Region top spot for backpackers
IPSWICH has become an international destination for backpackers, with the Prince of Wales Hotel their beacon.
English tourists Celia Rampling, 22, and Jo Stiller, 23, arrived in Brisbane looking for work and put their interest up on http://www.gumtree.com.au - as did Swedish pair Elina Gladh and Sara Ekholm - both 20.
Prince of Wales Hotel publican Darren Riley answered their requests and so continued a trend of foreign backpackers making their way to his establishment.
"The first person that replied to our ad was Darren and we came down to Ipswich for an interview and moved in that day," Celia says.
"If it wasn't for the job I never would have known about Ipswich and I never would have thought to come here."
Jo, who had $7 in her bank account when she arrived in Ipswich, says it has been an opportunity to "see the real culture of Australia" rather than just the tourist areas
Celia has an amusing story about what she was expecting on arrival in Ipswich.
When the girls initially typed Prince of Wales Hotel, Ipswich into the internet, a dream destination appeared.
"It came up as this five-star luxury resort," Celia laughs.
"The bar was brand spanking new...and there was a gym and an outdoor swimming pool.
"Me and Jo got really excited because we thought if we got the job here we could use the gym every day and sunbathe outside in the swimming pool."
But when the girls arrived, the five-star resort was nowhere to be seen.
"I walked down the road a bit and thought, 'Why would they have an amazing five-star place here?' It seemed a bit odd," Celia grins.
The initial disappointment soon gave way to a deep appreciation of Ipswich people.
The patrons have embraced the girls.
Celia says Bill serenades them and "John brings in flowers."
Mark brings in chocolates while Steve has a pool that the girls swim in.
"The day shift is my favourite - with the old boys," Celia says.
"You get the regular customers in, everyone is friendly and you can have a laugh...and they have all got interesting stories to tell. The locals we've met here have told us other places to visit that we wouldn't have known about."
The girls had been looking for jobs on the Gold Coast, but nowhere was hiring and they were running out of cash. But working and living at the pub has enabled them to save for the next stage of their journey.
Darren says the girls have "put Ipswich on the international tourism map" and proved a drawcard for his hotel.
"These girls have come from different countries and travelled around Australia and they have something different to talk about to what the customers are used to," he says.
"They have got a bit of spark and spirit and they have all got good personalities... and that comes through in their conversation.
"A lot of backpackers say that in their travels all they meet is German backpackers because they stay in hostels. Here they get to meet other Aussies. They are attractive young ladies. Who wouldn't want to talk to them?
"Because they are here on holidays they have a good attitude. They are here for a good time, not a long time. They tend to stay for about a month and move on.
"That can be good because some of our customers tell the same old stories and it gives them a different audience to tell them to. I've been doing this for five months and we've had girls from the US, Canada, England, Sweden and Italy."
The Swedes wanted to escape the winter back home. They have worked in regional areas like Muswellbrook, but admit bar work was an adventure of its own.
"We worked at a horse stud but the new thing for us was to work in a pub," Sara says.
"The good thing is that the regular customers have been so nice and they have had patience with us."