving in the country.

Vikki on the Invisible Fist © Oli Grounsell

Vikki on the Invisible Fist © Oli Grounsell

Arriving at the ‘accommodation’ which came with the ‘ job’ I wouldn’t have been too impressed if I had turned up here for an after party, so wasn’t exactly excited about the prospect of living in a smack den. I spent a night on a stack of mattresses (which would have been lovely if I’d have been in an opium induced daze) and soon ran into bossman who asked me how long I would be staying. He wanted commitment from me like he had from his merry band of travelling German kids he was exploiting.  I explained myself and he seemed bemused that the setup he was offering didn’t excite me. I left immediately.

Next up was fundraising. A classic job. Surely anyone can stand around in the street asking people for donations. How wrong I was. After four days of work I was fired as I had got only 1 person (who approached me) to sign up. I was told I needed to put more passion into my speel and be more extroverted, and that I should talk about water with the same passion I spoke about climbing. I thought to myself, you haven’t seen me talk about climbing…

Apparently this was also a great place to talk to girls. The possibilities really were endless.

The next job which I presumed anyone could do was door to door electricity sales. Again I got one sale (I think more through sympathy than my hard sale tactics), but I am pretty sure I put it through the system wrong so it probably bounced. It was awful, wandering around in the baking sun, trying to get rich people to save a few pennies. On top of this on a trial day I got to witness the ‘team leader’ come close to abusing several potential clients who resisted his most tempting offers. A great example of how a lack of a conscience can make you money.

Next up was delivering fliers for a trusty trady. I did 3 days of this, walked about 20km a day and then got suspicious of Mr Reynolds Renovations. Sure enough my suspicions were confirmed and he vanished into thin air, without a paycheck in site. Apparently he had gone on holiday to Mexico, for a week. If you have 5 minutes please spam his website:

Last but not least I was offered a job on a food truck, which specialised in donuts and coffee. Of all the jobs I didn’t do this was the best as I got a free lunch and some donuts. Again I was also told I needed to me more extrovert to attract customers over to the truck, and that I should do spontaneous things like dance to David Guetta whilst serving a coffee. I pondered with the idea of playing some Bodzin and whipping out the Ian Curtis.

Finally and appreciatively, Reuben took pity on me and gave me some work at the local wall, Northside. With this I have been able to go climbing again, and the Grampians have completely lived up to their reputation, which given my very high expectations is impressive. I think that Taipan is up there with the most amazing 150 metres of cliff I have climbed on. There are lots of  big lines, something which sport crags often lack and the sandstone is bullet hard. The climbing is varied and all the routes have something about them, their not just clip ups; run outs, knacky moves, bits of kit. Aside from the mighty Taipan, Muline and Eureka Wall also offer some excellent climbing, and I am yet to check out the bouldering.

Resting on Snakes on a Train © Gavin Bonello

Resting on Snakes on a Train © Gavin Bonello

One of the main reasons I came to Australia was to climb on perfect crimps, whilst being very run out on Groove Train. I might have booked flights elsewhere if someone had told me to access such delights I would have to dyno between slopers. The 7c+ start to Groove Train is more than a little tricky, and basically I was too short to be able to do one of the moves; a big span to a sloper with no intermediates on offer.

Fortunately, for those smaller in stature there is an alternative; Snakes on a Train (8b+). The starting pitch is much more friendly, and you still get to do the cool run out shit up high. Being a fan of crimping on gentle overhangs I really couldn’t recommend this headwall enough, it is just immaculate. As the pump catches up with you its a battle to keep your your hips tucked in as you build your feet and snatch between crimps. I took quite a few big falls, including an obligatory one from the last hard move which when not pumped is a nice little flick to a jug full of friction.

Redpoint crux on Snakes on a Train (32), Taipan, Australia © Gavin Bonello

Redpoint crux on Snakes on a Train (32), Taipan, Australia © Gavin Bonello

Michael Tanner on Eye of the Tiger, Muline, Grampians © Oli Grounsell

Michael Tanner on Eye of the Tiger, Muline, Grampians © Oli Grounsell

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